Is early access a good thing?

M76

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It has occurred to me that Early access might not be a very good thing if we want to play good and complete games. In fact it's possibly a very bad influence.

Nowadays many projects are kept in perpetual early access, and many never see a complete release, and gets abandoned by the developer long before it could be called a complete game. Even very successful early access games can suffer this fate like Ark.

And of course devs abandon it, why wouldn't they? People who are interested in a game and start playing during early access will loose interest by the time the game would get an official release. I mean who wouldn't get enough of a game in 1-2 years?

I wasn't too fond of early access before either, but now I think it's destructive to game development as a whole. It makes developers lazy, uncaring. They can just say "that's why it's early access" to every criticism. It's their get out of jail free card.

But the fact of the matter is that they're still charging you money for the game, they're charging you money for being a QA tester for them. It's a perfect scam. And they even release paid DLCs for early access games. That's crazy and it's wrong.

WTF do you mean do I want to buy a new seat cover option for my car that you haven't even put seats in yet?

And of course the most outrageous example of this is Star Citizen, who are just selling concepts of things that might one day get into a game, that might one day start looking like an actual game, and not a pre-alpha test build.

But it's not just about paid DLCs, even if they add content to it freely, it's problematic. I'm thinking of is Conan Exiles. They had a good concept, it could've been made into a great game, but they released it incomplete, with a lot of features missing. But now that it's out, they're more focused on putting more content in the game, and implementing small bugfixes, to keep the players happy, instead of focusing on actually finishing it.

Even I was so dumb that I purchased it, but after playing 20 minutes I realized how unpolished and how lacking it is, and ignored it since. And now I think the game might never get to the point where I'd even consider revisiting it.


On a side note however I'd still support crowdfunding. It's much better. It gives a chance to developers to make games without publisher backing, or a large investor. The only problem I see with crowdfunding is greed. They deliberately put the funding bar extremely low to make the campaign a success, instead of making it a realistic amount from which their game can actually be made. If they were honest they'd say to themselves "Well we couldn't drum up enough support to make the project feasible, Let's shelve it" Instead they grab the money that might only be 10% of what's needed spend it and hope for a miracle. That's retarded if you ask me.

What do you think?
 

dgz

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Personally, I am not going to pay for an unfinished game. Can't remember the name but there was a title that was priced at 80+ euro for an early access. Yeah, not going to happen unless the offer includes unscheduled daily blowjob sessions performed by their wives and sisters until they finish their game.

Valve's initiatives have always been about Valve doing less work. They don't give a shit, why should I?
 

Comixbooks

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Depends on the studio

It can generate hype along the way or the game will be dated after 3 years pass.

Grim Dawn is a good example where it payed off I think....
 

Skott

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For the average pc gamer, which most people are I believe, early access is not good. Mainly because early access means you are a alpha or beta tester for a game in development that may or may not ever make it to market plus the trend now is that the devs want you to pay for that privilege. For the select minority who loves the concept of the game in question plus enjoys being part of a game's development and enjoys finding bugs and such and watching a game slowly come together and doesn't mind paying to do so then its good. Each of us must decide which of these groups we fall into.
 

DrLobotomy

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Sadly, I don't even want to see or hear about a game until about 6 months after release. That is the only way to be semi sure the title is actually worth the purchase. With the only thing left is the game writing, graphics and gameplay to judge.

I don't want to fund and participate in pre-release project. To the contrary, I would expect to be paid for such interaction.

Early access also seems to lead to 'me too' games that are similar and take away some of the individuality of the title. I wouldn't want ANYONE seeing a project I was working on until it was ready for sale and actually on sale.
 

Krenum

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For me it depends on how much I like the Genre & how much I like the developer after research.
 

chenw

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Depends on the studio

It can generate hype along the way or the game will be dated after 3 years pass.

Grim Dawn is a good example where it payed off I think....
I bought Grim dawn during Early Access on the virtue that it was being discounted and the state of the game at the time would have warranted the price even if the game was immediately abandoned after you bought it.

That's how I usually judge Early Access by, if the game in Early Access has enough content to warrant the price tag right there and then, I'd say it's a good buy regardless of whether it'll finish or not.

I wouldn't buy $60 early access games on day 1 for example, usually.

However, with the current state of AAA games releasing buggy releases and huge day one patches, you could argue that Day 1 buys for these are, in a way, Early access game.
 

Atarax

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For me personally, I generally like early access. I've also had pretty good fortune with choosing which games to support.

Currently, I think Subnautica is an amazing example of how early access should be done. It's reasonably polished with little to few bugs, and it has reached the point of tweaking balance and adding content. This gives the result of it feeling more episodic than unfinished.

I feel that a lot of the hate towards early access is due more so to unrealistic expectations on the buyers end. On Steam, that big blue early access box usually has a pretty big disclaimer in it.

When it comes to me on whether or not to buy, it either has to be by a dev that I know/trust/love(just bought Oxygen Not Included by Klei), or I have to be so sold on the concept and design that I feel the need to support it(More of a crowdfunding outlook).

It also helps to keep in mind that certain genres of games benefit from early access, while others are more likely to flop badly.

Those are just some of my thoughts in my experience.
 

H-street

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I think as a consumer you just have to be smart.. some early access has been great

I think the big seller of early access was Minecraft.. in its "early access" time it was cheap - 10$ and it was a a very good state for what you paid 10$ for..

Astroneer is another good example, I did buy that one in early access but its in a good fun state right now..

with the above examples, its not like you are having a crappy experience with the story or anything like that (Kerbal space program, another good example)..


as usual though, you have to be a good consumer (you'd think with money on the line people would be a little choosier)
 

M76

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It's not about what project you support. It's the concept itself. It doesn't matter how good a project is. You risk burning yourself out on it before it's finished. And the devs know this therefore to prevent users burning out they focus on content creation instead of development. It seems self defeating to me.

If you want to finish a project as a developer early access is definitely not the way to go. If you want a constant income, and you have no artistic integrity, you don't care if the the project is ever finished or where does it end, then it's definitely a working business model.

Guess as long as there is flypaper there will be flies.
 

NoOther

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First it depends whether its Crowd Sourcing or not. If you are investing through crowd sourcing, I think you should receive early access no matter what. You are investing, you should be able to see the product you are investing in.

For non-crowd funding, I believe Early Access is really only good if you either don't have to pay for it, or can be given a refund if you decide not to keep the game.
 

Libertad

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I feel like it has given a lot of studios to release a game then dump all support within a short time frame. Plus the amount of early access survival games, PLEASE STOP
 

Bawjaws

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I'll be damned if I'm going to pay full price for an incomplete or even alpha release. I also think these EA games encourage unscrupulous devs to try and make a quick buck by selling access to a game that's never going to be finished. I especially have a problem with Steam being completely riddled with early access titles.
 

M76

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It depends on the game/genre. I don't think Early Access works for SP content, but for MP? Sure.
I guess it works for games where the process of playing is not just the means but the goal as well.
So you're not playing to complete or finish anything in it. The gameplay itself is it's own reward.

The only games where I found that to be the case were racing games. Actually the first early access game I know of is LFS which was released years before the phrase "Early Access" was even coined.
 

horrorshow

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In general, based on my experiences, I'm against Early Access.

Castle Story was a classic EA burn.

At the same time, Grim Dawn was a "needle in the haystack" typa deal.

Everspace has my attention but with a full release expected in the next couple of months, I'll just wait....
 

twonunpackmule

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I guess it works for games where the process of playing is not just the means but the goal as well.
So you're not playing to complete or finish anything in it. The gameplay itself is it's own reward.

The only games where I found that to be the case were racing games. Actually the first early access game I know of is LFS which was released years before the phrase "Early Access" was even coined.

Eh, I'd argue releasing something like Overwatch in Early Access isn't a bad thing. As the gameplay and balance is a moveable tentpole.
 

M76

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Eh, I'd argue releasing something like Overwatch in Early Access isn't a bad thing. As the gameplay and balance is a moveable tentpole.
Well I'm completely indifferent to moba type games. As far as I'm concerned they tie up resources that could be utilized to make proper games.

A few years ago I thought MMOs were bad, and then came moba, which is even more pointless. Gaming for me is about doing tasks against the computer / tackling computer controlled obstacles. Not waging war against raging 10 year olds in a virtual playhouse.

Yes, I have a very low opinion on this type of gaming.
 

leeleatherwood

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I have played some GREAT Early Access games and had alot of fun. (RUST and GRAV for instance)

But, eventually you get bored/tired of the game and move on, once the game "releases", rarely do I go back and play it again. Most people are the same way.


But, I can see how indie developers need to use funds from early access to finish development of the game, otherwise the game would never be released. I agree with this way of development up to a point.

Here are some common things I see happen to early access games:

1) Game is released in early access too early, and its not really playable or enjoyable, the sales don't equate to enough to finish the development of the game so its gets abandoned.

2) Game has much success in early access, its a great game. Developers are bankrolling cash and now want to add too many features, game is now in perpetual development because of feature creep, it never leaves early access. (RUST is a prime example of this)

3) Game is release in early access after the majority of development is complete. Early access is mainly designed as a bug testing phase shortly before main release.


Overall, I think early access is good for indie devs, it helps games get released that otherwise would not be able to be released in the first place. Yes, there will always be problems with early access, but even if it allows just 1 great game to be released a year, its a success.
 

rezerekted

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EA can mean good games for less money but some can mean you will never see a finished game. I have this one EA game and it is just a tech demo right now, not one update to it since I bought it. But that is the risk you take with EA.
 

twonunpackmule

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Well I'm completely indifferent to moba type games. As far as I'm concerned they tie up resources that could be utilized to make proper games.

A few years ago I thought MMOs were bad, and then came moba, which is even more pointless. Gaming for me is about doing tasks against the computer / tackling computer controlled obstacles. Not waging war against raging 10 year olds in a virtual playhouse.

Yes, I have a very low opinion on this type of gaming.

Eh, whether we like the genre or not doesn't take away from the fact that the type of release might be appropriate.
 

MavericK

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It can be, depending on how the developer handles it. It has also caused a lot of shitty, unfinished (and likely to never be finished) games to flood the market as well.

The main issue is that for many of these titles, there is no clear roadmap to determine when the game is "complete". Games that do have this roadmap tend to do better in Early Access because there is a clear line to determine when the game is content-complete. Otherwise, a game can come out in Early Access, the developer adds a couple more features and then just proclaims the game is "finished", which ends up pissing off the player base.

One game that really screwed the pooch with Early Access was Cube World. Great initial release with a lot of potential but the developer just...vanished. For like, 2+ years. Still no recent updates as far as I know.
 

Pringle

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One game that really screwed the pooch with Early Access was Cube World. Great initial release with a lot of potential but the developer just...vanished. For like, 2+ years. Still no recent updates as far as I know.

Another, slightly less shady example, would be DayZ.

I was originally a huge supporter of Early Access, until devs started taking more and more advantage of "Early" and never fully completing their game.
 

nvgrim

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Another, slightly less shady example, would be DayZ.

I was originally a huge supporter of Early Access, until devs started taking more and more advantage of "Early" and never fully completing their game.
Day Z was my first and last EA purchase. I will never buy another unfunushed game again, the arma mod was leaps better than what we currently have and the game will never be 100% because of the crappy engine they use. Ive received other early access games as gifts from friends that really wanted me to play with them and we would play for about 2 weeks and the game would be out of content. Thats the case with most EA games is that they are so shallow and the reason why they only ever get popular is because of twitch streamers. Look at battlegrounds, its the latest EA/Twitch streamer fodder and it does nothing different than what H1Z1:KOTH or the culling or any other one of these types of games have done. It will be dead in a month when all the big name streamers move onto the next game.
 

Poordevil

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I have never participated or bought into an early access game. The closest I have come is buying a game on release date. Day one release is the soonest I will get on board, even that is rare and
as often as not regretted. I would rather wait until after a game is out, has some decent street cred behind it, and been patched.
 

Skott

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Only time I ever did a early access, if you can call it that, was when World of Tanks was in beta. It was free however. I started in the early beta and am still playing although not as much as I used to. I'm starting to lose interest finally mainly due to how the game has progressed which is not to my liking. Right now I'm looking for a new main interest which I have yet to find. I'm much pickier than I used to be when it comes to games.
 

aureloiz

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To my mind, it'a good thing to see how is the game. You have a general preview, what is good or bad.. Have an early access whe you pre-command a game, it's different. Here, it's bad, it's totally abusive.
 

Eshelmen

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I agree that early access has been as of the last few years... Too much.

There are definitely great early access titles, but there are so few good ones IMHO that other developers are wishing to cash in on this formula.

This creates a very bland experience when this happens.

If there was a way to pay a monthly subscription with steam for all of these, say $20 a month unlimited access or something, I'd be more interested in the idea, but paying $20-$50 for each and every one is seriously not cool.

Day break studios are a prime example for taking advantage of early access in the wrong way. H1Z1 will never be considered a full release Imo. They're too focused on making their money now than focusing on completing it. This is happening all over and it's beyond absurd.

Good post.
 

MGCJerry

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Betteridge's law of headlines is one name for an adage that states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no." -wikipedia article

Anyway. "No" I don't think it is a good thing. To me it says "were broke, and need money to finish this so pay up suckers. Oh, and you get to test it too.". On that note though theres only two early access games I bought into. "Kerbal Space Program" & "Elite Dangerous" but at the time I bought into them, they were highly if not fully functional and could IMO survive on their own if the devs "quit".

However it *can* be a good thing, but as much as it could be a good thing it can be a terrible thing. Like anything else use in moderation.
 

zamardii12

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Is early access a good thing?

The short answer is depends. For people who are honest and forth-coming that just need help realizing their dreams and have realistic expectations then it's perfect. For people who want to charge people perpetually for a incomplete game and calling it Early Access as an excuse as to why the game doesn't run good or have much to offer (DayZ) then it's almost robbery in my opinion. Star Citizen is a valid example too even though it didn't go through Steam.

Early Access works if you are aware of a couple things; have respect and admiration for your audience because they are the ones supporting your endeavors. Be honest in your communication with your supporters no matter whether it's good or bad news. Have realistic expectations.

If a developer can do these things then that's great. The best Early Access game I ever supported and really the only one was Hotdogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades. Weekly YouTube updates on new features, along with a update on progress and teasers for the following week release. It made me excited for Fridays to see what new stuff would be added.
 

Monkey God

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Good for developers, in general, bad for consumers, in general. Just like pre-ordering.
 

J3RK

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This depends on the type of game, the developers, and probably a ton of other factors. I've only bought a couple of games in early access, and it was because I knew exactly how much of the game was complete, the developers had good feedback, and the WAY they were implementing the game made sense for EA. One example is Cross Code. When I bought it, they basically had a fully working engine, and some mostly completed discrete chunks of the game. As time went on, they added more areas, and more to the story, but it didn't make what I had already played obsolete. The pacing of the game (and the fact that I only play it a bit here and there) meant I never had to wait for that next chunk. It was there when I was ready to play it. There are a lot of reasons it works well for a game like this.

I can see it being ridiculous for some other types of games, and in fact kind of ruining the final game (or what would be the final game in a case where it doesn't get finished.)

Generally I'd much rather wait for a completed game, but I've seen EA work just fine. I think that's probably more rare than the cases where it doesn't work out though.
 
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