In an ever expanding attempt to seize the indie market, Sony’s VP of Publisher and Developer Relations Adam Boyes stated in a recent Gamasutra interview that the idea has been discussed.
“That’s one of the massive conversations we have internally — that, at what point does [a game meet standards of release]? We still at some point ensure that we’re being mindful of the consumer. We don’t want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience.
At the same time, I’m like you — I want to help bootstrap people, to bootstrap them, to help them out. Like supporting the underdog for a sports team.”
Although no details were discussed, it is notable that other platforms are looking into the Early Access model to attract not only indie developers but players as well. PlayStation could possibly offer this as a special area of the PlayStation Store or serve titles with the upcoming PlayStation Now service.
Early Access seems like a program that makes you pay to be a beta tester and I’m not sure I want that. There are plenty of people out there that do though, so perhaps you’ll have one more place for it.
Paul Novak is a self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing in the west side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet. Found here at What’s Your Tag? and on the Twitter @dudewantshisrug. Game on with Team XBRO!
I’m not a big early access guy, and I think it really boils down to the pricing. You pay the same price as the game’s eventual retail cost, but you have to tough it out through countless updates that may or may not reflect the game you originally intended to pick up. Some games do this very well though, like Vlambeer’s Nuclear Throne, but some games stay in Early Access status for a long, long time.
I think another issue that may prevent early access from being successful on consoles is the amount of time it takes for Sony or Microsoft to push through updates and content patches. It’s the same reason games like Minecraft, Terraria, and Warframe are so far behind the PC updates.
Quality control would have to be there in some fashion. Maybe even a time limit on how long something can be in early access. Tough things to do though with smaller developers.
Especially when you consider how long it takes Sony and Microsoft to allow these updates to go through on home consoles. Early Access doesn’t seem to add up on consoles unless they’re free to check out. If Sony wanted to charge me the same price for Early Access to Nuclear Throne as Steam does, there is no way I’d even consider picking it up on PS4.
What if they had a return system? If you pay $10 for a game in Early Access, you can either keep the full game upon its release or get $10 in store credit. I like the idea but it’ll probably never happen.
That wouldn’t be a bad idea, really. For Steam, I wish they reduced the cost for Early Access stuff. Like letting you pay half or a third up front, and then once it goes retail paying the remainder or even less. You are basically paying to be a beta tester, like you said.
I guess they want to make sure you’ll actually play the game since you invested in it, just to be sure they get some feedback.
I think early access works, but there’s got to be a bit more regulation to it. Like AMGFAIL said, the price is another issue. Some of these games are borderline unplayable (Earth: Year 2066 is a prime example…), yet what can you do when you’ve already paid and put hope in the game? And there’s always the question of when can the developer deliver. Games like DayZ honestly feels like it is ages away from being done, and yet we’re paying $30 to be an alpha tester. If Sony can set some good guidelines up so that both developers and gamers feel that they’re getting the most out of early access, sure do it.
Unless Sony does things differently than Steam, I am very against this. Early-access games merely require you to pay for an unfinished game – in fact, there is no guarantee that the game ever will be completed. If Sony requires a much smaller payment to start out and then the rest upon full release, that would be one thing. But paying full price to play a slowly-updated crappy alpha build is ludicrous.
It would be nice to have a lower buy-in or a refund/return policy but we’ll have to see if they even offer the program at all much less how they will run it. Ultimately the customer has the option to participate or not.