Thursday, September 6, 2007

Abstaining from Beta Testing

Originally Posted by Hal:
I can't imagine anyone who would not want to participate in beta. Most of us are starved for a Star Trek online game.
Well, now you know one person. :) And I have what I feel are three good reasons for not signing up.

First of all, while I'm looking forward to Star Trek Online as much as anyone, participating in beta testing isn't about pure entertainment -- it's about testing what the developers need tested. Someone who just shows up to get a jump on gameplay is not someone who needs to be a beta tester.

Following that belief, I'd only sign up to be a beta tester if I thought I had enough free time to consistently dedicate to testing to do a good job of it. As I don't think I have enough such free time, I don't think it would be right for me to try to get into the beta.

My second reason is that participation in beta testing nearly always requires signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). I have no problem with NDAs in general -- for other people. For myself, I don't want to have my ability to talk about a particular game constricted because I agreed to be a beta tester.

Not having facts to talk about is better by far than having facts and not being able to talk about them!

Finally, this is just a personal viewpoint, not a criticism of anyone else, but I don't want to have my independence compromised by being associated in any official way with a game over which I had no design control. Choosing not to be a beta tester means I don't get advance knowledge of a game's features. But it also means that when I say something positive about a game, those comments are clearly not because I got anything in return for my positive comments or out of fear that my Special Status will be revoked if I criticize the product -- it's unquestionably because it's what I really think.

I've had the pleasure of being invited to be a beta tester for several MMORPGs. I always appreciate such offers, but I always turn them down -- my independence means too much to me.

So there are, I think, good reasons to choose not to participate in beta testing. I won't say they're right for everybody, but I do think they're valid for some folks, including me.