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We're working on an Android game (a port) for a professional game studio. We have internal QA who've done a great job testing the app on multiple devices but we'd still like to expand feedback more before releasing (Android's device landscape is HUGE.)

I'm trying to find out what tools/information there is on setting up a private beta? The things we're looking for:

  1. Send users a link via email to a site where they can download/install the app.
  2. When users are sent to the site they enter a key via email, agree to terms, & receive the download link.
  3. The site should prompt each user for specs on their testing device & environment.
  4. After the user runs the app for a while the app reminds them to report their findings back to the site (so it needs a direct link to the feedback page.)
  5. On return to the site the user fills out a survey of questions for feedback on the experience.

Can anyone offer suggestions for tools/packages that meet these criteria? (Free or Commercial, doesn't matter.) Has anyone done this before and have insight or suggestions they can pass along?

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5 Answers 5

If you want to build your own there is a screencast on how to do beta invites in Ruby on Rails here railscasts.com/episodes/124-beta-invitations.

You might be able to adapt that solution to fit your needs.

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I found this site which does pretty much most of what we needed and seems to fit the bill nicely, at least for distribution of the app.

http://www.airdrop.me/

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I would keep things as simple as you can.

When you're a very large game company, it's hard to keep your games under wraps, and you'll end up with millions of people trying to get into your betas. When you're a typical, run of the mill company, you probably don't have that problem (even if you wish you did!)

I would make the 'private' beta completely open and let it spread by word of mouth. Send it out to a few interested people, and if someone stumbles across it, let them in. You can always put stricter controls on the beta later if you find it's getting over populated or draining your resources more than expected.

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Although I don't have the first clue about provisioning Android apps, it sounds as though all that you really need is a couple of hidden pages on your existing site, or a new one just for this and a database table to store the info.

We've done similar things in my company. We'd have our developers make a couple of hidden pages and a new database table that could be linked to their primary account. After this, we'd send them an email with a special code (only so many pre-generated codes were made available to us) that was loaded from a seperate database (was easier this way, don't remember why). We'd then store the code with the second table which could be linked to the primary account. I think that the only reason why we did the seperate tables/databases was for simplicity sake. In our case, we only needed the info for a year and were then able to do a dump for auditing's sake.

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To be honest, this is not something I've ever done from the professional side.

However, from a user side here's a suggestion that I get from World of Warcraft by Blizzard. When I log into my WoW app on my machine, there's a "splash" screen that comes up before I get to my main account login that gives different news feeds, articles, ads, etc., related to WoW and Blizzard stuff.

Right now, WoW patch 4.2 is in Player Testing. I know this because it's on that splash screen. How do I get to player testing? If I click on the link on the splash, it takes me to the page where I can register for play testing and login.

So, for your situation, it sounds like the game you are porting over already has a following in another environment. Something you might want to consider is partnering with the game studio and putting some sort of splash screen, advertisement, or something in the other platform to let those users know that there is a Beta site available and give them a link to register their interest. You can then filter through the applications to find specific users and such and then e-mail out to them how to get to the app.

The big advantage I see to this is that you will already have a bunch of users who know how the game is SUPPOSED to work on the other platform so they have a frame of reference to apply to the Android environment for comparison. They are probably also accomplished players so they will be able to play the game to it's fullest and hit all those little corners, etc.

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