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Are Early Access Games Ruining Industry?
BMedcom  posted on Sep 28, 2014 10:14:25 AM - Report post

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I am on the fence on this issue. Some of the games I purchased on early access were great. Like ARMA 3. I love it and they continue to improve it. Others I have felt down right lied to, and feel a refund would have been nice. I have purchased two or three early access games that were never completed, nor given any updates or reasons why. I believe if Steam is offering early access games, they should refund you if the game never gets released. It is like you are paying them to Beta and sometimes Alpha test their product. Just my two cents.

[Edited by BMedcom, 9/28/2014 10:15:58 AM]

XWolf  posted on Sep 28, 2014 12:39:09 PM - Report post

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I'm a person that spends time looking over the game, and the forums, and youtube; before I consider purchasing anything. The price also, a $5-10 E/A game really doesn't worry me if it looks like something I might enjoy.

Prison Architect is $30, was a bit cheaper when I bought it, but it's been in E/A forever it seems. I play the game all the time and always like the updates.

Windborne, a game that went on E/A just this year and is in my opinion a terrific game. Ya they're going to add more features, and yes they've got a ways to go but I paid full price and since I got it haven't touched minecraft because I like this so much better. They haven't even added in a Survival type mode yet.

I understand about the trainer issues, I've seen many E/A games get trainers, PA being one of them. Since it only updates once a month and not 3 times a week it makes sense.

Windborne I can't even find mention of on the forums here, but the updates are pretty spread out and since it can be played SP and currently doesn't have a creative mode I've been using cheat engine for my builds.

It's really a case by case basis and yes there have been horrible, horrible failures, but people need to get over the stigma and go about it a smart way. Just my 2₵.

DABhand  posted on Sep 28, 2014 10:50:23 PM - Report post

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PA is of course done by one british guy, and he is a talented programmer, and he has done class titles in the past - Uplink, Darwinia and Multiwinia. So people knew I think they would get a game that would be constantly updated and worked on.

Some titles never do rise to what people expected, but that isn't unique in the industry, even AAA titles never rise to the occasion.

People just seem to be veering away from the fact it is nothing unlike pre-ordering.. just with an added bonus.

But the current generations are mostly self entitled in their mindset, and expect everything the way they want it, and nobody elses opinion counts.

So if it isn't there when they want it, it becomes a "OMG rant rant rant" type situation, because they don't realize they don't own the game or own the way it is shaped.

lucious20042002  posted on Sep 29, 2014 4:26:54 AM - Report post

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Well that was a good read, my personal view point is that, developers seemingly either don't know or don't understand which way the PC gaming platform is going, the sad fact is technology innovation is out running software innovation, which basically leads to developers having more toys to play round with than they have ideas.

This is nothing new to pc gamers and dev's though, the pc has always struggled in terms of what is viable and what isn't as you may start a project today and by the time the development cycle is completed half of your new shiny features are old news, one reason consoles have always been more of a focus, because consoles have a set non variable selection of hardware that very rarely changes, where as pc's you must take into account many thousands of configurations. One reason i always laugh when people complain about a dev not testing enough etc, sometimes it comes down to what is practical, in order for any pc game to run on every combination of hardware they would have to test the beta on ever single persons computer...

Which now brings me to these early access games, while as stated in the review there are pro's to this, there are also serious limitations, for one thing some time devs don't have either the knowledge or manpower to back up submitted bug reports, so while some of these 2 man indie companies say they can make a game, which they probably can, there knowledge of hardware may be somewhat lacking which then causes problems down the line when trying to iron out bugs. Good example of that is Dayz, there team listens but they have not got a clue what to do with the information.

This links in with another issue of post release optimization, a game that supposedly leaves is dev cycle and becomes release version which is then optimized on a very limited hardware spectrum.

The idea of paying for early access in my opinion is absurd, i think they only model which can work is releasing these early access as demos, if we take money as being the motivation behind making a game and lets be honest anyone who says they make a game just for pure passion is lying, they once you have X amount of money where is the motivation ?

That my friends is the fundamental flaw with the early access idea, once the cash is there, there is no longer an incentive to keep up the work and quality.

Sadly many people do not think like this and worse yet many more will gladly pay for a broken game and complain only when its far to late, the only way we the gamers can change this is to collectively boycot such endeavours, to teach the pc gaming development community that it is wrong pure and simple to ask for any money up front before a game is completed.

All in all a terrible idea, terrible motivation and not to mention to those devs who have been successful you gotta take a look at the big picture, a lot of these folks have been under tremendous pressure one reason the guy who made minecraft sold up and got out, it was just to much....

So with all that in mind i say bring back the 90's formula the golden age of development, testing, Q&A further testing and quality releases.

I'd rather wait 3 years for a game to be as polished as can be than 2 months for a piece of crap.

Neo7  posted on Sep 29, 2014 7:43:50 AM - Report post

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Another issue I see is related to patching. The game Starport Gemini 2 has left Early Access status into a full game status. I believe they are now at the 2nd version of patch 1.0002 (and giving 0x90 quite a headache). The fact that they needed a do over on a smaller patch is not a good sign.

Developers need to be branching and exercising greater control over what goes into a release branch. By definition, a release like that should be stable and the only patches going to it are ones that are game breaking (either a critical bug causing the game to crash or a severe balancing issue where players cannot progress). If you still need multiple patches with those rules, you have some serious scoping issues that need to be resolved.

Wanting to continue development is fine and all but branching allows releases to be stable while the trunk can continue to be updated and developed on without the need for 3 million patches to be delivered. You don't see Blizzard patching games for every error they see that can potentially cause issues.

Oh and speaking of a take 2 on a single patch: Always smoke test before publishing. If you're going the cheapo route of no formal QA, smoke testing is all you got.

Software cycle and best practices. It's delicious and you want it.

[Edited by Neo7, 9/29/2014 7:44:49 AM]

Bohauo  posted on Oct 01, 2014 7:09:59 AM - Report post

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Well i have only bought "Prison Arcitect" from Introversion, and they have so far updated the game with new content once every month, and they are now doing there 2:nd "bugbash".

So i think that the "Early Access" works great with them, and also with "Kerbal"

I think that Dev. should have a "update" schedul to follow in "Early Access/aplpha" stage, then the followers have something to expect at a regular cykcel, then perhaps show what's new in that update via text/pictures or video

I think that how Introversion handels Early Access with Prison Arcitect is a "right way", they show me every month what they have done (via video/youtube), they also taking help from followers in the Dev. stage (what to add next, what does we want)

cmind  posted on Oct 03, 2014 3:59:26 PM - Report post

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I have a mixed view of this one. Two of my favorite PC games in recent years were both only made possible due to kickstarter (Wasteland 2 and Divinity original sin). I did not back them because i did not even know about kickstarter during the pledge phase. That being said, I would have felt comfortable backing them because A) Larian Studios has been around for a while and has had success before with the divinity series and B) Inxile entertainment has industry veterans and of course the Wasteland was a success with it's fan base having a high desire for a sequel. That being said, I try not to go overboard with pledge, the most I have done is 87usd for after reset. Of course there are industry veterans who give people the shaft.

Recently, I was tempted to back Pantheon Rise of the Fallen which is headed by MMO veteran/designer of Vanguard and Everquest 1, Brad Mcquaid. While the kickstarter never reached their intended goal, I had heard that he took an ADVANCE on his pay for 6 months. It seems like a ludicrous thing to do, but then after reading online I read that he has had bad drug habits in the past and the two could be linked. Thankfully, I never pledged to them directly.

The most important thing though is to say to yourself, is this a game that I would love to play and am willing to perhaps risk a bit of money in the case that it doesn't meet expectations? For the games I have backed, i answered yes.

On a side note, a neat project that i found on kickstarter has amazing concept art, cool sounding backstory, and classic turn base RPG mechanics, take a look
Of course im not saying that it will end up being a great game but for 17 dollars i feel good about possibly helping to create a game I would enjoy. *sorry for wall of text

Evmeister88  posted on Oct 05, 2014 3:24:52 PM - Report post

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I think Early Access can be a very good thing. There are titles out there that have started to prove themselves. It's really up to how passionate you are to play that game before it's released. I usually wait until the Early Access has been out for a little bit and has has an update or two. Then I check the reviews and weigh how badly I want that game over all the other games that I have to play already.

I've backed three games from Kickstarter. The Mandate, Rimworld, and Castle Story. Now I haven't played Castle Story at all, and the Mandate is still in development. However, Rimworld in my eyes has paid off tremendously and you can find yourself sinking quite a lot of time into the game.

The benefit I see with Early Access versus AAA development, is with the AAA you don't have any say. The game they make is decided by the Shareholders, the Publisher, and the developer. They can add or take away features at whim and you'll never hear about it or have any say. Those features that got cut could have made the game a hit. A good example is The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. The original concept of the game was amazing and would have been very entertaining but they completely changed the whole thing. Here's a good article by Polygon those course of events:


I will recognize and note though, that a lot of what happened to that game had to do with a studio changeups. However, the concept was, how do you kill an enemy you know nothing about. Because that's exactly what will happen when we make our first contact irl and they turn out to be hostile. Had the game been brought to Early Access, I think the game would have evolved into something truly magnificent. The direction and input of the community can be a beautiful and can help give shape to a great game if the developers are willing to listen.

These are my opinions and I could be misinformed. However I feel an Early Access game is only as strong as the community that forms around it. Rimworld though not a steam early access game, has adopted many features that modders have come up with and is thriving because of it.

Is Early Access ruining the game industry? I don't think so. I think the industry is in flux between the old ways of development and the new way. The PC game market is starting to overtake the console game market in revenue, however it might change with the release of new consoles. Nonetheless PC only accounts for a little over half the market. Which means Early Access is more likely to die out before there is permanent damage to the industry. However seeing how Sony has expressed interest in the Early Access, it can be a major game changer if devs get their early games on PC AND Playstation as then it will affect the console market as well.

[Edited by Evmeister88, 10/5/2014 3:51:26 PM]

[Edited by Evmeister88, 10/5/2014 3:52:57 PM]

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