Some days ago, Valve employee BurtonJ posted this public announcement on the Steam User Forums:
We’re looking for folks to come to Valve and playtest both released and unreleased versions of our games as well as play around with some of our hardware prototypes. If you have interest in stopping by (most sessions last around an hour), please fill out the survey below. We’re looking for people local to the Seattle/Bellevue area, but you’re welcome to fill out the survey no matter where you live as we may have plans for remote playtests in the future.
Thanks for your interest in helping us make better products!
Click here to take the Playtester survey.
We are looking to add international support in the future. For now though, playtesting will be US only.
The announcement will only be active until the 18th of October, so I’m guessing that the survey will close around that date. In that case, if you think you can manage a trip to Valve HQ in Bellevue some time around or after the 18th… then I would definitely advise you to fill this in. But aside from that, I have literally no idea how this works exactly. I can only assume that if Valve will directly contact those who are accepted through the survey, and they’ll help them make all the necessary arrangements.
What I find extremely interesting is the possibility of remote playtests in the future. I think such a wide playtesting program (which would ideally be limited in both its schedule and its distribution) could definitely be very fruitful for Valve themselves. Sure, there’re some risks involved, but so long as they select testers with care, nothing bad can happen. Besides, I’m pretty sure they’re not exactly strangers to the idea of remote community playtesting, what with the Dota 2 beta, which was initially only available to professional Dota players for quite some time; as well as the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative’s beta, which was similarly restricted all throughout late 2011 and early 2012. So it’s very much feasible!
In any case, I am looking forward to hearing more about how these playtesting sessions go. The mention of “unreleased versions of our games” is rather tantalizing, but I’m fairly certain it’ll probably be nothing more than a Linux port or two, and maybe upcoming DLC for TF2, CS:GO, Dota 2, and L4D2. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if all testers have to sign non-disclosure agreements (especially if they’re going to be handling some of those hardware prototypes)… in which case, we’ll have to draw our own conclusions!