“Due to the potential economic and gameplay advantages of access to the QA server, QA Bug Forums, and Release Instructions prior to a Release we are no longer going to make those exclusive to Dev+. Starting with next release (Release 45) access to the QA server, QA Bug Forums and early drafts of the Release Instructions will be available to ALL paying backers regardless of level. This will put everyone on a level playing field and remove any potential advantages. […] Dev+ Forums and access to them will remain unchanged. Only access to the QA servers (and associated bug forums) is changing.”
Long apologizes for the fact that the “previous policy has allowed some players to gain advantage over others” — according to Reddit, those amounted to insider trading and economic advantages akin to those enjoyed (and exploited) by Guild Wars 2’s secret tester program.
But some long-time backers are annoyed, arguing that they’ve now lost one of the perceived perks of their support and will now see more competition for the bug reports they were incentivized to lodge. However, in statements to Massively OP, Long pointed out that QA access itself wasn’t part of any pledge purchase and that Dev+ forum access will remain intact.
“You could say there was a value associated with Dev+ that was temporarily increased due to a temporary policy that has now been reset to its original levels,” he clarified. “QA access was actually never part of any pledge or bundle purchase description. The only thing that they actually purchased was access to the Dev+ forums. For a time we limited access to only those who had Dev+ forum access, but it was never in any package description; it was only a policy which we are changing. The backers who are upset are not having anything they paid for removed (even if they clearly feel differently).”
Long also told us that he understands the frustration and is engaging in discussions with backers, both those who are miffed and those who believe the move is in the best interests of the game.
“Many players bought very expensive bundles and pledges to get to that level for a reason,” writes one player, one of the more reasonable ones on this side of the argument. “I know, I did. Slowly, things like Daily Standups were moved to General, and posts about things to come (with discussions on them) just did not happen anymore. We do get previews to Update of the Avatar posts, but Dev+ is no longer what we bought into.”
“After four years of having Dev+ I don’t feel the remotest sense of loss, devaluation of my pledge, or depreciation of my overall experience,” wrote another.