Swords of Legends Online asks you to become an unpaid QA tester

And you should not do so

    
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It’s so hard not to throw shade at MMO studios that try to outsource paid positions to players — or even worse, to charge them for the “privilege” of testing early content. And yet it’s so depressingly widespread in this genre that when Gameforge and Swords of Legends Online beckons players to become a de facto unpaid quality assurance team member, we are running out of side-eyes to give.

Then again, perhaps you really are into SOLO to the point that you’d be up for joining a team that tests upcoming content in order to iron out the bugs. If so, SOLO is asking for adult applicants who have “reached max level and are able to clear current raid content” to apply. These volunteers will have to sign an NDA and put aside time on the weekend to put updates through their paces. Of course, if you’re really interesting in volunteerism, there are plenty of worthy causes, non-profits, and charities you could choose instead.

Source: SOLO via Reddit
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Utakata

Nah…gonna wait ’til they’re looking for volunteer developers. >.>

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NeoWolf

This isn’t a great way of doing things as the only people they will attract are those who want SOLO content first, not those who want to bug find and test content.

But then I guess this is no different than any other company out there with an Early Access product out and for sale as they are doing exactly the same thing.

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Armsman

If you don’t want to beta test, don’t beta test. Actual player Beta Testers for new content/expansions are nothing new.

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PanagiotisLial1

From what I know playing games from Gameforge, they keep the functionally minimal staff amount depending on the games scope and popularity and shy from making investments on personnel so not sure if its a surprise

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Vincent Clark

My hot take: It’s a bad idea. I don’t care if it’s good for the company short term if it is bad for the game and it’s players long term. And we have seen enough examples of that on this very website that I don’t need to rehash it.

No thanks.

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Witches

Not that different from PTS.

Only did it in one game, but i was rewarded with cash shop currency, and other game stuff. Not the same as payment but worth it.

Games are pretty stingy, they obviously need bigger teams, but the temptation of saving the cost of the wages of a hundred more employees is just too big. the money people are usually the type that think saving hundreds in employee wages while spending millions in lawyer fees makes sense.

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Vanquesse V

PTS usually don’t have specific testing times, NDA or an application process that only accepts high end raiders though.

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wratts

There are some good reasons to do it too. In corporate development, a major trend the past 10 years has been towards getting product iteratively into the hands of users, specifically because they tend to find things (and have end user reactions) that testers don’t always find.

The key problem with “professional testing” is that it doesn’t perfectly replicate the end user experience, and disinterested testers don’t use the platforms in the same ways invested users do. Downside of course is that you don’t get systematic testing or consistent reports out of user-testers

Frankly in gaming it’s a case of user testing is market efficient. Players are so interested in getting early access to content that they’ll pay monetarily and with time for the privilege. Studios get access to feedback in a more controlled environment without releasing to the wilds. It’s not perfect, but there are definite advantages

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Hikari Kenzaki

This is true. There is an axiom that the closer you are to a project, the harder it is to see its faults.
A developer will often see things only as the project *should* work and not always how it *does* work.
QA testing goes out of its way to break a game. And we do. A lot.
But there is still no substitute for giving the game to actual players who’ve never seen how it *should* work.

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wratts

As a delivery manager, this is one of the biggest challenges I face. I’ve had tech leads who would come to me with a questionable design and say “is this really what we want to do? Here’s how this could go wrong”, and tech leads who will just say “well, it was in the design. I did my job, talk to functional.”

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Hikari Kenzaki

How a team/company responds to its tester and support feedback is definitely a long-running issue not specific to the game industry. We’re an expense. I’ve only worked for maybe 2 companies that didn’t treat us as such and treated us as an asset that reduced costs.
But the right teams/companies do exist who listen.

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wratts

Much like data management. If done well, quality management can be a real strategic differentiator, but it takes actual foresight to make it happen.

I end up working a fair number of testing bids with my clients, and broadly speaking I have two offerings.

  • I have a nearshore TQM center out of Canada that can do full value stream mapping, identification of risks and establishment of quality metrics, process analysis on how requirements are built and traced into deliverable artifacts, automation and machine learning around where defects are most likely to represent and quantification of their business impact.
  • I have offshore testers who can run a mix of automated and manual scripts for $12/hr with all corporate costs loaded in
  • I can sell the hell out of our offshore, and I can make a lot of compelling pitches for TQM. I have yet to close a TQM deal

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    Hikari Kenzaki

    So, here’s the thing. And maybe readers don’t want to hear it cause it’s more fun to join in the shade party, but here goes.

    I’ve worked in Application, Tech, and Community support for about two decades. These teams deserve support and pay commensurate with their work. This is the group in a company that is almost always undervalued and seen as an expense only. That may very well be the angle that Gameforge is coming at here.

    However, there are reasons why someone might look at doing something like this.

  • You already play the game a lot (able to beat current raid content is no small feat in SOLO)
  • You would like a more structured way to provide feedback (again on the game you already play) that is more likely to see results
  • You are a student in a game industry-related field (or any tech field, really) and would like to get some experience with QA testing, tools, and feedback processes.
  • This kind of program can often be used for credit in school and look good on a resume.
  • You have the ability to tell someone in a position of authority that you don’t have time right now. This is a big one. Not everyone is able to do this, so if you’re the type of person who can’t normally tell someone to go f*ck themselves, then ultimately, you don’t want to do this.
  • You will likely get anything you want/need in-game for free.
  • You’ve been in countless beta tests where no one listened to your feedback.
    Heck, release day on half a dozen games (SWTOR, any Funcom game, several more) already feel like unpaid QA anyway.
  • Now then. I have done this. I have done QA testing and volunteer mod/admin duties for a game company in my spare time. When they got to the point the game was actually generating a bit of revenue, I was the first person they hired. I was also the first person who got to expand my department and hire subordinates.
    However, this is a unique situation and shouldn’t be viewed as the ultimate goal. I was able to leverage my existing work experience (see above) as a community manager and support director along with the fact that I knew more about the game than anyone else.
    But, if any of the points above fit you, it might be something to consider.

    Stefan
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    Stefan

    You make some very good points perhaps we are looking at it from a far too cynical perspective, you seem to have done rather well for yourself and ended up making work out of your hobby what is always a nice thing to see.

    It is true that the experience i gathered back then as a young adolescent helped me later on in my career as certain basic principles of bug reporting carry over into other fields where you also have to report technical errors and elaborate on breakdowns/Downtime.

    Also a look behind the screens is always interesting to at least get some perspective and when you first open up their bug database and take a look you start to realize just how many things are being worked on at the same time.

    My initial reaction might be caused that out of my experience it was not so openly promoted or requested of players although it could be getting overblown as looking now it was just asked on their forums but there also a lot of talk recently about the poor treatment of QA testers and that is without doubt a cause for many to look at this with disgust initially.

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    Malcolm Swoboda

    They can pay.

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    Real

    The only difference between this and a PTS server is that they actually want valuable feedback. The “unpaid qa tester” and the “worthy causes, non-profits, and charities” comments aren’t really necessary…

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    Bereman99

    Yeah…I’m wondering where this moralizing and “You should not do so” was the last dozen times an unpaid testing situation…I mean, a beta test came around for a game?

    Especially the ones where you often had to pay for the “privilege” of that unpaid te- I mean beta.

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    Hikari Kenzaki

    To be fair to MOP, they have discussed on multiple occasions how paid alphas and betas are just unpaid QA testing, so this isn’t the first time they’ve went for this particular soapbox.
    They’re also not entirely wrong. It is something that the industry has managed to monetize by selling a broken game and calling it part of the user experience.
    Still, there are a several pros that might apply to the right individual (which I of course wrote another essay on above :D )

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    Bereman99

    Sure, and I remember hearing that opinion expressed in their Podcasts and such.

    This article just feels like it’s both being incredibly pointed in highlighting this specific instance as an issue, and being quite preachy about it, in a way that I find interesting, since most other beta tests and other unpaid tester situations haven’t been met with quite this kind of response.

    Like there’s a difference between mentioning that opinion in a Podcast or in a line or two of an article about something else, and having a full on article saying “This is a thing you should not do” in the byline beneath the title.

    Feels quite a bit more…judgmental than usual.

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    Hikari Kenzaki

    It’s a thing. I’ve gotten used to it. I fall into it, too. We’re a bunch of cranky old gamers reading a blog by cranky old gamers. :)
    (disclaimer: totally tongue-in-cheek here and mostly meant in a good way)

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    Malcolm Swoboda

    Not necessary, but they’re good.

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    somber_bliss

    You have to play every test and go through an application to even get in, sounds like a job and not just a, “Sure i got time to kill this weekend,” type thing.

    You do you though and do it if you can make that kinda commitment with your own time, awesome. I just don’t see the value in using what little time off I get having to play a game to help a company test stuff that makes them money and I get nothing outta it. Especially since it should be a paid job for someone else.

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    Real

    I didn’t read that you had to join every test anywhere on the posting. Where did you gather that?

    Also, it appears you’re equating what you consider a valuable usage of your time to an “objective.” I interpret this as a private beta test (not out of the ordinary) that people sign up for (not out of the ordinary) and is under an NDA (not out of the ordinary) with focused feedback sessions.

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    Bereman99

    Sounds like the old Palantir Program that the LOTRO devs used to run. And may still run – I haven’t checked in a while. If it’s still around, might want to throw some shade their way as well. It’s a very, very similar program to the one Gameforge here is looking to implement.

    Also, honestly sounds a bit like WoW’s Public Test Realm, but with extra steps and secrecy and more organization.

    Players being unpaid QA testers happens more frequently than people seem to realize, and companies aren’t always as upfront about it. I mean, that’s what beta tests ultimately are, aren’t they? Trading “experiences” (namely experiencing the game early) in exchange for unpaid testing? Hyping the player on the idea of trying the game or checking out new content before it’s live, getting to provide feedback and maybe impact the development, with no tangible benefit? Sound familiar?

    Of course, if you’re really interesting in volunteerism, there are plenty of worthy causes, non-profits, and charities you could choose instead.

    A person could feasibly do both, if that is what they are into. It’s not a zero sum situation.