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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » NDA What's the Point?

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  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 12:17:05 AM#1

 What is a NDA?

 A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA),proprietary information agreement (PIA), or secrecy agreement, is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to or by third parties. It's a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between the parties to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information or trade secrets. As such, an NDA protects nonpublic business information.

 NDAs are commonly signed when two companiesindividuals, or other entities (such as partnerships, societies, etc.) are considering doing business and need to understand the processes used in each other's business for the purpose of evaluating the potential business relationship. NDAs can be "mutual", meaning both parties are restricted in their use of the materials provided, or they can restrict the use of material by a single party.

 

 Summary: it's to prevent any information about the product being test/developed from being leaked to the public.

 

 

 Why do I bring this up? 

 

 Well, when it comes to gaming and especially the MMO circuit key features and gameplay can make or break the worthiness of a game. Whether it be network connectivity, PvP features, PvE features, or overall game-killing bugs. These things need to properly be discussed. If you're not able to properly discuss key features with people who are interested in the game how can you properly come up with fixes or improvements?

 Now, lets talk in the realm of reality and look at it from a consumer standpointWe all know it's suppose to be a legal contract that a person is not able to discuss any key features about the game whether it be the seamless world vs. heavily zoned or if it's another feature that might be a game-killer; you're not allowed to discuss it with anyone outside the guidelines of the contract. However, we can thoroughly say this information is still leaked regardless of the NDA contract.

So if the general public are still receiving information about the game why keep it secret from the general public?

 

 Lets look at it in the aspect of a business perspective. You want to prevent any key features of your product from being stolen and used to improve someone elses product right? Of course! However, it's safe to say that because of the ability to easily obtain early alpha access to these games that also means your competition is able to infiltrate their way into it and aquire the information they want as well.

 So, why bother writing up a NDA if your competition is still aquiring the ideas within your product?

 

 Instead of being "secretive" with your already publicly released product. Why not allow people to publicly discuss the pros and cons of the product with the general populous to improve your products design and patch any flaws. Companies need to realise that the same people who are discussing these key features and recommending these improvements are the same people who are interested in buying the product. Which means they're there to insure that the quality of the product is top notch.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  atuerstar

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 240

3/15/13 12:23:15 AM#2

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.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 12:28:30 AM#3
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 wouldn't quite say a game is "bad" however, without proper discussion with the community who's interested in the game it's hard to communicate and come to a conclusion as to how to improve the product at hand.

 Which is why I completely understand your answer, without the proper information channels opened up there's not enough feedback from the players for the developer to understand the issues that lie at hand when it comes to a games developement. If the channels of communication are cut off from one another the developer doesn't 100% understand what's wrong with a product and in return a bad product can be produced.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Torvaldr

Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 6110

3/15/13 12:30:58 AM#4

Maybe it's to protect trade secrets, but I think more it's to prevent experiment features from becoming news nuggest to fuel public conjecture.

I've been in several closed alpha or beta tests.  Developers have a vision for a system and how they think it will fit into and work with their game.  They test internally and then with their public alpha group.  They may try several different approaches or tweaks based on feedback.  There always seems to be a few people who like to take some of those experiments or tweaks out of context to cause a stir.

The NDA is there so they can have some breathing room to create and experiment.  It doesn't prevent mouthy people from talking, but it does provide a framework to remove those who do.

Curse you AquaScum!

  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6222

3/15/13 12:34:45 AM#5
NDA is a clever form of hype. It leaves a taste of mystery to be desired from behind the wall.
"Hey whats going on behind that wall? I want to get in."

People get caught up in the mystery of the title that they cough over money to get into betas and behind the NDA.

very clever. But I am only MMOEXPOSED.
who cares about lessons in exposing hype...

  Denambren

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/03/08
Posts: 318

3/15/13 12:41:43 AM#6

Well.. most of us know where this is heading, but here it goes.

 

The NDA thing is just a scheme thought up by some clever business people working the law, with the intent of giving only paid review sites a voice for writing positive previews of said game. The most recent Defiance preview on mmorpg.com is a good example of that, where a good chunk of the reply thread was deleted because it had negative criticism based on user experience in the beta. Of course, those users violated the NDA scheme by talking about the game, and so whatever, right? But then you look around the internet for more feedback on the game, and you start to notice that the only feedback that exists is in the form of paid previews on review sites.

 

When a  game company just deletes negative criticism from their forum, then they're being unreasonable. But when they have the law backing them up with this clever NDA scheme,  they instead become a victim. The NDA scheme allows these game companies (and paid review sites) to switch from bad guy to victim when deleting negative criticism - it's a very clever system.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 12:42:05 AM#7
Originally posted by Torvaldr

Maybe it's to protect trade secrets, but I think more it's to prevent experiment features from becoming news nuggest to fuel public conjecture.

I've been in several closed alpha or beta tests.  Developers have a vision for a system and how they think it will fit into and work with their game.  They test internally and then with their public alpha group.  They may try several different approaches or tweaks based on feedback.  There always seems to be a few people who like to take some of those experiments or tweaks out of context to cause a stir.

The NDA is there so they can have some breathing room to create and experiment.  It doesn't prevent mouthy people from talking, but it does provide a framework to remove those who do.

  I understand that a developer invisions the game in a specific way. However, it's best to gather as much information as possible and limiting communication channels could potentially hinder proper developement of a game. However, maybe it's the lack of communication and understand that a developer is willing to read or listen to that is the actual problem at hand. For example: Warhammer Online.

 Anyone who has played that game understands many of the downsides to it. I myself being an alpha tester saw major flaws within the game and was able to discuss them with other alpha testers. However, when you have a rambo lead developer like Mark Jacobs at the helm whos notorious line was, "working as intended." there's only so much help the testers can give before the product becomes a sinking ship.

 However, I still firmly believe that cutting off communication about a game only hinders the developement of a game and even though a customer agrees to the NDA it does not prevent the information from being leaked.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 12:50:15 AM#8
Originally posted by MMOExposed
NDA is a clever form of hype. It leaves a taste of mystery to be desired from behind the wall.
"Hey whats going on behind that wall? I want to get in."

People get caught up in the mystery of the title that they cough over money to get into betas and behind the NDA.

very clever. But I am only MMOEXPOSED.
who cares about lessons in exposing hype...

 While I know some companies do "sell" the ability to attain access to their betas and that idea of think is increasing it's still very possible for people to obtain keys to gain access to the content. It could be used as a clever vale of mystery to peak the publics interest. In addition I've never had to pay to obtain access to these alpha tests. It simply took adding my system specs and general information about myself.

Some titles included TERA, Aion, RIFT, GW2, and BF3.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  laokoko

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/14/09
Posts: 1937

3/15/13 12:58:57 AM#9

I've done a few testing.  I kind of agree with someone that have posted.  They dont' want people know that the game "at that state is bad".  Else the forum will be fill with negative comment and how imcompetent the developers are which could cost them money in the future.

Aka with NDA, the game get blostered and hiped.  With NDA all the mystery is gone, all it shows is just how bad the game at that state is and people mocking the game.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 1:00:13 AM#10
Originally posted by Denambren

Well.. most of us know where this is heading, but here it goes.

 

The NDA thing is just a scheme thought up by some clever business people working the law, with the intent of giving only paid review sites a voice for writing positive previews of said game. The most recent Defiance preview on mmorpg.com is a good example of that, where a good chunk of the reply thread was deleted because it had negative criticism based on user experience in the beta. Of course, those users violated the NDA scheme by talking about the game, and so whatever, right? But then you look around the internet for more feedback on the game, and you start to notice that the only feedback that exists is in the form of paid previews on review sites.

 

When a  game company just deletes negative criticism from their forum, then they're being unreasonable. But when they have the law backing them up with this clever NDA scheme,  they instead become a victim. The NDA scheme allows these game companies (and paid review sites) to switch from bad guy to victim when deleting negative criticism - it's a very clever system.

 I could see how it could be a little scheme to setup deals with the media by releasing tadbits of information here and there to increase hype. It would also make sense as to how a developer could fall victim to the very same scheme. Hype is built up so much that when the game is released it's a complete let down overall. For example: SWTOR

 What I don't understand is that if a company wants make as much money as they possibly can, it'd be to listen to the customers and by allowing public discussion of the game. This would help improve the overall experience of the game. They can still limit the amount of people able to test the game and they're also able to keep key features tucked away by limiting portions of the game accessible to testers just like they do now.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Magiknight

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/10/09
Posts: 762

3/15/13 1:01:18 AM#11
The NDA is just there for developers to be a bitch. 90% of the games suck anyways
  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 1:05:14 AM#12
Originally posted by laokoko

I've done a few testing.  I kind of agree with someone that have posted.  They dont' want people know that the game "at that state is bad".  Else the forum will be fill with negative comment and how imcompetent the developers are which could cost them money in the future.

Aka with NDA, the game get blostered and hiped.  With NDA all the mystery is gone, all it shows is just how bad the game at that state is and people mocking the game.

 I Maybe it's because I'm able to access these betas with no issue at all is the reason I see no need for the NDA. However, I believe that one of the biggest enemies to games in the long is the hype that is generated. Sure they might sell 5-10 million copies. But if they don't have a proper product in the end the game will still be a dud.

 Once again I think this might lie with the lack of communication between developers and the testing audiance.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13787

3/15/13 1:09:27 AM#13

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.

With media coverage, a common reason for an NDA is to eliminate the rush to be the first to post something.  The problem is that whichever site posts information about a game first is likely to get the most attention and page hits.  If a game gave media permission to post about a game publicly as soon as they got access, there would be a rush to post things 5 minutes after you first played the game--and before you had any idea what you were doing.  The most widely read critiques of your game could easily be based on misunderstandings or even factually wildly wrong.

The fix for that is an NDA.  The idea is to say that you get access right now, but aren't allowed to talk about it publicly for a week or whatever.  Everyone gets to talk about it at the same time, so as long as you have your write-up done by that date and time, no one else is allowed to beat you to it and steal your page hits.  That means you have a week or whatever to mull over what you think about a game, and hopefully have some idea of what you're talking about before you post a preview.

With players, a lot depends on how early in development a game is.  If you still have an NDA up a week before launch, players should suspect that you're hiding something.  But if you think your game is a year away from launch (and you're actually two years away from launch, because it's going to take longer than you think) and a bunch of things are going to radically change before launch, you don't want a bunch of negative press from players talking about glaring flaws in the game that can and will be fixed long before launch.

I'm not talking about the usual "I disagree with this game design decision" stuff.  Rather, I'm talking more about glaring bugs (e.g., it crashes when you do this) and major features that simply aren't implemented yet.  If you were to try to "play" a project I'm working on right now, for example, you wouldn't like it, at least if you tried to treat it like a finished game.  For starters, there isn't combat yet, nor crafting.  Your "character" consists of a single cylinder that is broken in several ways--and that I don't fix because it's a placeholder that is going to be deleted, anyway.  Rocks are pretty glaringly floating in mid-air, as is the player.  That's all fixable, and going to be fixed, but after the game has launched, you don't want people who are potentially interested in the game searching on Google, finding criticism of things that were fixed long before release, concluding that the game must be terrible, and then declining to try it out.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 1:15:12 AM#14
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.

With media coverage, a common reason for an NDA is to eliminate the rush to be the first to post something.  The problem is that whichever site posts information about a game first is likely to get the most attention and page hits.  If a game gave media permission to post about a game publicly as soon as they got access, there would be a rush to post things 5 minutes after you first played the game--and before you had any idea what you were doing.  The most widely read critiques of your game could easily be based on misunderstandings or even factually wildly wrong.

The fix for that is an NDA.  The idea is to say that you get access right now, but aren't allowed to talk about it publicly for a week or whatever.  Everyone gets to talk about it at the same time, so as long as you have your write-up done by that date and time, no one else is allowed to beat you to it and steal your page hits.  That means you have a week or whatever to mull over what you think about a game, and hopefully have some idea of what you're talking about before you post a preview.

With players, a lot depends on how early in development a game is.  If you still have an NDA up a week before launch, players should suspect that you're hiding something.  But if you think your game is a year away from launch (and you're actually two years away from launch, because it's going to take longer than you think) and a bunch of things are going to radically change before launch, you don't want a bunch of negative press from players talking about glaring flaws in the game that can and will be fixed long before launch.

I'm not talking about the usual "I disagree with this game design decision" stuff.  Rather, I'm talking more about glaring bugs (e.g., it crashes when you do this) and major features that simply aren't implemented yet.  If you were to try to "play" a project I'm working on right now, for example, you wouldn't like it, at least if you tried to treat it like a finished game.  For starters, there isn't combat yet, nor crafting.  Your "character" consists of a single cylinder that is broken in several ways--and that I don't fix because it's a placeholder that is going to be deleted, anyway.  Rocks are pretty glaringly floating in mid-air, as is the player.  That's all fixable, and going to be fixed, but after the game has launched, you don't want people who are potentially interested in the game searching on Google, finding criticism of things that were fixed long before release, concluding that the game must be terrible, and then declining to try it out.

 So to summarize your entire post it's about press coverage rather than a proper end product? 

 

"With media coverage, a common reason for an NDA is to eliminate the rush to be the first to post something.  The problem is that whichever site posts information about a game first is likely to get the most attention and page hits.  If a game gave media permission to post about a game publicly as soon as they got access, there would be a rush to post things 5 minutes after you first played the game--and before you had any idea what you were doing.  The most widely read critiques of your game could easily be based on misunderstandings or even factually wildly wrong." - You

 I like this comment right here and many media organizations are notorious for how vague they word their articles. When articles are released after XX amount of time due to an NDA many reporters are very vague with their findings of a games features. Which can lead to over hyping a products features and in turn makes it just as bad as having improper information being relayed.

 

 If one simply hides negative criticism of their product they're more likely to cover it up rather than attending to the issues  immediately. Which is where we get the current developer mindset that flawed games are allowed to be released.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13787

3/15/13 1:35:49 AM#15
Originally posted by Mtibbs1989
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.

With media coverage, a common reason for an NDA is to eliminate the rush to be the first to post something.  The problem is that whichever site posts information about a game first is likely to get the most attention and page hits.  If a game gave media permission to post about a game publicly as soon as they got access, there would be a rush to post things 5 minutes after you first played the game--and before you had any idea what you were doing.  The most widely read critiques of your game could easily be based on misunderstandings or even factually wildly wrong.

The fix for that is an NDA.  The idea is to say that you get access right now, but aren't allowed to talk about it publicly for a week or whatever.  Everyone gets to talk about it at the same time, so as long as you have your write-up done by that date and time, no one else is allowed to beat you to it and steal your page hits.  That means you have a week or whatever to mull over what you think about a game, and hopefully have some idea of what you're talking about before you post a preview.

With players, a lot depends on how early in development a game is.  If you still have an NDA up a week before launch, players should suspect that you're hiding something.  But if you think your game is a year away from launch (and you're actually two years away from launch, because it's going to take longer than you think) and a bunch of things are going to radically change before launch, you don't want a bunch of negative press from players talking about glaring flaws in the game that can and will be fixed long before launch.

I'm not talking about the usual "I disagree with this game design decision" stuff.  Rather, I'm talking more about glaring bugs (e.g., it crashes when you do this) and major features that simply aren't implemented yet.  If you were to try to "play" a project I'm working on right now, for example, you wouldn't like it, at least if you tried to treat it like a finished game.  For starters, there isn't combat yet, nor crafting.  Your "character" consists of a single cylinder that is broken in several ways--and that I don't fix because it's a placeholder that is going to be deleted, anyway.  Rocks are pretty glaringly floating in mid-air, as is the player.  That's all fixable, and going to be fixed, but after the game has launched, you don't want people who are potentially interested in the game searching on Google, finding criticism of things that were fixed long before release, concluding that the game must be terrible, and then declining to try it out.

 So to summarize your entire post it's about press coverage rather than a proper end product? 

If one simply hides negative critizim of their product they're more likely to cover it up rather than attending to the issues  immediately. Which is where we get the current developer mindset that flawed games are allowed to be released.

Employee NDAs are to keep your trade secrets properly secret.  Often they're more about preventing competitors from stealing your secrets than anything about the media.

Media NDAs are, indeed, about press coverage.  But there, the NDA doesn't change the product, and nothing the media can say will change the product.  The NDA does, however, remove pressure on media members to have to be available to play your game the moment they first get access.  It also improves the quality of media coverage, not by making it systematically more positive, but by making everyone wait until they have some idea of what they're talking about before posting a write-up.  That means that we the readers get better informed opinions with fewer glaring factual errors.

Player NDAs aren't about ignoring criticism in general, but about restricting it to productive channels.  If a player notices that when you do such and such, the game crashes, and tells the developers, they can fix it.  Telling the entire world about it doesn't affect the developers fixing it; it just generates negative publicity for the game for no good reason--and that can make developers more hesitant to invite as many players in, resulting in a less tested product.

Players who complain that they were in a beta and the company didn't listen to feedback often don't realize that they're giving the wrong kind of feedback entirely.  If you're in a beta and the game has lots of loading screens as you pass from one zone to the next and you say they should make it an instanced world, that's useless feedback.  That's a game decision that was baked into the cake years ago.  Developers mostly aren't looking to see if players agree with their game design decisions or not; in many cases, some players will and some won't.

If you find bugs and give enough detail that the bug is easily reproducible, and the developers don't fix any of your bugs, then maybe you've got more of a complaint.  But this needs to be clear bugs, not just disagreeing with game design decisions.

  User Deleted
3/15/13 1:39:19 AM#16
I guess to keep reporters/reviewers from publishing anything when they're still possibly making changes. These days you can go to any number of streaming or discussion sites though and see the game, so I don't really see the point either.
  laokoko

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/14/09
Posts: 1937

3/15/13 1:43:43 AM#17
Originally posted by Mtibbs1989
Originally posted by laokoko

I've done a few testing.  I kind of agree with someone that have posted.  They dont' want people know that the game "at that state is bad".  Else the forum will be fill with negative comment and how imcompetent the developers are which could cost them money in the future.

Aka with NDA, the game get blostered and hiped.  With NDA all the mystery is gone, all it shows is just how bad the game at that state is and people mocking the game.

 I Maybe it's because I'm able to access these betas with no issue at all is the reason I see no need for the NDA. However, I believe that one of the biggest enemies to games in the long is the hype that is generated. Sure they might sell 5-10 million copies. But if they don't have a proper product in the end the game will still be a dud.

 Once again I think this might lie with the lack of communication between developers and the testing audiance.

eih? if a game going to flop, it's going to flop.  At least they sold 5-10 million copies and loss less money.

If you the CEO of the game studio, do you want to loss more money or less money?

Besides, as far as I know most games in beta have a beta forum.  You are suppose to give feedback to the developer, and maybe discuss among with other players in beta.  I don't see how discussing beta with other players that arn't even in beta helps.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13787

3/15/13 1:45:38 AM#18
Originally posted by Mtibbs1989

 So to summarize your entire post it's about press coverage rather than a proper end product? 

 

"With media coverage, a common reason for an NDA is to eliminate the rush to be the first to post something.  The problem is that whichever site posts information about a game first is likely to get the most attention and page hits.  If a game gave media permission to post about a game publicly as soon as they got access, there would be a rush to post things 5 minutes after you first played the game--and before you had any idea what you were doing.  The most widely read critiques of your game could easily be based on misunderstandings or even factually wildly wrong." - You

 I like this comment right here and many media organizations are notorious for how vague they word their articles. When articles are released after XX amount of time due to an NDA many reporters are very vague with their findings of a games features. Which can lead to over hyping a products features and in turn makes it just as bad as having improper information being relayed.

 

 If one simply hides negative criticism of their product they're more likely to cover it up rather than attending to the issues  immediately. Which is where we get the current developer mindset that flawed games are allowed to be released.

Let's move away from games slightly and talk about video card launches instead.  That's hardware, rather than software.  The final masks from which the silicon will be made have to be done several months before launch and can't be changed later.  By the time AMD or Nvidia sends review sample cards to a bunch of tech media sites, the final product is what it is and nothing that the reviews say can change it.

It takes time to do a proper review of a new video card, however.  You need to run a bunch of different video cards in exactly the same test with exactly the same other hardware to compare how they do.  And you need to do that with a bunch of different tests, as any one test could easily be a weird outlier.  A lot of different things can go wrong in testing that make your data garbage.

Meanwhile, your readers want to see the information as soon as possible.  If one of your competitors is allowed to post a snap review a few hours after he gets the card, then gamers who want information on the new card will flock to his site.  By the time your review is ready, it's old news, and not so many people will read it.  For web sites that live and die by page hits for advertisers, this is a big problem.

That would lead to most or all tech review sites posting quick snap reviews of hardware as soon as they possibly can.  Those quick snap reviews will mostly be worthless, as they don't have enough data to draw any reasonable conclusions.  Who exactly would benefit from that?  An NDA says that everyone has time to do a proper review before anyone can post it.  That means that you can write up a good review without having to worry that it will be old news by the time you post it.

-----

If the point of an NDA were to suppress important criticism, then how do you explain that the NDA is eventually lifted?  Criticism that would have been valid during the NDA period will still be made if it isn't fixed before the NDA ends.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2868

 
OP  3/15/13 1:56:51 AM#19
Originally posted by Quizzical

Employee NDAs are to keep your trade secrets properly secret.  Often they're more about preventing competitors from stealing your secrets than anything about the media.

Media NDAs are, indeed, about press coverage.  But there, the NDA doesn't change the product, and nothing the media can say will change the product.  The NDA does, however, remove pressure on media members to have to be available to play your game the moment they first get access.  It also improves the quality of media coverage, not by making it systematically more positive, but by making everyone wait until they have some idea of what they're talking about before posting a write-up.  That means that we the readers get better informed opinions with fewer glaring factual errors.

Player NDAs aren't about ignoring criticism in general, but about restricting it to productive channels.  If a player notices that when you do such and such, the game crashes, and tells the developers, they can fix it.  Telling the entire world about it doesn't affect the developers fixing it; it just generates negative publicity for the game for no good reason--and that can make developers more hesitant to invite as many players in, resulting in a less tested product.

Players who complain that they were in a beta and the company didn't listen to feedback often don't realize that they're giving the wrong kind of feedback entirely.  If you're in a beta and the game has lots of loading screens as you pass from one zone to the next and you say they should make it an instanced world, that's useless feedback.  That's a game decision that was baked into the cake years ago.  Developers mostly aren't looking to see if players agree with their game design decisions or not; in many cases, some players will and some won't.

If you find bugs and give enough detail that the bug is easily reproducible, and the developers don't fix any of your bugs, then maybe you've got more of a complaint.  But this needs to be clear bugs, not just disagreeing with game design decisions.

 I'm going to go ahead and repeat myself again. There's nothing to hide once the game opens to the public to test, regardless of NDA. While I know an employee should be held under an NDA contract that doesn't stop other companies from gaining access to their content once it's publicly released.

 

"Players who complain that they were in a beta and the company didn't listen to feedback often don't realize that they're giving the wrong kind of feedback entirely.  If you're in a beta and the game has lots of loading screens as you pass from one zone to the next and you say they should make it an instanced world, that's useless feedback.  That's a game decision that was baked into the cake years ago.  Developers mostly aren't looking to see if players agree with their game design decisions or not; in many cases, some players will and some won't." - You.

 A person who's only giving unconstructive feedback will only be ignored regardless of where it's posted. Lets just use the one you gave. If a tester notices a lot of zoning and states, "you should make the game instance." This comment is already passed it's usefulness and should easily be overlooked regardless of where it's publish. However, if you're testing a game or asking to give ideas for features of a game it's always best to post that information on the developers forums.

 

"Player NDAs aren't about ignoring criticism in general, but about restricting it to productive channels.  If a player notices that when you do such and such, the game crashes, and tells the developers, they can fix it.  Telling the entire world about it doesn't affect the developers fixing it; it just generates negative publicity for the game for no good reason--and that can make developers more hesitant to invite as many players in, resulting in a less tested product." - You.

This can be tied to media coverage regardless. A developer never wants bad publicity, however. This provides quite a bit of an incentive to fix the mistakes rather than hiding it behind closed doors until release. Then you end up with games like SWTOR and WAR for example which had terrible launches with unplayable classes and broken features. However, this could be avoid because it was getting bad press. But neither of these game had bad press before launch. The media only reported on the features at hand. Such as the marksman or smugler cover system that wasn't properly working. MMORPG.COM did an article on this little feature but no one told the public that it wasn't properly working. Or when you look at Warhammer Online and how classes such as the Bright Wizard and Sorc. were able to ignore walls and ceiling and cast their skills through them. Each of these issues were known for extended periods of time during the developement of these games but not fixed until weeks or months after their release.

 

 

"If the point of an NDA were to suppress important criticism, then how do you explain that the NDA is eventually lifted?  Criticism that would have been valid during the NDA period will still be made if it isn't fixed before the NDA ends." - You.

Isn't this why I questioned why should they have them to begin with? The negative criticism will get through regardless of an NDA.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Rednecksith

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 1272

Bite my fiery metal ass!

3/15/13 2:26:15 AM#20

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.

 

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