We always have people disappointed when they do not get accepted into our beta test, so I thought that today I would say a little about the process.
For each beta test we have up to 3,000 applicants. For each beta test we accept around 30 or 40 testers. This is already an indication that tests will be hard to get into.
When we look at who to accept into a beta test, we make a list of the targets we need to cover. This is a list of distros, processors, graphics cards, sound cards, and other things we feel will affect a game.
We then look at a list of beta testers to see who fits each target. Our list is ordered by number of ‘points’ the beta tester has. Testers that have previously tested with us before, who have done well and found problems and been helpful, will have more points. Testers that have previously been accepted and who just treated the beta test as a way to play the game for free for a while, will have points deducted and will most likely never be accepted again. People who apply for tests, but who aren’t accepted, will be given a small number of points for enthusiasm, and after a number of applications will likely be accepted. However beware, if you just apply for everything, and then get accepted into a game you don’t test, you will blow your score for future betas.
So, when we have found a number of beta testers to cover each target area, we then look at other beta testers with high scores who will be accepted for ‘general good tester record’. We then accept a number of new testers who have never tested before, but who have shown enthusiasm for getting into a test. We finally then accept a couple of testers who have never applied before.
Finally, we allow people to short-cut the beta test application system and send us their receipt for pre-ordering the game. This is partially, I will happily admit, to make people buy the game. Why shouldn’t we, after all, its our job as a publisher to sell copies of the games we publish. It is also partially to give those who are enthusiastic to beta test a chance to prove they can help. As with any other beta tester, those who use this short-cut and do not do any testing, will be less likely to be accepted into future tests.
For every test, we get emails from people who are ‘disgusted’ that we didn’t accept them. Sure, I’m sorry that we cant accept everyone, but we only have enough space to accept one in every 50 (or more) or so testers, and swearing at us really won’t make us change our mind. ‘Wow, you swore at us, that’s great, we’d LOVE you to test for us now’…
we also get emails from people who are ‘better than other beta testers so we should accept them’. The testers we accept have usually already proven themselves, or have shown enough enthusiasm for testing that we accept them based on that. Just because you have a whole lab of computers to test on, doesn’t mean you will be a good tester, and certainly doesn’t make you better than a tester who has a single computer, but who reports many bugs on each beta they are part of. If you feel you can help, keep on applying, you will get in in the end, or do what many do and pre-order, and prove how good you are! Some of our best beta testers who now get accepted into every beta test started out by pre-ordering a game.