Early access on Steam had been around for quite a long time where studios and independent developers put their games up for players to take a look, play and review their product. As you would expect, this is mostly PC and Mac only and there are things I wish I knew before I took up some of those games.
What is Early Access?
As the name implies, early access sort of acts like a beta where players can test the game and review it based on their experiences. Ideally, developers would take in the feedback and use it to fix bugs/glitches or develop content in a different way. Each game on Steam may have Developers listing their reasons why they chose to release their game in an Early Access state. These games generally tend to be cheaper than what they would be if it was officially released as a full game. The perk here is that you will technically own the game for cheaper than if you would buy it post-release.
It is warned that the game may not develop further for any reason and if you as a consumer aren’t comfortable to play the game in its current ‘unfinished’ state, then you should not purchase it. That being said, the whole purpose of this feature is to allow players to get an insight on what the game might be.
Downsides of Early Access
Early Access has its own problems as a feature. A fair amount of games that had been put up for Early Access had never made it to final release or been effectively ‘Abandoned’. It is to be noted that game development is a pretty difficult job and most games that are put for Early Access tended to be developed by indie studios.
On top of that, they generally tend to be harder to enjoy due to missing parts of gameplay, story or plentiful amount of bugs and glitches. It also has a bit of a risk for the consumer that when they ‘buy’ the game in this stage, it is a technical investment that the developers will continue to improve the game.
So should you buy Early Access Games?
Each game is a case by case scenario. Aside from preferences, what you want to see etc. It’s important to read anything on what the developers have to say about their product. Their reasons on why they choose to put the Early Access status on their game could be a major indication of whether the game will succeed.
It generally is cheaper and continuous developer updates do make it feel like you are part of a team developing the game. It helps that in a sense, you and your fellow Early Access players will be giving a bit of a guidance to the developers on what may be a good idea for the game that is currently being developed.
Have you bought a few Early Access games yourself? What are some of the best and worst you’ve touched upon?