Early Access – How to do it right

So there ‘s a big ruckus going on right now on the interwebs, and that’s because of the proliferation of Early Access games on Steam. It’s a scheme which lets developers sell (that’s the important word here) their unfinished games. It’s the equivalent of Alpha and Beta testing games, but paying money for the privilege.

Now, you can probably see several pros and cons right off the bat here. Here are the main ones:

Pro

+ Get to play xxxxxx game early!
+ Get the full game cheaper once it finally releases.
+ Help the developer make the game you want it to be with feedback.

Con

– You’re paying for an unfinished game.
– You’re paying for an unfinished game.
– You have no way of knowing if the game will even get finished!

In the right hands, Early Access is a great thing. In the wrong hands, it really isn’t. Ask anyone who backed Towns or Stardrive. Why am I posting this today? I’m posting because of a great example of developers showing their community the right attitude toward all this.

A couple of days ago I picked up Pixel Piracy in the Steam Sale because it looked like fun and is being made by the developers of another game I love, namely Terraria. I knew it was early access as it’s plastered all over the store page on Steam. This morning I was having a read of reddit when I came across this thread – http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/28np65/heads_up_be_very_wary_of_purchasing_pixel_piracy/

As someone who has already bought it, and enjoyed it for that matter, my interest was piqued. The person who created the thread listed a load of things which – in his opinion – made the game very broken. Remember this is a game in Alpha stage at the moment, not a finished product. There seems to be a lot of people out there who see Early Access as ‘get a full new game early!’, and not ‘this product isn’t finished, we could do with your feedback to help us finish it’. So I’m reading the thread when I come across this post:

Hi there everyone! Alex Poysky, the producer of Pixel Piracy here.

First off, I wanted to thank you all for all of the comments, both positive and negative. We try our hardest to achieve and we NEED criticism to keep steeribg in the right direction.

Release date will be the FIFTH of july, with CONTINUED SUPPORT AND BI-WEEKLY UPDATES applied for A MINIMUM of 8 months. Compare mount and blade 1.0 to 1.76 for example. Sure, both are finished but 1.76 came out a year later and hosted an incredible amount of content. This is what we want for Pixel Piracy.

Is it worth it? I can’t answer that as I would be BIASED. But please download UTORRENT and go to the pirate bay, download the copy I uploaded last week. And play to your hearts content. IF YOU ENJOY IT buy the game or tell someone who will! If not? At least it was free!

Your opinions truly matter, if they didnt I wouldnt be here posting at 4 am after a full day working and celebrating the flash sale.

My twitter is @alexpoysky and I am VERY approachable nif I ever become an entitled jerk shoot me please.

Thank you all for everything!

-Alex

I’ve bolded the bits I think deserve attention.

This, this right here, this is how you treat the people playing your games. Especially your unfinished games. Developers big and small, take note. There are replies on this thread from people now saying that they’ll buy the game even though they don’t think they’ll play it, just on the strength of Alex’s attitude. That’s how much people care about this stuff, and with calls to boycott Battlefield Hardline (it’s basically a mod, and not a very good one, that EA will sell for a lot of money. I played the beta a few times and uninstalled it) and everything Ubisoft put out, developers and publishers need to start taking note.

The irony of sharing a pirate simulator on a website chiefly used for pirating isn’t lost on me, it’s genius.

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