PlayStation 3-exclusive shooter Dust 514 will remain in closed beta for the rest of the year, developer CCP Games has told Eurogamer.
Early invites to try the EVE Online spin-off were sent out this summer - but a full launch (or even a move to open beta) won't happen until 2013.
"Things are going well," CCP Games exec David Reid said. "We'll be in closed beta through the end of 2012, but it won't take much longer. With a bet this big you want to get things right."
Eurogamer's Dust 514 preview, written in August, found the game "unsteady" with "a lot of work" still needing to be done.
Reid said these criticisms merely showed the game was still in a "real beta" phase.
"You should expect to see some rough edges, some things not working so well," he said. "Other recent console betas have tended to be working launch demos. We're doing something unprecedented here, and we want to get everything right before we join those two worlds."
One of the biggest criticisms was how impenetrable the game was for new players, with some of its systems still baffling even after a whole weekend's playtest. Addressing this issue was "exactly the focus we have right now," Reid explained. One example was the number of video tutorials added to help guide players through the opening sections.
"The big challenge is the first ten minutes," Reid continued. The gameplay must to be familiar to people who play shooters, but engaging enough that players can glimpse the "complexities" of what lies underneath.
"It's a chance to initiate these people into our universe. It's about people joining in these crazy stories they hear about in the EVE universe without learning how to play EVE."
"We want to make it as accessible as Call of Duty and Battlefield. It's about getting people interested, then getting them down that rabbit hole into the EVE universe. Pretty soon they'll be at [annual convention] Fanfest getting a tattoo."
Dust 514 is designed to appeal to first-person shooter fans, Reid added, especially those who have become tired of established annual franchises. The game's free-to-play business model may make it an attractive game to try, but Reid admits most players will never pay for in-game items.
"We expect the vast majority of our players not to spend a penny. But those people who pay nothing are still making the game better. Every one is another node, another player for others to interact with."
Aesthetic items and the ability to "side-grade" characters will be available to purchase. But there will be no pay-to-win option, Reid insisted. "The best shooter who spends nothing should be able to beat the worst shooter who pays the most."
Reid's message is that Dust 514 is an attractive and different offering in the shooter genre. But the question of whether it's something people will try, play and actually stick with will now not be answered until next year.
"We know we have a product we can sell to that audience that's ready for something new," Reid concluded. "If you've been playing first-person shooters for years, why wouldn't you want to play a game where the outcomes of your battles actually matter?"