Why Is 7 Days To Die Still In Alpha?



Hey guys! 7 Days to Die is a unique zombie survival FPS with an equally unique development history. This game was released 8 long years ago as an alpha title for people who preordered the game via its Kickstarter campaign, or by buying it via Paypal. And while the developers The Fun Pimps have continued adding new content regularly since then, the game still remains in alpha as of 2021 with no beta in sight. The game will be entering alpha 20 later this year.


So what’s the story on 7 Days to Die? And why is it still in alpha? Let’s take a look.


When Did 7 Days To Die Come Out?


7 Days to Die’s story starts all the way back to May of 2013 when it was announced with a now-removed trailer. The Fun Pimps advertised the game’s unique features, such as sandbox, RPG, and tower defense mechanics set against a survival horror backdrop. This trailer was released alongside a Kickstarter campaign which found success, raising over $500,000 with a $200,000 goal. 


Kickstarter backers were the first to gain access to the game’s Alpha 1 build in August of the same year. The game was also on Steam’s now-defunct Greenlight program before ultimately releasing on Steam in early access on December 13th, 2013. By the time it was released on Steam, it had reached the version Alpha 5. 


Since then, the game remains in early access, and is still in alpha, with the current build being Alpha 19. But why has it gone so long without entering beta? And just what are alpha and beta builds, anyways?


How Long Has 7 Days To Die Been In Alpha?


According to the 7 Days to Die Wiki, the very first alpha version of the game was released on August 16th, 2013. That means that the game has been in alpha for almost exactly 8 years, and will complete 8 years in early access come this December. But just what does it mean for a game to be “in alpha” or “in beta”?


The terms alpha and beta are derived from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, and are used to describe the stages of development of most software. Rather than just referring to a game being unfinished, these two terms have specific terms. The alpha phase of development focuses on adding features to the software, and generally ends when all features are “locked in.” 


Meanwhile, a beta version is the version released after the features are finished (or mostly finished), but not fully tested. The beta version’s focus is ironing out bugs and other issues so that the software in question works perfectly (or as close to perfect as you can get).


So, simply put, the reason 7 Days to Die is still in alpha is because they’re still adding features. Now, 8 years is an extremely long development cycle, especially to go 8 years without leaving alpha. However, it’s not completely unprecedented: Dwarf Fortress, the incredibly in-depth ASCII tile-based civilization simulator from Bay12Games, released its first alpha version way back in 2006, and remains in alpha to this day. 


Still, it leaves you wondering: will 7 Days to Die ever enter Beta? Or see a full release? 

Will 7 Days To Die Ever Go Beta?


The Fun Pimps have been tight-lipped about a release date for the beta or full release. However, they’ve been consistently developing the game and adding features since the 2013 release, and the game is currently in version Alpha 19, with a version Alpha 20 upcoming, and an Alpha 21 planned as well. 


In fact, in a recent tweet on the official 7 Days to Die Twitter, they revealed they’ll be having a dev stream on September 8th to show off version Alpha 20 and all its new features. With a little luck, this means that Alpha 20 will release soon, and work will begin on version Alpha 21. 


With every new version, the game gets closer and closer to entering its beta version, which will hopefully be much shorter than the alpha version. The devs have maintained a rhythm of roughly a new version every year, so we may see Alpha 21 and news of a beta sometime next year. 


For now, though, all we can do is speculate. Thankfully, despite being in alpha, 7 Days to Die remains a popular game on Steam, with 10s of thousands of concurrent players on average. So even without a beta, the game is still plenty of fun to play.


7 Days to Die, Over 8 Years to Develop


7 Days to Die has seen a very long development cycle and is one of the longest-running early access games on Steam, beaten out only by fellow zombie survival title Project Zomboid which was released about a month earlier. But this hasn’t stopped the devs, who continue to update and polish the game regularly. While we hope the game sees a full release sooner rather than later, the good news is that in its current state, 7 Days to Die is fully playable and a great time. 

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