Oh what a great post, Simon! Thank you very much for this! Yes, I'm little paranoid I guess. I would have two more additional questions, though.
1) How many betatesters do you actually have? And how much of them are "strangers"?
2) What are your instructions to beta testers? Like what exactly do you tell them that you want from them? "Look for technical bugs?".. "What do you think about the story?"... "Would you improve any puzzles in my game?".. something like that?
there is more risk with not sharing your game than sharing it!
At first, I had this idea, that only I would play the game. I would not have a single one betatester. Not even a family member, best friend, girlfriend.. not a single person would play it, except me! I would just take the full risk. Well it is not realtime strategy, it is an adventure game, so what can go wrong?
How crazy is that idea?
But still, there is something romantic about that, isn't it? Absolutely no influence from others, you would just make the whole game on yourself, not a single person would play it before the realising.. and what a thrill would it be when the first customer buys your game
... but it would probably turn out to be a huge disaster.. especially these little technical bugs, you can't catch all of them on yourself, can you? Even if you played the game hundred times I guess.. What a silly idea..
But still, the thing is that I'm 100% sure of what I want. I have very clear and strong vision of my game. So even if 10 of 10 beta testers would say to me "Dude, you shoud change this puzzle, it's really stupid" I would listen but I wouldn't change it. So I only need testers for finding the technical bugs, really. And in some way I would feel bad that I would make use of them because I would give them false opportunity that they can participate into game, to make some suggestion to the design, but the true would be that they can't because I only need them for catching the technical bugs. To be honest, I wouldn't even care of what they think about the story or art. And I'm not sure this is ethically the right thing to do, you know, just to make use of them..