when to drop the NDA?

Massively wrap up their week of warhammer coverage with an editorial on concerns about warhammer (summary: they really liked what they saw but wonder how ready the rest of the game is and when it will be released). Unsurprisingly, there is lively discussion in the comments. And finally a wrap-up which is basically a set of links to all the previous articles.

At this point, there are a lot of beta testers out there who could answer some of those questions. So what is the point of a Non-Disclosure Agreement and when should Mythic drop it?

The non-disclosure simply means that you agree not to talk about something, in this case the software that you are testing. Usually these agreements are in place to protect trade secrets. But the main reason for enforcing an NDA is so that the company can control how their official information is disseminated. They choose who, where, how, when, and how much they want to release. They can craft a carefully planned PR strategy.

So as well as being able to officially support the community, they also can limit the amount of frothing rants about minor gameplay or graphical issues that won’t be in the release anyway.

As soon as the NDA is dropped, anything could happen with the game’s media presence. It’s a risk. On one hand, it may be that lots and lots of happy beta testers will excitedly build up good word of mouth based on what they are seeing right now. On the other hand, it could be a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

Now I haven’t seen the beta so I have no idea what kind of state it is in at the moment. But one thing I do know is that Blizzard took that risk and ran their beta for WoW with no NDA, and we know how well the word of mouth worked for them. I wonder if very soon Mythic will do the same. After all these articles, is there really much new left to reveal other than …. how soon will it be ready?

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6 Responses

  1. AoC still has an NDA on the closed beta as far as I know…

  2. Didn’t they drop the NDA on the first 13 levels but leave it on the rest of the beta (I thought that was a bit telling actually)? Something like that? I wasn’t following it all that closely.

  3. that’s so weird if they did that. heh.

  4. I know that a week or two after release the closed beta with NDA was still running because there was so many ongoing changes that needed testing, and I assume that nothing has changed. I guess the closed beta has now morphed into the test server for updates, which is fair enough.

    The open beta was completely separate from the closed beta, and that was the one that was level limited. The first 20 levels are by far the most polished in AoC, so it’s pretty obvious why Funcom put the limit in place.

  5. If a game isn’t confident enough to drop their NDA, then I hold reservations against the quality. Apparently 400k+ others don’t! 😛

  6. […] Book of Grudges wonders: when to drop the NDA? […]

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