Generation: Gamerz So You want to be a Beta-Tester?

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{tag [Cult]} {tag [OpEd]} {tag [PC]} {tag [X360]}

I have personally beta-tested a handful of games including Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies and Planetside among others. Today I stumbled across the "Microsoft Game Studios Beta Program" and thought you might like to hear a little about it. By going to and signing in with your Live ID you can find a host of Microsoft Beta Test information.

If you have a PC or an Xbox 360 then you're in luck because you can signup to be in the program. No, it does not mean you will be accepted into any particular game beta (like the new Shadowrun beta Xbox 360 is talking about) and each beta has specific guidelines that you must follow and equipment you must have.

For example, the Shadowrun beta looks like this:

  • Either an Xbox 360 with a hard drive or a high end PC running Windows Vista. We will be publishing the minimum spec for the PC shortly.
  • An Xbox Live Gold account.
  • Broadband access.
  • Enough time to play from home on a regular basis.
  • A willingness to communicate on the beta forums.

I signed up for the Shadowrun beta, but I don't have Windows Vista so I didn't bother to finish the registration yet. The Fanboy site has all the details on how to sign up for it.

To see all the beta testing going on at Microsoft, well the ones they want you to know about and need your help with, click on Available Connections on the Connect site. From there you can scroll through the whole list of what is going on. You will see the Game Studios Beta program listed there and can click to apply. You will fill out a quick survey about your gaming habits and equipment and once you send that off acceptance is almost automatic it seems. Of course being accepted into the program is different than actually beginning to test the games, so just sign up and forget about it until they contact you about something. If you have a PC and a 360 you are probably in a better position to get a beta gig on this site than if you just have a PC.

Non-Microsoft Beta Programs
If you're not really hip on working for the 'man' then you can look into some other beta test options like these below.

The Atari Forums is a good place to keep an eye on what's going on with the beta testing in the company. Game company forums are always a good place to keep an eye open. Several companies will use a recruiting agency but some of the big houses like to just do it themselves.

EA is a perfect example. When they wanted to beta test the latest LOTR game last year they posted it on their website and I am sure they were swamped with applications for it. So in addition to the forums you need to keep an eye on the gaming websites as well. I always try to post when I hear about a new beta test so you might want to check in with us as well for it.

Activision is one of the world's largest publishers. They have in the past often looked to the people who play the games to test the games for them. While I have not heard of anything in the recent past I am certain they will be looking again in the near future, especially since they want to go head-to-head with EA in all non-sports genres on the next-gen consoles. So scour their site and eventually you might find something interesting.

Beta Tracking Site
Sometimes you have to take a more active appraoch to finding the beta tests. Here are some sites where you can keep an eye on what's coming and going and where to go and try to get in.

Sourceforge An open-source development tracking site I am sure most of you are familiar with by now. It tracks thousands of projects that are in development and allows you to get involved by applying with the particular developers of the project, if they are looking.

BetaBase - Not mainly focused on games but applications in general. There are game listings though and you might get lucky.

BetaNews - If you just want to keep your finger on the pulse of the Beta-Test world then this is the place to go. More an informational site though there is a File Forum which is currently listing a few games as well as the MS XNA bets software.

BetaWatcher - more game related than the other sites as well as a useful site for beta news. Not exactly up-to-date anymore. It seems the 'band of friends' that run the site have either lost the key to the information well or are just out of energy altogether.

Centercode - Is not only a supplier of beta tracking software but they have an online beta testing database as well. The signup is quick and easy with a brief and then a more complete profile. Not so much about video games as software in general but it can't hurt to be in the database.

There is no surefire way to get into beta-testing of games and software. It is best just to try and try again. When I started I was lucky and someone I knew invited me into a second phase closed beta. The work I did on that got me invited into a first phase closed beta on another game. I am not a profesional, I do not get paid for it. But I enjoy being able to have my input in the games to make them better. Plus I get to play them before everyone else does, even if they do have more bugs than a stagnant Wisconsin pond in high summer.

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