The lights are on
Beta tests draw a great deal of excitement, even in an era where they are more accessible to the average gamer. Of course, casting a wider net means that developers have to trust more players to honor their commitments.
If one or more carefully selected game testers decide to break their non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), developers have a couple of choices. Most opt to sweep the offending material (screenshots and video most often) under the rug as quickly as possible. Unpolished media can tarnish the game's image, especially later on if viewers aren't clear that the footage in question is from a pre-release build.
Others, like Wildstar developers Carbine, have opted to level the playing field by taking their leak public. Rather than simply obliterate all mention of recently leaked patch notes that were never intended for public consumption, the studio has posted them for all to see.
Producer Troy Hewitt had this to say to the community:
Now, to my point: The beta patch notes for WildStar were leaked by a current beta tester. Our core fansite supporters have, out of respect for Carbine, opted not to share that leaked information, knowing it was a violation of our mutual trust.
So with a mind towards fairness to those people who have maintained that trust, we're taking the leak public in an official capacity. No, we won't be doing this every time. Yes, we want to remove the person/s who leaked this information from beta. Yes, we want to avoid future leaks.
Yes, we want to openly discuss areas of our game that require critical feedback. We'd just like to do it on our terms.
In the end, this is about trust and respect. We trust and respect our community, and refuse to let this particular bad apple spoil this entire bunch.
The Wildstar beta test is ongoing, and it seems there is going to be at least one spot opening up. The soon-to-booted player should count him or herself lucky. Getting evicted from a game isn't nearly as bad as being sued by NCSoft.
If you are interested in Wildstar, the patch notes are available (legitimately) on the official website. You can also listen to an episode of Respec Radio featuring two of the minds behind the upcoming MMO.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.