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I want to open my game for public feedback and testing quite early as such certain features like steams coming soon might not be available.

How could I protect my game against being pirated around from testing?

Even if we dis-regard piracy I'd not want the testers running random copies of the game whenever etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It would help to know a bit more about your game, like whether it's played online, multiplayer or solo, how you're selecting testers and distributing the game to them, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Aug 2 '18 at 0:07
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Why worry about piracy at all in this case? If it is a beta version, then it will give players an idea how the finished game is going to look and play, but it would be buggy and incomplete. The game experience will be suboptimal, and the player will understand that this is because they are playing an incomplete version of the game. If they like the game, then they will want to buy the complete version so they can experience it as intended. A leak of an early beta version might in fact be free advertisement which ends up giving you more sales than it prevents.

But if you are really worried about this for some reason, for example because your beta is actually an almost complete release candidate, there are some things you can do.

  • Charge people for beta testing your game. Call it "Early Access". Take the same anti piracy precautions you would take for the actual game.
  • Ask your lawyer to write you a non-disclosure agreement which allows you to sue your beta testers when they leak the beta. Ask your beta testers for their real names and home addresses. Send them the agreement by snail-mail, ask them to sign it and mail it back to you. Having a signature on a physical document doesn't just make it feel more real, it also ensures that you know the real identities of your beta testers. Then give each tester a built of the game with a hidden personalized watermark, so you can tell it was them when it ends up on pirate bay (or at least tell them you did that).
  • Rely on the DRM features of your distribution platform. The Apple app store, for example, offers the Test Flight program which allows you to run closed beta tests for unpublished apps. You can also run closed beta tests on Steam. Other distribution platforms offer similar services. And as a side-effect, you also earn some first-hand experience with your distribution platform. This experience will be very valuable on launch day.
  • If you have access to physical office space, only allow people to test the release candidate on premise.

I'm looking forward to testing your game.

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What I have seen many developers doing lately is to distribute early-access games on itch.io that don't make the full game available. Kind of like a demo but you can include and structure your builds however you want to get player feedback. Usually the home screen of the game indicates that it is an unfinished, early-access build. That way even if somebody distributes the test build, it's only a small part of the game. Then, when the game is complete, I've seen some developers remove the game from itch.io in preparation for a steam release. Steam currently offers some measure of DRM options that itch does not, but that could change.

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In case of single-player game: beta version can be a demo (shor) version of game.

In case of multiplayer game: limit amount of users and wipe instance after release.

Possibly "A non-disclosure agreement (NDA)" that If your testers can sign it.

About Ideas and conceps - Sadly there is no options. The only thing you can do - is finish game and release.

You can host some parts of game (resources or data) on some server. This server can also collect information about running game instances, crashes, and so on. And game simply not working without connection to this server. So when yout test period ends - shutdown your server.

It may save you from most common cases of piracy.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Alexandre's comment is on point, i was referring to practical measures such as DRM etc \$\endgroup\$ – Allahjane Aug 2 '18 at 2:49

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