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In the moderator election questions, badp's suggestion provoked an interesting train of thought. I'll provide a little backstory.

Dark Souls 3 was available to popular streamers well before the general worldwide release. There were download codes supplied by the publisher, Namco Bandai.

In the case of Dark Souls 3, the game had already been released in Japan. But it's not inconceivable in the future that this situation could arise with a game that hasn't been officially released anywhere. In that situation, should we consider streamers to have access to unreleased content? As such, any questions they asked about that game would be off topic until the game is released.

  • Like I said in chat, this isn't currently an issue, however it's something we'll face sometime again this year, probably. – Unionhawk Jun 2 '16 at 18:45
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    "The reason we close pre-release questions is that they are speculative. (That, and it causes weird corner cases once the question is no longer speculative...) If a "pre-release" question about a game can be asked and answered without speculation because an alpha/beta/early version exists, regardless of the number of people who are/could be in possession of said game, it should be left open. (Unless there's some other reason to close - bad questions are bad questions, regardless of topic/game)" from @agent86's answer. I feel like this problem has already been addressed. – Dragonrage Jun 2 '16 at 19:04
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This is is the kind of issue that is unproductive to discuss before the practical case arises, because the only way we can answer such a question without context is in the absolutes: basically "always" or "never". Indeed, this question is phrased as a yes or no question; from there, absolute policy follows.

We should allow ourselves to be nuanced by the specifics of the individual case when we have the luxury to do so and the situation arises only a few times in the history of our site. Case in point, this wasn't really an issue with DS3. When the issue does arise we can study the specifics and come to a reasonable conclusion. :)

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Maybe. It would kind of depend on the situation. Ultimately, what this comes down to is the existence of a closed release, and how closed is too closed. In general, our rule of thumb is if there exists a member of the general public that can access the game, then it's kosher, however, I don't think it's necessarily reasonable to argue that the gaming press are members of the general public. Although review copies do technically exist in the wild weeks before release for pretty much every game in existence, I don't think it's reasonable to call that a perfect loophole for every game ever.

I'm going to work through two recent examples: the Dark Souls 3 streamer release, and the Overwatch closed beta, which was not technically limited to streamers.

The Dark Souls 3 early release was available only to popular streamers. In general, when game companies give out copies like this to particular people in exchange for a review, or for free publicity, it is referred to as a press copy. And in this case, the release was limited to popular streamers only. In this particular case, I would say that questions about the game should wait until the game is released to the general public in any region. This is what happened anyway, so there wasn't really an issue.

The Overwatch closed beta, on the other hand, was different. That ran on a lottery system, where anyone who signed up was eligible to receive an invitation to the closed beta. It was not open only to a limited group (well, I guess it was open only to those who had a Battle.Net account, and indicated they were interested in being invited to the beta), so in this sense, that was open to the public, and questions should be allowed. Again, though, the game is released now, and to my knowledge, no questions were asked during the closed beta.

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    I created the tag the day the open beta started, so there weren't any questions for Overwatch prior to open beta. Though there were questions asked between the time open beta closed and the next one started. – Dragonrage Jun 2 '16 at 19:09
  • @Dragonrage That is an entirely different barrel of fish that hopefully won't come up again until Blizzard does another beta – Unionhawk Jun 2 '16 at 19:11
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    @Unionhawk Dark Souls 3 was available to Japan as well as streamers before the worldwide release, so DS3 questions should not have had to wait for the worldwide release because the general public in japan could get them. – GodEmperorDune Jun 2 '16 at 19:21

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