Beta is a software release phase where the software is generally feature complete, but is likely to contain lots of known or unknown bugs. For Chicken Invaders games and others released by InterAction studios, they usually happen before a normal edition gets released or when they are attempting to port to another platform for the first time.
Types of Betas
InterAction studios has so far used three different types of betas - Initial Release, Closed, and Early Access.
Initial release betas only tend to last up to a week or two before the final game is released. During the beta, an initial release version becomes available for download. On the same page where it is available, there's a section which details bugs already found and changes InterAction studios is about to do. By the time the beta is over, if you have managed to find a bug that wasn't recorded in that section, you would receive the full game for free.
So far it's been used only three times, for The Next Wave, Island Wars 2, and the Linux port of Revenge of the Yolk. It is unknown how many testers there were in those games, but we know that only 5-8 of them received the prize.
Closed betas are first announced months before the final game is released. People can then sign up a form to have a chance to apply. There are three beta teams, though Revenge of the Yolk and Loco appear to have had only one. Once the beta starts, four weeks before the game is released, the first team receives access to version 0.10. This version usually has some of the features locked. In the case of Chicken Invaders, many Weapons are locked, only Rookie is available, and cutscenes only show the text "BETA VERSION: Cutscene not available". Three weeks before the game is released, the second team joins in to test version 0.20. It usually includes some quality of life changes, making the game easier in some places, and has all weapons available. Two weeks before the game is released, the third team joins in to test version 0.30. One week before the release, all teams get access to the "final" version 0.40. It looks more like the final game, with cutscenes and all difficulties. Two days before the release, the beta ends. The testers don't receive the final game, but they do receive a discount to buy it for cheaper, and a mention in the credits (if they choose to be there). The testers who have helped the most may also receive version 0.50, which starts you with all unlockables available, so that you can test them.
The beta versions start with an access screen. You have to enter your mail address in order to proceed. You then see the evaluation screen, telling you not to share any info regarding the game. Sharing images or videos would get you kicked from the team. In-game, you're able to send a comment about the game by pressing C. Once the beta is over or if your version is outdated however, you can't get past the access even with the correct mail.
It's the most used beta type. It has been introduced with Loco, and has since been used for Revenge of the Yolk, Piggly, Ultimate Omelette, the android port of that game, and Cluck of the Dark Side. Revenge of the Yolk had 44 unanonymous testers. Based on the size of the whole team, it probably wasn't divided into beta teams like later games. Ultimate Omelette had three times as many unanonymous testers, with each team, assuming the positions were distributed evenly, having as many testers as Revenge of the Yolk's team. Cluck of the Dark Side has 175 unanonymous testers, or technically 176 unanonymous testers because there was one person who applied as two. The actual number of testers for Ultimate Omelette and Cluck of the Dark Side might be closer to 200.
Regarding Editions, they are tested only by those testers who did the most work when testing the regular version of the game. It's unknown how they proceed but it can be assumed that the testers are trying to find new glitches and suggesting other changes that could be done to things to make them look more in theme with the edition.
Early Access is a relatively new type of beta, having been introduced with Cluck of the Dark Side Christmas Edition. Updates are announced publicly and anyone can test them if they bought the game (or in case of Universe, entirely for free). The beta can be months long. You are able to give feedback ingame. Sharing videos of this type is allowed only if you explicitly say in the title of the video that it's the Early Access version.
Cluck of the Dark Side Christmas Edition and Universe used it.
Download from special page
Full game, if new bug found
Filling a form
Credits mention, price discount
Already owning the game (not in the case of Universe)
over 90 days
Full game (without the Chicken Hunting License in Universe)
Ion Blaster Gift • Neutron Gun Gift • Laser Cannon Gift • Vulcan Chaingun Gift • Lightning Fryer Gift • Plasma Rifle Gift • Utensil Poker Gift • Boron Railgun Gift • Photon Swarm Gift • Positron Stream Gift • Hypergun Gift • Riddler Gift • Corn Shotgun Gift • Atomic Powerup
Ion Blaster Gift • Neutron Gun Gift • Laser Cannon Gift • Vulcan Chaingun Gift • Lightning Fryer Gift • Plasma Rifle Gift • Utensil Poker Gift • Boron Railgun Gift • Photon Swarm Gift • Positron Stream Gift • Atomic Powerup