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The problem with early access games.

13 posts in this topic

As we steam users know, early access games have been occupying the featured games slideshow. There are many early access games that I have purchased just to find out are not fully complete. Understandably, that should be expected. The intention of early access games is to provide developers with constructive criticism so they can make positive adjustments and fix bugs. Steam is very pro-community; a very good choice for them. . . IF they do it right. Here is a direct quote from the steam website store.steampowered.com/earlyaccessfaq/?snr=1_200_200_Early+Access.

"We like to think of games and game development as services that grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and the community. There have been a number of prominent titles that have embraced this model of development recently and found a lot of value in the process. We like to support and encourage developers who want to ship early, involve customers, and build lasting relationships that help everyone make better games."

It is clear that steam would like to include the way games themselves are made into this community powered business.

Lots of these games present themselves with professional trailers, screenshots, and descriptions. All of them promote the game just the same as any other game would. A form of false advertising with an official excuse to do so; the game will loos like this and have that feature once it is completed. Even the community ratings are hardly reliable. The majority of the positive ones are gamers who bought the game, played it for a few hours MAX, get bored with it, then give it a good rating because they were either convinced that it will develop into a great game, the improper mindset that the early access game requires extra easy judgment because it is not yet complete, or because they think that others will like it. WRONG! Every early access game that receives ratings through this procedure, gets the undeserving positive community ratings when it is complete. If I rate a game without testing it entirely, but through the belief that it has potential, then that game will get to keep that when it completes into a FULL game. If it even does. Some early access games are abandoned because they successfully got enough profit to demotivate them. This leads me onto my next point.

A perfect example of an abandoned early access game would be called Towns. Towns was nominated on greenlight to be published for sale on the steam store as an early access game. Even I was excited for the games completion. Towns became a featured game and attracted a lot of attention and received lots of success. The game was good! It was not good enough to be entertaining, but it certainly had lots of potential. Again, it was very good for an early access game but not for a completed game. So of course, everyone gave it positive reviews. After some time has passed, the incomplete game went inactive just to be declared abandoned officially by their developers. I might have believed their excuses on their forums if they stopped developing before they made a 2 million dollar profit! Here is a timeline of the amount of times the game has been played every day http://steamcharts.com/app/221020#All the chart spikes are not from updates, but are from steam sales. Notice how in only two years, the average player count dropped plunged. November 2012, near its release, had an average of 1310.4 players. To date, the average is  The following quotes are from a post on the Towns forum from a developer. http://www.townsgame.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=10615

"So so far Towns has sold more than 200k units and generated a gross revenue of more than 2M usd. and although we are pretty sure we can and will sell a lot more, we still see it as a huge success."

"So, what we did was that at some point, we had to take a vacation from towns. the best vacation we could take was to start developing a new game. something fresh that would bring the joy of creation back. in the last few weeks we have been exploring several ideas and about last week we have found that one idea we want to take further, we have created a very simple framework and put it aside. let me be as clear as possible about this: We are not working on a new game right now, not until we are fully satisfied with Towns. but by having the clear vision of the future, it finally allowed us to breath a little fresh air and come back to looking at towns with a clearer perspective."

Lies, lies, lies. What I predict is the developers were making Towns with profit on their minds; a common and acceptable motivation. Then they received 2 million dollars. Yes, that is an incredible about over 2 years. Now that their number one motivator, money, is a goal successfully achieved, they have nothing much left to motivate them. I highly doubt that they would release an incomplete game onto steam. They did not intend for this to happen, but now that they lost their motivation to develop this title, working on it further would seem more like a painful chore. Honestly, the same thing has happened to me. I received the reward I was working for prior to completing a project I was working on, and then I lost motivation to continue.


This whole thing is like the following analogy. I want to move to another house, so I look online for a nice looking one. There are both incomplete and complete ones mixed in with each other for sale. Prefer buying a complete one, but I see an incomplete one that catches my eye instead. So I buy the house, pack up my belongings, and move to my new home. When I arrive, I walk inside of it. It could certainly need some paint and a few modifications, but overall it seems great for the most part. I go into the bathroom only to find the sink dried up and non functional. I understand that the house is not complete, but surely I cannot live there without plumbing. I walk upstairs to find that it has not yet been constructed. Understanding that the house is still under construction, I return to my other home and plan to return once it is complete. I am very excited to do so because the house has so much potential! Its architect showed me his/hers plans for the house and upper floor! After a year or two, I return to the house to discover that little has been worked on. Upset, I complain to the architect. The architect tells me that they need a "break" because they have been working "very hardly" need a "vacation". Their "non-working vacation break turns out to be another house to start working on. Upset, I ditch the house and look for another one to buy. This is exactly what happened to towns and many other potential games.

Do not get me wrong! I fully support community based businesses! I just don't want to witness them getting intentionally or unintentionally exploited by developers. Here are a few suggestions I thought of:

Test the game for promised features before they declare it complete.

Make a separate rating system designed for feedback to the developers with categorized tabs that specifies if it is a suggestion or bug.

Do not promote players from buying the game to buy the game. Instead promote them to do it for feedback by replacing rating system.

create a separate section of the store for early access games.

There is many more I have but I am getting tired of typing. I am just suggesting that it is not wise to make a message on the front page of the game page. Lots of games follow through with their promise to complete it. However steam, please reconsider your filters.


GAH! I am done typing. Please take note that my brain is not working at its best today because of mass sleep deprivation. There might be lots of misspelled words of improper sentences and usage of grammar. I also am sorry for the bland use of vocabulary and general writing voice. Also, I usually get off topic or generate a grudge against a side when I talk about a topic for long periods of time. So do tell me if I seem a bit prejudice here. Thanks! Time to nap.

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i can not translate some of the words but i can see what yoiur seeing and i agree

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But on to the topic, i personally really agree that Early Access should have an entire section of its own separated from the complete games. I really don't like the "Here's a non complete game, but we promise we will finish it some day and it will include all of this...." kind of business model and thus i will never support it. It should be obvious that when someone gets the reward for a product there is no reason to finish it, as the reward already in the pocket. It can be harming in many more ways then just putting out unfinished products.

Where the Early Access model claims to make better games as the initial investment doesn't need to be too big and that the money the devs would make is going to help development process. You can never know how the devs are using the money they generate while in early access and the fact that they already get money means they can make simpler games under the excuse that they are small companies who couldn't start on their own.

Speaking of analogies - I don't think that if you go to a restaurant, you will be happy to buy a meal without seasoning at all, or that it misses some parts to it while the chef promised to add them later on. You don't go to a PC store and buy half a hard drive? Or one that doesn't have the "Write" functionality and can only read data on it. Why is it ok then to pay for a not finished game?

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they are a pimple that grows bigger every day. its anoying and half of em never get finished or get abandoned. thats my biggest problem.

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I think TotalBiscuit covers some of the reasons there are issues with it fairly well. I highly recommend his video on the subject

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Oh man, as I read this over I realize how grumpy I sound. Sorry about that indeed!

No worries. :)

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Early access games may cause a lot of complaints from the gamers out there, because sometimes, games may release in an unfinished, buggy state that the devs were forgot to fix a lot of bugs before the official release date.

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I have only one problem with Early Access games - their existence.

This pretty much.

Look at titles like Day Z - It costs freaking 30$ and it has absolutely nothing to it! You run around - Get killed by players who ran around longer then you... Pick up a couple of items if you are lucky enough and the server started to respawn items (Which are mostly useless), and that's it!

It is called a zombie survival game, when the only thing you are trying to survive is other players trying to kill you! The zombies have no AI, no drops and they can pass through ANYTHING! They can even hit you through the ceiling while you are on the second floor.


I don't understand how such a game can be such a success =/ either people are really dumb, or i am the dumb one and am missing something

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