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Hey Early Access, Bug Right Off!

by on February 21, 2014
 

Early Access is the hottest thing on Steam. Gamers are eating it up, and developers love receiving funding as they’re working on their game. But is it really a good thing? Has it gotten out of control? We’ll take a look a closer look at gaming’s greatest scheme.

I’ve made games, not many, just a couple. The games I made are not AAA blockbusters, had no marketing, audience, nor distribution. I understand why big games cost a lot of money to make, but the games I made cost nothing except my time. So why are all of these small developers (1 – 5 people) trying to cash in on Steam’s Early Access program?

Early Access Is A Great Idea

Gamers get access to a game early for a fee, can provide their feedback to the developer, and in return, the developer gets paid as they’re making the game. End result, the developer does not necessarily need a lot of cash up front to start a project.

Early Access VS Kickstarter

Before Early Access, Kickstarter was all the rage. However, Early Access is not too different from Kickstarter. A company or developer pitches an idea to the general public and asks for money. Kickstarter’s model requires the developer to set a goal, and in order for the developer to get any money, the goal must be met. Early Access removes restraints from the Kickstarter model – no goals. The developer just has to convince the general public that their game is a good idea, then the developer can start selling their incomplete game. Although what happens when not enough people invest in a game, the developer is not making enough money, and therefore cannot continue to make the game? Simple, gamers lose their investment… err, donation… err, what?

Investment, Donation, Say What?

The money gamers give to an Early Access title is seen as a donation, but really it is an investment. Presumably, without your money, the developer could not continue making their game. For example, what happens when the game is released and the developer starts making millions? Do you see any money from that? No, you do not. This is wrong. Because any other person who has money and would’ve given it to the developer to make the game, would’ve demanded something in return. Gamers are saying, “here, take my money, I’ll play your broken game, and if the game is ever done, I already ‘own’ it”. If this were any other deal, I hope that any gamer would scoff at the idea.

How can Early Access be fixed?

Step 1
Game is pitched to general public

Step 2
If enough people approve the game, game becomes FREE for everyone

Step 3
At this point, players can donate to the developer if they wish. Although, before the developer can set a price for everyone to pay, a goal has to be reached. Examples of a goal are:

  • Donations must equal $X from Y people
  • $Z donated overall

These goals can be set in one of two ways:

  • Valve picks goals that apply to all Early Access titles
  • Goals can be set by the game’s community

Why is Step 3 so important? Simple.

  • Gamers will not donate to a game that sucks
  • Gamers will not donate to a game that isn’t being updated
  • Gamers will not donate to a game that has a flaky developer

In other words, the above process and definitely Step 3, will ensure that a game has not only promised something great, but it is also on on its way to being great. Furthermore, it protects gamers from being ripped off, and the integrity of Early Access.

What am I asking of you?

Tell everyone – Valve, Steam community, and developers that Early Access is flawed and needs to be fixed. Feel free to refer them to this post.

Until Early Access is fixed, vote with your wallet – don’t support the program.