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NDA What's the Point?

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  • EzhaeEzhae LondonPosts: 737Member

    In most cases NDA applies to games that are in fact still being worked on. Yes, some companies will abuse it as marketing/damage control tool, but 9 out of 10 times I actually had to agree to NDA it was warranted. 

    Now why NDA is good? Because when you pull alpha/beta testers from random pool you are bound to get some impatient troubled souls among. Those people, at the sight of slightest bug, instead of reporting it to the developers will rush off to public forums and moan how stuff is terrible and how the game is terrible and how anyone who wants to plays it is a sinner. They don't wait for next build or patch, they don't wait for developers response. They just go and talk about stuff they have no idea about. 

    When the NDA is used as intended however, you will see changes throughout the testing process, each build will usually improve some things, perhaps break others. That's how coding generally works. You iterate and adjust until you have product stable enough that it can be shipped. 

    Without NDA, you'd see millions of posts on different forums complainign about stuff that perhaps a week later becomes irrelevant because it was fixed/changed. But the posts stay, and they are providing false information to people without first-hand experience which may hurt the game's sales when it eventually launches. 

     

  • evilastroevilastro EdinburghPosts: 4,270Member

    Because often games in Beta do not reflect the release quality. Beta is when they open the floodgates to a larger but still controlled group. They should still be developing the game. And its unfair to judge a game in beta, as not all betas are treated like publicity stunts. Often the developers are genuinely interested in improving the game as much as possible before launch, which is when the game should be judged as a final product.

    When you are in beta you are given ways to communicate with the development team, the only reason to publish stuff in a 3rd party forum is to be a douchbag. You are usually given a period between the NDA being lifted and release, where you can openly spew forth your vitriol towards a game if they havent fixed what you hate.

  • delete5230delete5230 Posts: 2,961Member Uncommon

    I have no problem with the NDA. As games need to be fixed before the public gets their hands on the information.

    What I really hate are the squealers that will turn you in if you break it !..........I don't like squealers.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Standard practice and nothing to get worked up about. A contract like any other.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • FromHellFromHell NY, NYPosts: 1,311Member
    The point is you are testing a BETA. A BETA, an unfinished game, and they don´t want you to complain about bugs in an unfinished game in public, because you are a TESTER, not a reviewer, and they don´t want you to go to forums and make threads like "This game is crap because of X", "This game is broken, what a joke..."

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  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member
    I think that, post alpha testing stage, NDA is there so that the company can control the hype. By that I mean that they decide what gets released and not released so they can build up expectations by only showing what they want to show, i.e. only the good parts.
  • MacecardMacecard WokingPosts: 142Member Uncommon

    Why Have an NDA if information gets out, should get out anyway?

    1: So if someone does release some information and it causes the complete crash or failure of the game you (then developer) now have a contract you can use to sue the hell outta the person who did it.

    This is obviously a rare case but considering most of you are from the US where sueing for the tinyiest reasons is all the rage that you didnt see this reason? Covering yourself from a 1 in a million chance of being put under by a wayward alpha tester is worth getting them ALL to sign an NDA.

    And btw, it has nothing to do with feature or hiding industry secrets, its literally this, a way for companies to cover their asses.

    If you continue to make sweeping statements like you know what everyone everywhere thinks about a certain topic then I am going to shout at you.
    It easy to type 'I think this is the worst game ever'
    Rather than the 'This is the worst game ever'

  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member
    Originally posted by FromHell
    The point is you are testing a BETA. A BETA, an unfinished game, and they don´t want you to complain about bugs in an unfinished game in public, because you are a TESTER, not a reviewer, and they don´t want you to go to forums and make threads like "This game is crap because of X", "This game is broken, what a joke..."

    Except that the most damaging critique wont be about bugs, as those cen fixed, but rather the game play which cannot be as easily fixed. Specially post alpha-testing stage.

  • BMBenderBMBender Nowhere, NCPosts: 568Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    There are a variety of different reasons for an NDA.  One is that you don't want employees leaking critical trade secrets to your competitors.

     

    /snip

    I have a slight problem with this concept and I always have.  It made sense back in the UO/JG/EQ days when 3 guys in a garage could pump out a mmo in a couple yrs or so.  But these days mmos and the systems within them are so huge and bloated.  Any "trade" secret will long cease to be relevant by the time another company/group is able to implement it.  Or it becomes an "industry standard".  So no thats no longer a valid argument for an NDA. 

     

    It's p[urely about information throttling these days, however as we saw with SWTOR; it is a two edged sword if the product gets over hyped without "real"info available to consumers.

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  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,668Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BMBender
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    There are a variety of different reasons for an NDA.  One is that you don't want employees leaking critical trade secrets to your competitors.

    /snip

    I have a slight problem with this concept and I always have.  It made sense back in the UO/JG/EQ days when 3 guys in a garage could pump out a mmo in a couple yrs or so.  But these days mmos and the systems within them are so huge and bloated.  Any "trade" secret will long cease to be relevant by the time another company/group is able to implement it.  Or it becomes an "industry standard".  So no thats no longer a valid argument for an NDA. 

    It's p[urely about information throttling these days, however as we saw with SWTOR; it is a two edged sword if the product gets over hyped without "real"info available to consumers.

    It's still relevant. It may not be specifcally about 'trade secrets' but a developer will definitely have a marketing strategy for rolling out information and content reveals. Let's say there's some really neat aspect to the boss fights in your game and you've already set up press interviews and mail blasts around that. On the target date, all that information goes out and you get a carpet of coverage on it. The messaging not only is more effective when it's going out like that, but it's also the message that you're looking to get out there. Without the NDA, you have players trickling out their take on it which has several drawbacks

    1. it dilutes the impact of the announcement because a topic spread over several weeks has far less reach and ranking than a big hit over one or two days.
    2. it's not as interesting for the press and fansites to cover because the news is already out there
    3. what the players are relaying may not be what the event or mechanic is actually all about because they may either not have all the information or may not be seeing the bigger picture / long term effects.
    That's just some of the reasons from a marketing perspective. From a development perspective, it can often put content out there before it is finished which doesn't truly represent the content. A lot of what gets changed is completely transparent to the tester but makes a big impact on how the game plays.
     
    For example, one of the things that gets changed a lot during the beta tests is how players navigate the game world. As a player, you're rarely ever going to notice the subtle changes to the environment that are made to better lead you to and from different areas of content. However, during beta, that's being tracked and changes are being made. If players seem to be taking the long route around town to get somewhere, the devs will change lighting, terrain, signs and other small aspects so in those areas where the players were heading one direction they now naturally head in another.
     
    Also, players that have been in beta a while develop a different perspective of the game than new players will have. They begin travelling the world differently and using the content differently. What they relay about their experiences may not necessrily be the new player experience. The same goes for employees who have been playing the game for the past year or two.
     

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • AerowynAerowyn BUZZARDS BAY, MAPosts: 7,928Member
    Originally posted by atuerstar

    The NDA bound experiences I have had lead me to one conclusion.

     

    The game is bad. They want to be absolutely positive these testers cannot initiate negative advertising and affect sales by leaking the truth.

    I have alpha tested numerous games and everyone had NDA... actually can't think of really any MMO that didn't have NDA for alpha.. 

    I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  • SlickShoesSlickShoes EdinburghPosts: 1,037Member Uncommon

    I think some games should drop the NDA earlier than they do but an NDA is 100% necessary. You need to make sure your ideas are safe and no one is stealing them, your game could be a total train wreck at certain stages of testing and if you release that information to the public they will dismiss the game even if it is fixed at release.

    I worked on GTA San Andreas and my NDA only expired last year, so for 6 years I could not tell anyone that I worked on an expansion pack for that game that in the end was never released. If someone had leaked that was being made at the time then people would have went bananas hounding rockstar to find out when it would be released and when it never saw the light of day those people would feel cheated.

    The general public don't understand game development, exposing buggys alpha and beta games is not good business. Enthusiasts understand the stages a bit better and how games can change drastically but if Joe Public tried to play a buggy Alpha and failed miserably he would never touch that game again.

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  • DeniZgDeniZg ZagrebPosts: 669Member Uncommon

    NDA makes sense in early stages of the game, where developer company does not want to fuel speculations and bad press about game systems still in development stage.

    NDA when game is close to release means: We don't have confidence in our product. Let's cash in on box sales to uninformed customers and run for the hills.

  • LienhartLienhart Markham, ONPosts: 635Member

    Read some of this and stopped early.

    Start working in the software world to understand why we have NDAs. MMORPGs are not exempt from this.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,668Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by SlickShoes

    I worked on GTA San Andreas...

    My brother and I thank you for many, many hours of wonderful entertainment. :)

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    I don't even know why game companies bother with an NDA now.  Heck 90% of the time you can find info leaked by individuals on youtube,  and then you have gaming site thatpost all kinds of stuff about it, and when folks comment they get nailed for breaking the nda.  

    I just think the nda is a hype tool now anyways, and usually by the time you are in beta, you are just about ready to push out the game anyways.

     

  • ThomasN7ThomasN7 87.18.7.148 1, NJPosts: 6,690Member
    Originally posted by atuerstar

    The NDA bound experiences I have had lead me to one conclusion.

     

    The game is bad. They want to be absolutely positive these testers cannot initiate negative advertising and affect sales by leaking the truth.

    Couldn't agree more. NDA is noting but a bunch of nonsense. If devs can't atleast give players a polished experience perhaps they aren't fit to make mmos.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rednecksith
    Originally posted by Mtibbs1989
    Originally posted by Rednecksith

    NDAs exist to prevent bad press about game features which may not be complete / functioning properly at the time of the beta. There's nothing wrong with them, and I support their use and enforcement because misinformation can be incredibly damaging. Especially when you consider that features maligned during alpha / beta test might actually be working as advertised at release.

    That being said, any publisher / developer which engages in the practice of review embargoes is to be treated with contempt and scorn, and any website / publication which agrees to abide by them is to be treated with much the same. For those not in the know, review embargoes are the practice of a publisher forbidding a gaming review site / magazine from publishing a review until the game's official release day, despite the fact that said game has actually been sent out by the publisher to be reviewed weeks ahead of time. Essentially, it prevents reviewers from warning folks ahead of time that a game might suck, in order to maximize the profit of developers & publishers off of preorders for a product which they damn well know won't sell well once official reviews denouncing it as crap begin to circulate.

    I understand that review sites make money by playing sucky-sucky with game publishers, but being willing to openly deceive and / or mislead people (due to misinformation or lies by omission) into purchasing products which would generally be considered universally inferior in order to justify their own existence is just disgusting.

    Bottom line is, don't trust publishers which issue review embargoes, and certainly don't trust review sites which enforce them.

    Sorry if this has been touched on earlier, or if this is redundant information within the thread. I honestly was too lazy to read the majority of it. I'm just rambling on my opinions pertaining loosely to the subject matter based upon my recent experiences in getting screwed out of valuable money due to the aforementioned practices.

     

     I can understand that bad press is bad press. However, NDA's are usually used for early stages of developement so by the time the NDA is released which is around closed/open beta the product will be exposed to a lot of press regardless of good or bad. Which will essentially rule out any usefulness of the NDA. If you're going to use an NDA maintain it unless the product is released to avoid the negative press.

    I understand that. What I mean to say is that I believe that an NDA actually has a legitimate use, unlike a review embargo which is used purely for malicious / dishonest means.

    As a recent purchaser of Aliens: Colonial Marines (a game under embargo), I do have quite a bit of bias in that respect however, so as always take what I say with a few industrial-sized bags of salt.

    To the contrary, review embargoes make a lot of sense, for the reasons I laid out earlier:  let the reviewers take their time and get things right rather than rushing to be the first one to say anything, even though your first impressions are likely wrong.  If you buy a game before the review embargo ends and it ends up being terrible, it's your own fault.

    Well, I'm assuming that the embargo ends by launch day.  If the game has launched and there is still an NDA up, then something is wrong.

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,998Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Aerowyn
    Originally posted by atuerstar

    The NDA bound experiences I have had lead me to one conclusion.

     

    The game is bad. They want to be absolutely positive these testers cannot initiate negative advertising and affect sales by leaking the truth.

    I have alpha tested numerous games and everyone had NDA... actually can't think of really any MMO that didn't have NDA for alpha.. 

    And that makes perfect sense really, starts getting a bit ridiculous as the game progresses through various press reviews, convention and increasingly larger open betas and yet they still hold the NDA, sometimes right up to a week or two before launch.

    Take DF:UW for example, supposedly was nearly "launch ready" back in November and I think the NDA is still up to this date.  Classic example of NDA abuse IMO, especially since they started taking people's  money to get into the "beta"

     

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BMBender
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    There are a variety of different reasons for an NDA.  One is that you don't want employees leaking critical trade secrets to your competitors.

     

    /snip

    I have a slight problem with this concept and I always have.  It made sense back in the UO/JG/EQ days when 3 guys in a garage could pump out a mmo in a couple yrs or so.  But these days mmos and the systems within them are so huge and bloated.  Any "trade" secret will long cease to be relevant by the time another company/group is able to implement it.  Or it becomes an "industry standard".  So no thats no longer a valid argument for an NDA. 

     

    It's p[urely about information throttling these days, however as we saw with SWTOR; it is a two edged sword if the product gets over hyped without "real"info available to consumers.

    It depends some on exactly which industry you're talking about.  Think of how AMD was able to keep word about Eyefinity from leaking out ahead of the Radeon HD 5000 series launch long enough not merely to keep Nvidia from implementing a competing technology in their Fermi cards, but to keep Nvidia from being able to entirely match AMD's functionality two years later in their Kepler cards.  That gave AMD an extended period of time in which they could say, "We can do this and Nvidia can't."  If someone had told Nvidia what AMD was working on the day AMD started, Nvidia could readily have matched the functionality shortly after AMD's cards launched.

    Even within MMORPGs, it's one thing to say that you're going to have such and such feature, and it's entirely another to offer great detail on how you're going to implement it.  Once a game is out and anyone can play it, lots of people can mess with it and figure out a lot of details of how it is implemented.  That makes it much easier for a competitor to copy it than merely having a high-level description of "it works kind of like this".

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,278Member Uncommon

    To hide a week mmorpg until we buy it.

     

    If you game is good and has longevity, tell it to the world. If it's a 3 month game, NDA up till launch.

  • centkincentkin Asbury, NJPosts: 944Member Uncommon
    NDAs are very serious things especially near the beginning of the process.  We are not talking the toy betas here where people get in for pre-ordering or being person 750 on a site like this one in the giveaways section.  If you get in 6 months to 18 months before a game is released then the NDA protects the game from having features that may or may not be there or work the same way at launch ending up revealed and/or secrets about the game that other games may copy before they end up released.
  • uidCausticuidCaustic acworth, GAPosts: 128Member
    Fun thing about NDA's, unless you can account for every single tester, and these testers are coming into your offices every day, there is no way to enforce them.
  • dave6660dave6660 New York, NYPosts: 2,543Member Uncommon
    I understand NDA's for employees, I've had to sign them myself.  They have an intimate knowledge of the product being developed.  But once it leaves the office borders and gets into the hands of John Q Beta Tester then all bets are off.  It's foolishly naive to think they aren't going to talk.  "Three may keep a secret if two are dead".

    “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”
    -- Herman Melville

  • birdycephonbirdycephon Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 1,314Member
    The NDA is there not to ruin public opinion of the game due to bugs, experimental features, unfinisheed gameplay or graphics, lag, etc.
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