Early Access

I don’t like it.  More specifically, I think it’s a very dishonest practice, with limited consumer protection.  Anyone can name a dozen “games” that were in early access and that never delivered.

Kickstarter is something different.  You are not paying for an early version of the game, you are paying to help developers.  Early Access, the STEAM kind, is you paying to be an alpha/beta tester.  Landmark did this, collected oodles of money, and they took a sunset.  A large amount stay in early access for years.  In practical terms, the difference between pre-ordering and early access is that there’s a date on the former.  And I have a massive dislike for pre-orders.

I am going to harp on ME:4.  I know that Isey is in love with the game.  Metacritic does not share that attitude.  The difference here is that if you enjoy the story/lore, then you can look past the technical hurdles.  The fact that EA had a rather large patch to address the technical items, in a short time frame, is fairly indicative that they knew this was a problem beforehand.  How many games now have day 1 patches?  Or week 1?  That measure in gigs?

I played D3 on release.  I avoided SimCity like the plague.  I won’t buy any EA game on release day, or release week.  These are broken models.

I understand the marketing gimmicks of release windows.  I get that software development is hard, and only gets harder as you close in on due dates.  I also understand that a game that releases in a buggy format is remembered for that failure, while a game that is released late is remembered for working.

We gamers need to stop rewarding this horrible business practices.  We are so consumed with instant access to everything that we’ve lost the ability to wait for quality.  Being a tester is not a privilege that we should be paying for.  It’s a privilege that developers should be paying us, as we’re doing their jobs.  We need to spend our money on quality, rather than quantity, and reward ethical behavior.

Money is the only thing that makes this world go round.  Let’s use our wallets to get voices heard.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Early Access

  1. On the flip side, without EA, a lot of games wouldn’t never reach a status where we see them, as the devs would have run out of funding and the whole game would be cancelled (or not even attempted in the first place).

    All the games you mentioned are big-budget AAA titles, but that’s not who really uses EA (ME4 isn’t even on Steam, nor are D3 or Sims).

    When you buy in is up to each person, whether its the first day of EA, once EA is rolling, day one of release, or when a game is 75% off, but if everyone waits for the 75% off point, we won’t have many games to play at all.

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    • If you as a developer are going into Early Access to fund your dev process and you don’t already have a big name/marketing budget behind you, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t make enough money to keep your studio afloat. Speaking from experience, at least for indies, unless you get really lucky, that funding might pay for a meal a day at most. For one person. Better than nothing, though, I suppose.

      Early Access is good for getting more testing input, especially for small indies who literally cannot test their game on the redonkulous number of hardware configurations out there. It’s also good for getting more information on what’s working and what isn’t if, again, you can’t afford to get people to play your game locally while you watch.

      That said, watching both Kickstarter and Early Access get taken over by big-name publishers is pretty depressing, because those are the companies that don’t need that kind of money/feedback, and it makes it that much more difficult for the indies if the big names make poor decisions that reflect on everyone using those models.

      That said, if you don’t want to play a buggy game, don’t buy into Early Access. I support that, and even though Early Access was amazing for my game for paragraph 2 reasons, I generally don’t purchase Early Access games as a consumer myself because I’m not interested in testing other people’s games. And that’s totally kosher.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Apologies for the late reply.

        I agree with the purpose of pre-funding game development, also called investment. I take issue with the way that it is managed, in two parts. 1) companies that clearly have the funds to self-manage and 2) developers that never deliver.

        #2 happens for hundreds of reasons. Nearly all of them due to poor planning.

        I do not see any purpose of EA funding testing. It’s a useful byproduct, but we’ve had public beta tests for years to meet that same need.

        It stinks that smaller, responsible devs are paying the price for poor EA management.

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  2. The patch hasn’t made any noticeable differences to the game play. Without the delay for the download, I wouldn’t even have known there was a patch =) It’s the placebo patch for the people who jumped on the negative band wagon with a slow gaming news cycle.

    Also, metacritic is full of real good reviews =)

    “When a company forgets why people play games, and instead pushes social agendas, they make games like Mass Effect Andromeda….”
    “But what we don’t need are 20th/21st century earth social issues shoe-horned into a futuristic space fantasy…”
    “This is what happens when Bioware hires based on ethnicity (so they can pat themselves on the back for their diversity) instead of actual talent”
    “..it’s that bad, and that is without even mentioning the horrible radical feminist BS they just had to drop on this game.”
    “Ugly characters and facial expressions (one of your team members seems to be constantly smiling, even when announcing the death of someone, everybody’s eyes seem to be popping out)
    “Everyone seems to be black, there’s no way to have a white or asian skin for your character ”

    Hard to take that metacritic user reviews seriously =)

    Like

    • The personal metacritic comments are always a treasure trove of fun.

      It would be neat if these comments had to be parent-approved. Like if it sent a copy to their mom and said ‘this is what your offspring is saying, you cool?’

      Liked by 1 person

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