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The Game Testers Agreement, What You Need to Know

Welcome to one of the most important articles you will read about Star Wars: The Old Republic prior to the launch of the game. In this article I will spell out for you what you need to know about the Game Testers Agreement. You remember, that legally binding agreement you signed? It is common knowledge that most people won’t read it and will just hit accept. Well, if you are one of those people you better read this article otherwise you might be in for a rude awakening on what exactly you signed. I do still recommend you read the entire Agreement for yourself.

I know many of you will ask yourself “Why should I care?” That answer is quite simple, as already stated this is a legally binding agreement but it doesn’t stop there. This Agreement comes chock full of some very serious consequences that you will most certainly care about, such as you being banned permanently from TOR and yes I mean TOR not just Game Testing. Do I have your attention now? Good, continue reading to understand in basic terms what you can and cannot do.

(keep in mind that all of these quotes are taken directly from the Game Testers Agreement, in some cases they will be shortened to highlight the important information but no verbage will be changed)

If you do not agree to the terms of this Agreement, do not install or use the Game.

This is one of the most important lines of the Game Testers Agreement, read the Game Testers Agreement in its entirety and if for any reason you do not agree with any part of it, DO NO SIGN IT. You are completely and legally liable for everything in it, make sure you know what you are signing.

(A) You represent and warrant that you are eighteen (18) years of age or older . . . IF YOU ARE UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE, YOU MAY NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE GAME PROGRAM.

The need to be 18 or older to test a game goes back to the fact that you are signing a legal agreement which you obviously cannot do as a minor. I know that many of you reading this article are cringing right now and I also know many of you have lied about your age to attempt to get into game testing. This is not something to be taken lightly, you are breaking the law. I want you to imagine for a minute that you break one of the guidelines laid out in the Game Testers Agreement quite severely, to the point that BioWare brings legal action upon you. Do you want to have the conversation with your parents on why they are being sued because of your mistake? I know it sucks to not be able to have the chance to test this game but don’t get yourself into trouble just to try.

(D) BWA may, in its sole discretion, terminate the Game Program at any time.

This is very important since I know many players who are lucky enough to get into the Game Testing Program will complain about a fluctuation in the testing schedule, especially if they decide to have a lengthy shutdown of the service. Always remember that BioWare can do what they want with Game Testing whenever they want to and none of us have any grounds to say differently (complaining about Game Testing being down certainly won’t qualify as constructive feedback).

1.1 License Restrictions. You shall not:
a. Sublicense to, transfer, distribute or permit use of the Game Materials by, any third party;
b. Reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Game Materials;
c. Make copies of the Game Materials;
d. Export the Game Materials in violation of the export control laws of the United States of America and other countries;
e. Utilize the Game Materials to create other computer programs for any reason;
f. Share your Account with any third party.

Everything listed above should be fairly common sense, but read them carefully, especially this: “f. Share your Account with any third party.” We can all admit that this is one of the most common Game Testing Agreement breakers but understand that it is right here, clear as crystal, black and white, do NOT let your friends play on your account. Even if you manage to get away with letting your friend play your account you are putting yourself at additional risk since any information they share was done via your account and therefore you are completely liable for any wrongdoing.

Furthermore, you acknowledge and agree that your communications with other users or with BWA via chats, conferences, bulletin boards, and any other avenues of communication within the Game, Game Software and/or this Game Program are public and not private communications, and that you have no expectation of privacy concerning your use of the Game and/or Game Software (including, any character data or communication referenced in Section 5.3 below). You further acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to monitor any such content and communications. . . BWA will also monitor your computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) for unauthorized third party programs running concurrently with the Game (such as, for example, any software such as add-ons, mods, hacks, trainers or cheats that in BWA’s sole determination enables or facilitates cheating of any type) with software that will report back to BWA any unauthorized third party program, including the users name, IP address, MAC address, time and date and other details about such unauthorized program.

Anything you say in-game or even out of game on Game Testing forums, etc. can and will be monitored to see if there is anything going on that shouldn’t be. Remember that you have access to TOR and to the TOR Game Tester forums for the purpose of feedback and game testing, use them as such and remember that big brother BioWare is always watching…

1.5 Term of the Agreement. Your participation in the Game Program, and the grant of license herein, may be terminated by BWA at any time, for any reason or for no reason, in BWA’s sole and absolute discretion, by providing written or emailed notice to you. . .

This might be my favorite section of the entire Game Testing Agreement for one reason and one reason alone “for no reason”. That is right folks, BioWare can decide that they just feel like terminating your TOR Game Testing account and they are perfectly within their rights to do so. Now, I certainly would never expect them to do this but understand it is a possibility so don’t give them any extra reasons to do so.

ADDENDUM A
PERMITTED DISCLOSURES
1. The fact that there is a Game Program.
2. The fact that you are a member of the Game Program.

Ever wonder what you can talk about? The above list spells it out short and sweet. You can tell anyone you want that there is a TOR Game Testing Program and if you are lucky enough to get into it, you can brag that you are a member of it but the information sharing stops there.

. . . Nothing in this Section 4 shall be construed as preventing BWA from pursuing any and all remedies available to it, including the recovery of money damages from you.

Breaking the Game Testing Agreement can be a very serious problem for you, if you go above and beyond the norm and BioWare really feels you did damage to them they can in fact come after you for monetary compensation as shown here “including the recovery of money damages from you.” . If leaking videos, screenshots, and information was the joke, I am curious how funny the punchline of “congrats, your being sued” is?

5.4 Test Environment. You acknowledge that the Game Materials will run in a test environment, that game characters, character data, or any other value or status indicators that you achieve through game play as part of the Game Program may be erased or modified at BWA’s sole discretion at any time, and that such data shall likely not be exported into the Game once the Game is commercially released.

You need to understand that you are in nothing more than a test version of the game and that all of the time you put into your character will be lost. In fact, not only will it be lost once, but it is very likely it will be lost multiple times over the course of the different testing phases.

6.1 It is understood and agreed to that as part of the Game Program, you are expected to suggest changes, improvements, additions to the Game as well as to provide analysis of the Game and its features and that any such material provided to BWA in any form whatsoever, including but not limited to email, text messages on message boards and/or oral become the sole property of BWA and/or its licensors. . .

6.2 It is understood and agreed that, as part of your participation in the Game Program, it is your responsibility to report all known bugs, abuse of ‘bugs’, ‘undocumented features’ or other defects and problems related to the Game and Game Software to BWA as soon as they are found (“Bugs”). If you know about a Bug or have heard about a Bug and fail to report the Bug to BWA, we reserve the right to treat you no differently from someone who abuses the Bug. You acknowledge that BWA reserve the right to lock anyone caught abusing a Bug out of all BWA products.

Everyone who listens to the show (you do listen to the show right?) has heard my rant about how people tend to treat Game Testing as if it is nothing more than a game demo released for their pleasure. Read the two sections I have quoted above and understand exactly what your purpose is. BioWare is looking for you to not only find bugs within the game but to make suggestions and offer feedback to make their game the best it can be. You are being given the opportunity to help shape the TOR world, enjoy it!

You will also notice as part of this Agreement if you know of a bug within the game and you do not report it as such, you will be treated as someone who is abusing it. That means you are now in violation of the Game Testers Agreement and can be removed. I point this out as another reminder that your sole purpose is to test the game and report problems.

7.1 Survival. The provisions of Sections 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 7, 8 and 9 shall continue in full force and effect even after (a) the Game Program has been terminated or completed and/or (b) your participation in the Game Program has been terminated.

You would need to read the specifics in the NDA but the point of this section is very simple. If for any reason you are no longer in Game Testing, you are still 100% liable to the Game Testers Agreement. Meaning if you get kicked out and you attempt to leak information you are still completely screwing yourself.

9 In the event that you violate any of the terms set forth in this Agreement or in the Game Program Code Rules of Conduct as embodied in Addendum C, you hereby acknowledge that BWA, in its sole discretion, may remove your access to the Game Program, and bar you from accessing the commercially released version of the Game, as well as subject you to any legal remedies that BWA may take.

I have already covered a few times the repercussions of breaking the NDA but this is by far the one you will care about most. Not only can BioWare remove you from Game Testing. Not only can they sue you. They can actually ban you entirely from ever playing TOR. So any time you consider breaking the Game Testers Agreement ask yourself this question “Is what I am about to share worth the possibility that I might never play this game again.” I guarantee you that the answer is no.

Questions? Comments? Discuss it all here!

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