Early Access, in recent years, has become the go-to for developers looking to grow a following for their games. PC players in particular are targeted on Steam, but Early Access has also found its way onto consoles from Microsoft's Early Access system. For those who don't know, Early Access refers to the act of developers, of video games in particular, who release their game before it is finished. Usually for about 15-20 US Dollars, players may play the unfinished version of the game and report back to the developers, telling them what is wrong, broken, or unbalanced in the game, and also tell the developers what else players would like to see.
This sounds like a pretty harmless system, but here is where the issue lies: Many times, the game never becomes finished. Most developers do place a warning, saying that the game may never reach a full release and, as such, only to spend your money if you are truly willing to support the game and it's hope of a full release.
This system has its rewards, obviously, such as developing a game around the fans of the game, and crafting an experience that is best for them. For every huge success in Early Access, such as ARK: Survival Evolved (A survival game where you fight dinosaurs. It's pretty rad.) and Kerbal Space Program, there is always quite a few missteps and drop outs. The Stomping Land and Earth: Year 2066 met a similar fate after Steam pulled them from their website and shut it down after developers hadn't updated either game in months.
So what are others saying about Early Access Games? John from Rock, Paper, Shotgun said:
I know that everyone cites Prison Architect, but honestly, management games make me want to hide in the corner, so I can’t judge that one. But survival games – that seems to me to be where early access (EA is an annoying shortening, eh?) shines. To be plonked on a deserted island, given a scant set of tools, and asked to survive, works even when a game is very limited. Adding more only makes the game become more interesting to play. So the model suits that, for me. But then I struggle to enthuse about it for anything else.
John seems to think that Early Access is good for certain types of games, but others, not so much. What about you? What do you think about Early Access games and what they do for the community?