SWG Star Wars Galaxies Beta
The definition of a Beta or Beta Testing in its strictest form is the testing of pre-release versions of software by making it available to selected individuals. This term is derived from the early 1960's terminology for product cycle checkpoints. An item in beta is mostly working but still requires further testing. Usually most products undergo alpha-testing (in-house) and beta-testing (selected users).
The Star Wars Galaxies Beta was conducted in more or less the same fashion except it had 3 different stages of beta. They began allowing users to sign-up for the beta test on May 3, 2002. You were required to sign-up for Sony's The Station and then sign-up for the Star Wars Galaxies Fan Club. Signing-up did you not gurantee you entry into the beta test but only a chance to be picked from a long list of people who had signed-up.
Phase 1 of the Star Wars Galaxies Beta began on July 15, 2002 and consisted mostly of internal Sony Online Entertainment and LucasArts members and some of their related kin. Nothing much is known about what was tested or what happened because all beta testers are under a strick NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) during and sometimes even after a beta test.
Phase 2 began on October 31, 2002 and went on until about April 2, 2003. During this time Sony Online Entertainment accepted more and more testers into the beta test. A large quantity of people are required to test MMORPG's (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) since their main feature is literally interacting with hundred and even thousands of people online.
Phase 3 began on April 2, 2003 and from this time the number of beta testers grew from 5,000 to 50,000 people. A massive amount of testers is needed to test the games stability and connectivity at peak usage. The NDA of Star Wars Galaxies was lifted on June 20, 2003. This allowed players to speak freely about the beta and post articles, screenshots and information about the game's beta wherever they wanted.
Retail of the game started on June 26, 2003 which was the official launch date of the game. Beta ended and people had to start playing to be able to pay. There were a few hiccups during the launch with an unexpected number of players trying to play, but issues were quickly resolved.