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Are you a little tired of seeing crappy Early Access 'Survival' games crop up on Steam? Me too. Let's chat about it by the fireside. Oh hold on, we need 5 sticks & a two pieces of kindling first.

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Early Access came to Steam in 2013, with promises of directly involving the Steam community in the development of unfinished games. At the time, it sounded like a dream come true: Gamers would get to support their favorite diamonds in the rough, and developers would get meaningful feedback direct from the source. Everybody wins!

Early Access Goldrush

Early Access gave the ultra popular mod DayZ a place to pitch its tent, and within hours, it was the top selling game on steam. Regardless of what anyone thinks about DayZ, it showed the potential of Early Access in a really exciting way. It was also significant because it brought an entirely new genre to the fore - 'The Survival Game'. As I understand them, survival games are basically immersion simulators. They offer to spawn the player in a sprawling, often barren landscape to fend for his or her self. Most of them incorporate some kind of crafting system, and include rudimentary PVE and/or PVP combat. The main appeal here is the sandbox nature of these games and the idea that you can live a second life in a world overrun by [Dinosaurs, Zombies, Crazed Forest Dwellers, insert AI threat here]. There is nothing inherently wrong with this concept, and on paper, it should make for some pretty exciting games.

Except they're all being released on Early Access. And most of them suck.

Early Access Goldrush
The original and start of the gold rush

The WarZ, or its re-branded incarnation - Infestation: Survivor Stories, is one of the worst offenders. Broken physics, buggy animations, a predatory micro-transaction system...the list goes on. 'WarZ/ISS' technically launched prior to the announcement of Early Access (a move its lead, Sergei Titov, shamelessly admitted was to try and beat DayZ onto Steam). Sadly, this cynical attitude may have paid off. At the very least, WarZ/ISS enjoyed a much greater degree of player attention than such a derivative cash grab ever deserved. Mr.Titov wasn't the only one who saw DayZ's success and got excited. It's as if light bulbs appeared over the head of every aspiring indie developer in the world, and inside this light bulb was a dollar sign, and the words 'Crafting, Survival, Open World'. 7 days to die, Rust, The Forest, Life is Feudal, H1Z1, theHunter, The Stomping Land, Beasts of Prey, Miscreated, Stranded Deep... There's a new one every month. The quality of these games varies greatly, as does their average customer review score, price, and theme. But they are all open world survival games which popped up one after another in the wake of DayZ, and like DayZ, they all topped the bestseller charts at one point or another. Coincidence? Possibly. Hype exploitation? Probably.

Early Access Goldrush
Cash grab

It hasn't all been roses for them, of course. Several among those were so blatantly buggy and broken that they were pulled off the storefront by Valve. Notably, 7 days to die was found to be using stolen art assets, and The Stomping Land's lead developer made a series of grandiose promises and then disappeared with a sizable chunk of cash, leaving the game in an obviously incomplete state. Even among the highest quality of these Early Access survival contenders, there have been questions raised about whether the developers will ever actually get around to implementing the ambitious features they have promised. And therein lies the problem: buying Early Access games is like betting on a horse. It may place first, or it may not even leave the gate.

"It's as if light bulbs appeared over the head of every aspiring indie developer in the world, and inside this light bulb was a dollar sign, and the words 'Crafting, Survival, Open World'"

Early Access games do have a disclaimer on their store page which states, in no uncertain terms that you are buying an unfinished product that is likely to change. The problem with this caveat is that many gamers will see it as a challenge, rather than a deterrent. The idea that you can buy into something before it's big and have a hand in shaping it, trumps any of our reservations about the potential quality (or lack thereof) of the game we're buying. I'm of the opinion that Valve knows that. At the very least, the developers of Early Access games do. In recent months the language has become even more explicit, to the effect of "YOU ARE BUYING A BROKEN GAME!!!1", and yet, dire warnings aside, these games still manage to smash the top sellers charts over and over. It's reverse psychology at its finest.

There have been a few cases of Early Access done right. Divinity: Original Sin arrived on Early Access in more than playable shape, and with a clear vision for the future. It spent its Early Access duration working out some kinks and finally released to great acclaim from both players and press. Insurgency was another Early Access success story which bided its time in Early Access and slowly improved by listening to its community. But here's the thing - these games are the exception, not the rule. To date, only 25% of games that enter Early Access actually find their way to a 'full' release.

Early Access Goldrush

Early Access can give developers a chance to fine tune their work without the pressure of a full release, which enables certain games to flourish. But that only works if the developers went into Early Access prepared to begin with. Many developers are taking the position that Early Access is a 'shield' which protects them from criticism, and allows them to toss broken alpha builds onto the store front with hefty price tags attached. As a developer who spent more than 4 years on each of the games I worked on before trying to sell them (disclaimer: I am the creator of Depth and Killing Floor), that really rubs me the wrong way. It's a lazy, short sighted attitude which asks gamers to gamble on a game concept, rather than the game itself. Even more frustrating is that it encourages copycat behavior among developers who would rather mimic the current fad, than commit to an original long-term IP. If your Early Access prototype flops? no harm no foul, right? Ditch it, and move on to the next 'big thing'.

"Many developers are taking the position that Early Access is a 'shield' which protects them from criticism, and allows them to toss broken alpha builds onto the store front with hefty price tags attached"

To Valve's credit, they have recently updated the Early Access terms of use to explicitly prohibit developers from asking consumers to pay now for 'future greatness', but I don't think this goes far enough. The process of getting your game into the Early Access program is still just as simple as typing some impressive sounding text explaining why you think your game would be a good fit for Early Access, and then waiting for a thumb's up. They don't seem to be especially interested in turning potential Early Access games down - and why would they? Early Access titles are making them a butt-load of cash.

Early Access Goldrush
Early Access done right

A much better system would be to have potential Early Access developers submit their latest build for play testing by Valve QA and base the approval on that, rather than a by the numbers process of matching a game's storefront information against a set of basic requirements. Playtesting would reveal some useful information. For example - Can your game run for 30 minutes without crashing? Do your characters animate? Is there some semblance of gameplay? Does the build in any way resemble the promises you made on your storefront? If not - no Early Access for you. In fact, no Steam release at all, is what I say. But this is all just wishful thinking - Valve has made no secret of their move away from curating the Steam store, and the steady influx of garbage through Early Access is just one symptom of that.

"If your Early Access prototype flops? no harm no foul, right? Ditch it, and move on to the next 'big thing'"

Early Access is a great idea, but in principle it has allowed a lot of lazy and greedy developers to get a bite of the apple that they are in no way entitled to. Developing a good game takes years of blood, sweat and tears. If you wouldn't pay the asking price for what you are releasing on Steam, then don't ask anyone else to. Oh, and if you find yourself trying to come up with a concept for your next game, and the pitch is "It's Like DayZ, but ...". Just don't. Stop what you're doing, take a few minutes, and go back to the drawing board.

You can do better.

Comments
SweetJuleka
SweetJuleka

Spot on AJ_Quick, I've always thought you had a bright mind.

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epeternally
epeternally

If developers want to be on early access, they should be required to produce extensive design documents and planned feature lists for their game to make it abundantly clear what their project is, as well as an expected timeframe, and be contractually obligated to deliver at least 90% of their planned features within double their planned timeframe (because let's face it, things rarely go according to plan). If you don't feel comfortable with those terms, you probably don't belong on Steam Early Access. There'd be a lot more incentive for developers not to cut and run, abandoning their projects and the people who purchased them, or release things in woefully incomplete states, if doing so meant facing a big fat lawsuit.

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AJ_Quick AuthorSubscriber
AJ_Quick

The problem with this approach is that there's really no way to go after the devs who cut and run. Sure you can threaten 'lawsuits', but for anyone who has been involved in legal proceedings, you will know ... that's not ideal. The best you can hope for is that both parties lose a bunch of time and money and achieve very little. Design documents and feature lists are nice, but they don't amount to much when your game is not even playable.

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Shadowuzi
Shadowuzi

Quite true. Frankly now these days people have to be more careful when committing money to something on Early access on Steam since what you said above. I've made a few bets myself on a few early access games on Steam and so far I'm lucky that all of them bets have are quite good games still and the developers are still working on them. The developers who cut and run when releasing a crappy project just only get a bad rating and profit from their unfinished product and are free to pull off the same thing again. Lawsuits are just messy these days so developers who pull this crap tactic don't have to fear much unless karma is real and decides to be a bitch to them.

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TheManWhoFlewAway

The number one rule about design documents is they are almost always a list of what your game will not be by the end of the development process. Developers need the freedom to deviate from feature lists and empty descriptions about how "awesome" their game will be.

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Guest
Guest

Then stop allowing early access in general. I am tired of seeing these early access games.. all it is, is another way to make money then when they expect you to finish there is nothing that says they have to finish it.. its why I've never bough one unless its was 3$ or gifted

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Dune_Jumper
Dune_Jumper

Early Access is one of the biggest disasters I've ever seen in gaming. I only know of like 3 Early Access games that have finished and turned out good.

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INtense! Staff
INtense!

I believe if early access was heavily curated it would be amazing. But right now it is been abused to get clones or poorly made games into the store which are there as a quick cash grab and nothing more.

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TheUnbeholden
TheUnbeholden

Yeah, Games that use basically free content that you can find on the internet, cobbled together, sometimes even with some bad Paint.pro/photoshopping done on borrowed textures, public domain content and slap it into a accessible free engine. The problem with this is quite obvious, not all content on these free to use sites are actually "free", but come with conditions. For instance content that can only be used non-commercially purposes, or that is under Attribution or NoDerivitative terms in Creative Commons that require crediting or no editing if the content is to be released publicly any format. This I think is a pretty big issue because copyright is serious and mostly an objective test that steam the sleeping giant can come down on hard. I personally find that Early Access games are a little expensive based on their value (amount of content) but I guess that is subjective.

The sheer volume of stuff crowding the steam website is quite horrendous, but I think they've done a good job at keeping the front page clean of the junk titles & separate the junk from the good quality content through 2 different search functions, Popular New Releases and All New Releases (eventhough you still can't search based on the original release date of the game, only through its "steam release date" which I don't really care about as anyone can just push out their backlog onto steam aslong as they have a recognized publisher backing them).

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SweetJuleka
SweetJuleka

I hate how nearly every single Early Access game is a Survival Game, Survival Games are becoming the new COD's, though there are a few good ones such as The Forest & The Long Dark.

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frenchiveruti
frenchiveruti

IMO, and only as a fast post comment, the "Early access system" shouldn't charge the buyer with a full price for the game, lets think it as a share company, when the company isn't popular, and doesn't have much to offer (alpha) the shares probably are valued at a 25% of the full price, in beta, the buyers should pay for 50% ~ 75% of full price, and so on, this way, devs should finish their games in time, and don't play around with bugs and "bad reviews", if they want to get the full money from the purchases of course.

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micromil
micromil

Sadly this is, in theory, already the way it works. Starbound and Rust sold millions of dollars worth in days of their release. So it is still pretty lucrative, they don't really need to finish the games if they didn't want to they have the cash.

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frenchiveruti
frenchiveruti

Yeah, so this leads to the second part of my idea, but of course is just a wild idea in my head, and should involve a total force from steam to hold the shares from the devs until they deliver the final product to the users.
Also, your examples are from totally worth of trust developers, both Rust and Starbound have in their teams developers from great sold games that still today get updates and new content from time to time, both Garrry's mod and Terraria have made themselves the trust needed for the consumers to buy and sell "millions" of dollars.
But games like WarZ, with a system like i said in my other comment, wouldn't have stolen so much money from consumers.

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micromil
micromil

People complain about AAA companies releasing broken games then throw stupid amounts of money at Early Access... ???!!!

In it's current state Early Access is too risky. Unless you love the game "AS IS" then it is not worth buying.

It would be great if steam held 50-75% of the money from the sale of the Early Access title in trust for the completion of the game, and the game could only be "released" if they achieved their original promises, or out did them with better ideas based on the feedback of the community. Then they would get some money to develop and have a huge incentive to finish it properly. Also steam would get a heap of interest in it's holding account.
The only problem is that this would require a lot of administering, something that steam seems to be trying to reduce.

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frenchiveruti
frenchiveruti

Yeah, the EA idea was indeed an idea to have less trouble in game aproval, but the developers started with the "vote for my game and get a free game key" ****, for games that wasn't even worth in steam library.

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Jetcutter

I'm glad to see this article.
I am guilty as charged for rushing into some of these.
ISS is the largest offender of this genre imho.

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TheManWhoFlewAway

"If you wouldn't pay the asking price for what you are releasing on Steam, then don't ask anyone else to"

Well said: if you don't have faith in your own product why should anyone else?

It's a good mantra.

I've only recently jumped on the EA bandwagon with my purchases of (1) The Long Dark and (2) Beseige. Both of these games are very good but also very playable in their current form for the asking price so I'm happy with them.

I think another good suggestion to indie devs trying to make a quick buck would be "do what you can with what you have". Don't rely on Early Access or Kickstarter or whatever to secure funding of the rest of your product. Understand that embarking on such a campaign could end in failure or lead to bad vibes between your team and your audience if you don't know exactly how to balance your personal goals and the desires of your consumers.

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wilsonam
wilsonam

Nice one Alex. And I think you've hit the nail on the head with this:

"It's a lazy, short sighted attitude which asks gamers to gamble on a game concept, rather than the game itself."

We'll see if we get it right with Killing Floor 2. If we've got it right, people will be helping us balance the game. Maybe find a few bugs that made it through QA and beta testing. But we aren't going to ask anyone to bet on the concept, or even a vertical slice. That sort of crap belongs in Kickstarter or equivalents - Early Access is for people to buy something already playable, that will clearly benefit from community feedback.

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SPY-maps
SPY-maps

Thanks for your great article, have read it with great interest!
And your right, i also noticed that it gets wors and wors.
But, its up to the public i guess. And i think this will not last long, there will come a time when people stop buying early access games as they do know. And only the real early access well build games will stay, at least that is what i hope.

Personaly i never buy a early access, just so i don't buy myself in to a awefull excuse of a game.

Leon

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Sph!nx

Yeah, great article! I've bought two early access titles.

One, "Son of Nor" is almost ready for final release. Great product, great production methods and very trustworthy, imho.

The other one, "Starmade", is a bit of a gamble, but I knew what I was getting into. They are active in development, so I have faith.

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Sph!nx

Ohw, to correct myself. Son of Nor was alpha funded...

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Jetcutter

Did Starmade as well! Very active Dev's.

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Gregs2k2
Gregs2k2

Great little read and I totally agree with all your points. I'm actually guilty of purchasing a few of the mentioned games. Contagion is a good example of EA done right, it went through Kickstarter, all the way to retail and the devs are providing regular updates and upcoming, free DLC (a rarity these days).

My friend gifted H1Z1 to me last month and It's shaping up to be a really solid title, it's had one major release on Steam and is very promising so far.

And as for Killing Floor 2, I'm certain Tripwire will do the right thing. ;-)

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GrindCrushLLC
GrindCrushLLC

Great post. Thanks for saying this out loud and starting a much needed conversation.

Plain and simple the the majority of early access "game developers" are dabblers. People with no intention to complete anything, looking for others to finance their whims before flitting off to something else that catches their fancy.

Day-Z itself is the prime example: "well look at the boatload of cash I got, well you know the team can do a better job making this game so I'll just slip off and make a studio with the cash you gave me for this broken game that I'm walking away from". Thats literally what happened and no one talks about it.

Or Rust: "Well you know, I'm kind of bored of making this product you already paid me to make and I have other ideas I want to pursue so I'm really going to be making other games now instead." Again, literally what happened and no one talks about it or calls anyone out on their actions.

Steam Early Access is like the Reality TV of game development.

It's really too bad because it has potential if not abused, but it will never be fixed because that would lower the revenues being generated from it by Valve.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

In General I think things like Early Access (I can never say EA because I think Electronic Arts!)

Are a really great idea of the internet age, that have allowed some great games to see the light of day that would probably have never existed otherwise.

It really is a communal venture though, those that have been burned need to tell people their stories, developers need to work to maintain the trust of their communities by keeping a dialogue with them. (Even just statements like we are really struggling at the moment but we have not given up) and maintaining transparency with finances and such.

There will be criminals and shiesters (morally if not legally) that abuse the system, but sadly that's life, but we don't give up on 'good society' because of criminals and conmen.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

I think now that Early Access (still can't abbreviate it!) has had some time to become both a monster and a gem, we the consumers need to practice the 'buyer beware' mentality and develop together 'best practice' of how and when and why to back an early access game, andhelp educate each other on the 'tricks and traps' that can used to make somethng look better than it is.

Steam does actually provide some really great tools like free weekends and the like. To help shoppers see if a game is really worth it. Space Engineers got me with this, me and a friend played for nearly 24 hours straight!

(I don't know how they work from the usage side, how you become eligible and such, whether it is a developer choice, steam choice, or a bit of both, or what amount of resources it takes to do it.)

But I for one would love to see it used more.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

Especially if it was made a rule that All EA (I did it!! Just to be clear this is Early Access, not Electronic Arts) had to periodically go on a free weekend, to allow people to make a decision on it, that is based on the actual game, and not the words or pictures or videos of the developer. (because this can be faked and has been done often by both big companies and Early Access at various times for various reasons and is often considered acceptable practice...)

I have some really great early access games in my steam library, and have avoided some real nasties because of 'good' negative reviews.

I think we often talk about the crap too much and not enough about the 'good guys' of early access, and the kinds of attributes you should look for in a developer before 'joining their venture'.

So in that spirit here are a few of my favourite Early Access Purchases.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

Project Zomboid: Now I joined this after this games dark time, where they took a lot of hate and flak because things went wrong (I think a fire or theft or something gutted the developers resources) But even now it is a great game, well worth the (I think £6) I paid for it. I also look forward to the future planned features. They communicate well and regularly, and have a strong community too. I look forward to the weekly mondoids these days.

Space Engineers: Played a free weekend with a friend, played for far too long then is sane, bought 2 copies for the price of one. Job Done. They also update regularly, (more or less weekly barring a hick up) which to me is an impressive work rate and work ethic.

Underrail: I have a soft spot for classic RPG's. I loved Fallout 1 and 2 and felt a tangible sense of misery and betrayal of F3's FPS move...
Anyway. I watched this little game (It actually seems pretty massive!) for a very long time, before grabbing it (I think I got it in a sale again for about £6) I have not got too far into it yet, but it seems pretty much a 'hot dang!' kinda game. They update reasonably regularly about once a quarter maybe, but these seem big and solid. (last one was the beginning of the month) and they communicate well on steam news.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

Kenshi: Bought this early on in it's life span for £6. I had watched it's development for a while, and grabbed it before it went up a notch in price. (which was reasonable as they were about to put in a lot of major new content) I liked the ambition of the developer, I was satisfied that the work already done proved he was not 'blowing smoke' and it had a demo to try before you buy. It's looking to push the boundaries of the way games 'work' rejecting the idea of scripted quests, and trying to make an AI driven world that you can interact with. A peasant doesn't say "protect me from bandit quest", (Click Accept), (Spawn Bandits), (Kill Bandits), peasant says "Quest complete have a reward" instead the plan is, bandits want stuff, bandits take stuff and will be back to take some more later, you wait for them to return and save the village. The Devs Communicate well, give fairly regualr update reports, and seem to be on the verge of a massive content update. (I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of this claim).

DayZ: I put this one at the end, and give it a pinch of salt, mostly because I don't quite understand a lot of the hatred this seems to generate in many steam users! :D. I paid way more than I would normally pay for an early access game, (£20 I think) because a friend begged me to get it. From what I have gleamed about there financial situation (pretty damn good) this seems a bit of an excessive price for an early access game. Last time I played it (about 6 months ago) I wasn't massively overjoyed with it, I called it a running simulator, and the three times I got into it and got some stuff and such, bad things happened. 1) someone shot me in the back. 2) Glitchy zombie close combat saw me eaten. 3) Some kind of server glitch/reset deleted all my hard looted stuff.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

HOWEVER. These issues seem to be fairly well documented, and referred to by the Devs in the (fairly regular) steam news and updates. They have a set of MASSIVE disclaimers that they plaster every where, saying this game is what it is right now. A work in progress. If you don't want to be a part of it then hold on to your money! The various future features, are regularly talked about and 'road mapped' and slowly but steadily find there way into the game.
Most of the hate seems to be of the variety of 3 things.

1) "Why have you not shot all the hackers that ruin the game!"
In this instance, don't hate the game, hate the players. They also seem to be slowly but surely working on better punkbuster-esc security.

2) "I want it now, now, now!" Some people just can't wait for things to be done. They have paid and they want their product, not wholly unreasonable (I think the price tag bites here) but they clearly warn you, repeatedly, you are buying an alpha. (I think they might even have a demo version you can try before you buy? Good practice if I didn't dream it) and the features are coming slowly but surely, but it is an ambitious type of project and I imagine not easily accompolished (there is a reason why there are so many 'survival' flops. It's a big task to get right!)

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

3) "You have loads of money, hire 1,000 new staff and give me the game tomorrow!" Making a team is hard, making an excellent team is harder, finding the best team takes a lot of time and effort. Do you want them to put all there effort into finding/training/developing new staff, or making the game. If they have a big bowl of cash, that can be encouraging because (So long as they don't just walk away and screw the gamers) it means they can take their time, make it right, and not starve or become homeless in the process. So far, I have not seem them ever not deliver, or U-Turn on a major selling point (Which I heard games like H1Z1(and many others) have done massively in the Play to win U-turn...) They just have not delivered 'yet' which is a big difference. I have not personally seen anything that makes me not believe, or distrust the development team, and their updates are usually a good read.

This was a really long rant....it was enjoyable to write though, so maybe someone will enjoy reading it too.

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BlackMoons
BlackMoons

Hi. Developer of Brutal Nature here. Just got greenlit on steam, have several players putting in 20+ hours each into the game, yet I still think I'll wait before going Early Access on steam so the game can be more polished.

Right now you can play the game for free and decide if you wish to buy it or not, and you only get visual elements (different avatars) right now for buying it, so its fair between free and paying players.

I may not be getting as many sales as I would like, but I know everyone who has bought my game really wanted to buy it and support me, and isn't that what Early Access is supposed to be about?

I am also very impressed with Factorio, an 'early access' game (Not yet out on steam, sold direct from their website, but still in beta) that has seen lots of progress and best of all, they are *fixing bugs first*

IMO one of the biggest problems with games today is game breaking bugs. I have seen AAA games that people quit within 30 minutes because of stupid bugs, even when the game seemed absolutely awesome otherwise. So a bugs first approach like Factorio is to be commended.

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

Well done!

Having a demo on offer I think is a corner stone of a good alpha sales policy. It shows a level of confidence and a desire to foster trust amongst your fan base.

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INtense! Staff
INtense!

Agreed - committed developers like you are the ones who deserve EA, but right now it's attracting the wrong kind of people.

The majority of commenters here say EA games should be cheaper. I disagree with that, I think they can be priced at whatever level they want. I think the problem is the sheer volume of EA games, the majority of whom are clearly never going to reach the promises their developers make, which are crowding out the deserving developers like yourself

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FamousSpear
FamousSpear

I can't fully agree with you on the price point issue.

Ofcourse a developer can charge whatever they want, and they need to make budget and have the resources needed to make the game right.
HOWEVER
An Early Access Developer is asking it's customers to pay them to have you work for them. (In essence)
Stress testing, Bug Hunting, granting diverse system(Computer specs) data, feedback, etc.
Bank account allowing, a developer should be giving these people a reward for their passionate support.

If you are going to charge a high price, you need to be handing them something that will not quickly induce rage from flaws(or at least make every effort to shout about these rage inducing flaws and how you fully intend to destroy them in the future), have a try before you buy policy, and a generally open and transparent dialogue, that shows you are spending their high trust in you wisely.

Otherwise your passionate fan base will become a pitch fork weilding mob!

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TheUnbeholden
TheUnbeholden

I've seen Dex take this approach of fixing the multitude of game breaking bugs or just annoying user interface issues that it had as their first priority, with stuff like quests/sound/graphical and gameplay additions coming second place or later down the road. Making the title more user friendly and stable is definitely a good initial mindset and they are transparent about what they are working on.

I'm definitely of the mindset that demo's are a commercial failure more often than not. However a trial period is something that would seriously decrease the amount of hate that early access is getting, alot less people would be putting their money into something that ends up being discarded by the devs, steams stance on refunds isn't going to change and I think perhaps it shouldn't, so this may be the only real way to prevent wide spread disdain and backing away from all things early access. Mandatory 30 minute trial period to every steam account that downloads it would be a very welcome addition that along with steam employee level curation (not just user curation) could save this pay-for-betatesting concept from being thrown away completely.

I'm happy that steam has user based popularity on whether the game should be in a position to possibly get on steam (before steam had a total lack of transparency, what rules there was to get on steam if you had no publisher) but steam has to take greater responsibility for what its providing us. Games that use copyrighted content or lie about what features they have, or so unstable its unplayable, should not be getting onto the store for anyone to pay-for let alone play.

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ww.dk
ww.dk

i agree, Early Access games should be free to play in essence, with the option to buy if you like it. for as long as the game is in early access everyone can play it like a demo/open beta, but when the game is released only those who buy can get access. this way the devs won't be able to "milk" their players but will still get the benefit of early access. previously triple A titles used closed/open beta for these purposes and they were free. well sometimes you could buy into closed beta, but open beta was always free.

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LordIheanacho
LordIheanacho

Totally agree. Demos are become scarce these days I swear.
More developers need to go back to that route again.

This may not be much of a problem with free hobby games (probably explains why AM3 managed to slide through with a pass) but it becomes rather shady and distrustful when avoiding demos for AAA games, even if they are fearful their game will not sell well, I would still say go for it. If there is one thing I've learned throughout the years, its that this generation is somewhat more forgivable when it comes to proving demonstration vs. stealth tactics and relying on hype factor, granted the devs are willing to improve it more. Even a beta version release or something helps. That's kind of what EA is for, but problem with that is that I am basically paying money for a demo instead of being granted one for free.

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Calvinic
Calvinic

Very good article, though I find your reasoning with buying a broken game to be a challenge more than a deterrent to be very flawed.

You sound as though you're not taking consumer responsibility into account. Customers have an obligation on their part just as much as the developers do in early access. Valve gives a fair warning that by purchasing the game, you could be buying a game that may not change.

Anyone that views that as a challenge needs to seriously rethink their reasoning. That is more of a fair warning than anything else.

Furthermore, as far as regulation goes, Valve is not going to tightly restrain this feature except where there are serious issues to be addressed. It's making them a ton of cash because of how flexible it is.

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kealoz
kealoz

I'm actually not tired of crappy survival early access games because I'm not stupid and don't play them, I vet my games to the extreme so I know what I'm getting 99% of the time.

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medve
medve

my biggest problem is that most of the games coming out from early access, are still in alpha, even tho they are advertised as a full game now on. like wrack.

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LordIheanacho
LordIheanacho

Wrack....

Dear God of all **** was that game a total disappointment.

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badboy_zay
badboy_zay

amazing article! a must read for pretty much everyone out there. gotta stop those greedy ******** from making easy money.

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LordIheanacho
LordIheanacho

A few years ago, I've always had a gut feeling that a business model such as Steam Greenlight would likely turn into a disaster especially when relying on modern generation users from the Steam community to decide what games get on the platform compared to the original Valve QA testing the game. It has it's pros (for instance, allowing certain games to slide through and give users a chance to vote with their wallets without others trying to censor it due to personal disdain (*cough*Hatred*cough*), but sadly it seems they are out-weighted by the cons and as a game developer and a gamer it really hurts me to say this because it truly has the potential to be used for a much greater and responsible purpose than what it's used for now. One of the members from my team have once told me "Never overestimate the modern-day gamer's intelligence". Well, he was somewhat right about that, especially when it comes to the Steam community or at least the fans of Valve's Source Engine games (e.g. Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, etc.) and now Greenlight. Considering Valve's recent unethical tactics as well as the path of most devs I've spoken with and known are now following, I was becoming more inclined to refrain from submitting any of my future works to Steam now and submitting it elsewhere or even making my own distributor platform and selling it from there. It's becoming dangerous to the point where if your game is not on Steam, it's likely to never be recognized. I am not sure if there are any laws combating online monopolies (as I doubt national law seems to have any effect on that), but it seems Valve is becoming one and if they do succeed with that... Game Over.

I hate what has come of Valve and the gaming industry as a whole, especially ever since the #GamerGate controversy which blatantly confirmed and revealed the corrupted tactics being used to selling off games (amongst other things...). I would say this industry seriously needs to be reformed.

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LordIheanacho
LordIheanacho

Oh, and by "future works" I am not talking about those from the current Army Men Extended project series (Army Men III and Army Men Multiplayer), I am referring to commercial games of my own IP (especially one particular game of which I am kind of working behind the scenes as part of my college assignments, killing multiple birds with one stone).

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