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The Daily Grind: Is beta testing just free labour?

Lesley Smith

It seems 2009 is the Summer of Betas. There certainly are a lot going on at the moment: Aion, Cities XL and Champions Online are just three of the most popular currently going on but the sheer concept of beta testing is a bit of a bug-bear amongst players. There are basically two camps: those who lap up a beta and treat it is a chance to explore the newest games (and seems to include most of Team Massively) or the latest content months before anyone else. Camp number two is a little more pragmatic. For these folks, betas (while fun and exciting) are just an excuse for Company X to save some money by getting a few million free and eager quality assurance monkeys. After all they ask for detailed bug reports and the same kind of information that is asked of professionals who get paid minimum wage to play games for hours.

So, readers, as you mull over your coffee and cereal this morning, I'm eager to know to which camp you see yourself belonging? Are betas just a cheap ploy to get a few thousand fresh pairs of eyes or a genuine attempt to gauge a new game? Drop your thoughts in the box below.

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