Welcome to our weekly feature, “Question Of The Week.” As you can tell from that entirely original title each week we pose a question to our panel and they chime in with their opinions. No one sees one another’s responses until the story is posted, so each contributors thoughts are their own. Responses are posted in no particular order.
And remember, as with all editorials, the views expressed in this editorial are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Cliqist.com.
The question of the week for the week of 6/8/14 is :
What’s your opinion of Steams “Early Access” program?
In and of itself, Steam’s Early Access (EA) program is nothing new. Various developers have been offering alpha and beta access to their games prior to EA. It’s just that they received less traction (Minecraft nonwithstanding). At its core, EA provides a really cool way for interested players to see how games are formed and, on occasion, provide useful feedback. The cons come in when developers use EA not as a means to better their game but for extra cash that may not end up flowing back into the actual project! Recently, Valve updated their EA information to warn buyers that some games may never be finished despite their promises to the contrary. Hopefully EA continues to be used by the majority of developers for good reasons and not for shady stuff.
I’m kinda lukewarm on it. On one hand, it’s nice that you can support the devs early on and get a chance to take an early look at the game. On the other, you’re basically paying those devs to test their game for them, which has always made me iffy. Sure, you’re getting into the product and yes, you’ll have access to the game once it releases for real. But wouldn’t you rather wait until the game is polished and, you know, playable? For multiplayer games, they have betas for a reason. Having to buy your way into one seems kinda cheap, if you ask me.
Being someone who’s reviewed a ton of early access games lately, I think that it’s a good program. It is, however, being grossly misused. Early Access is a program meant to let people support you at an earlier stage of development than a full release. It gives the fans the opportunity to snag the game at a lower cost, watch it develop, and give the developers a hand. Unfortunately now, Steam Early Access is a place where developers put a 5 minute demo of their game’s pre-pre-pre-Alpha and sell it for full price. I think the way some developers use this potentially excellent method of fundraising is completely wretched. It’s fine to put an unfinished game up. Perfectly fine. That’s the entire point of Steam Early Access. But charge what it is worth. In many cases, the product that you get in exchange for your $10 to $20 has less content that a free demo. *Drops mic*
I thoroughly adore the very existence of Steam’s Early Access program; and I shall bow down to Steam’s holiness for such awesomeness. In all honesty, I have little experience utilizing the Steam Early Access myself, but I am a big fan of the concept. Playing games before their actual release, similar to beta testing them? That’s a wonderful thing. It’s a great way to develop a bit of community prior to the game’s release along with giving the developer(s) an opportunity to correct any mistakes/bugs going on. Either way, it’s a win-win. People that are unable to purchase the games (at full price) have an opportunity to both play something while also benefiting the developer simultaneously. I don’t think I can’t talk this up any more – it’s a snazzy idea as far as I’m concerned.
I have mixed emotions about this one, and my opinion may not make a whole lot of sense. On one hand I love that people can get to play a game before its official release while giving financial and testing support to developers. The kid in me that hates waiting for games to come out gets extremely excited when I see a new Early Access release. The Debbie Downer is me hates that developers seem content to let games sit in Early Access forever, and don’t give their early adopters any incentive other than getting to play the game early. A price break, exclusive content, a hug, anything would be good. Sure, sometimes Early Access games are a little cheaper, but you just know it’s going to be going for $0.49 during some Steam sale soon after its release.
Overall I think it’s a good thing. Developers get lots of feedback and development cash, while gamers have yet another choice.
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