Paid to test computer games?
Dave, I have found a web site that offers to get me a job of testing computer games for money if I register at their web site for $35. it requires a credit card number. How can I tell if something like this is a fraud?
I have to say that I'm highly, no, highly skeptical of any offer like this. My experience as a professional reviewer is that if a legitimate organization wants to offer me the chance to get involved, they'd be more interested in reading a few sample reviews I've written than in any sort of money changing hands.
However, it might be legitimate. Here's how I'd tell: go and look for a list of game companies that this firm theoretically works with then call one of the firms up and ask if they do in fact work with the company. If they do, you'll know all is good, but if they don't, well, you'll know that it's a fraud and they'll promptly be in hot water with the game company that they're falsely representing a relationship with...
So that's the reviewing side of things -- as a lot of these deals that i've seen are seemingly for reviewers -- but let's talk about the testing side too, since that's your direct question. :-)
In terms of game testing, most testing for a product is either done in-house or directly under contract with the game company, so, again, if you have reason to believe that this firm might not be legitimate, ask for the name of a company they work with, then call up that game developer and ask what's what.
One possibility: the game companies might have a free beta testing program (Microsoft, for example, does that sometimes) and this intermediate company is making a quick $35/person to forward along your application that you could have submitted directly to the developer for free.
Worse, it could be a credit card harvesting scam too, where they have nothing to do with any game companies, and you apply, get hit for a $35 charge, get your credit card into a fraud ring, and never actually see any benefit or games at all. Yech!
In all cases, be wary and do a little bit of investigation first!
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