Steam is popular for having great deals on games, an easy way to play them, and a slum in the back known as Early Access. Although lots of good has come out of the Early Access system, many developers have taken advantage of the once easily exploited format. Towns, a game that ceased development after thousands of early access copies were sold, was a prime example pushed into the limelight. Starbound, the popular “Spiritual Successor to Terarria” has been in neglected by the developers who have sense used the money on starbound to release other games, and left those who purchased the game, which had big promises, with an unfinished shell.
Steam has set some new ground rules to try and clean up the early access streets. First developers must clearly label their game as “Early Access,” even if it is being sold on outlets other than Steam. Prices must be uniform across all platforms, and developers must launch on other platforms at the same time that they launch on Steam.
The next change is a big one. No more promising what the game will have in the future. This comes as many people have backed a game, only to have the game release featureless and leave the consumer disappointed. Valve stated:
“Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realized.”
Steam has also laid out some guidelines for Early Access on top of the rules above to make the experience better for everyone.
- Don’t launch in Early Access if you can’t afford to develop with very few or no sales.
- Make sure you set expectations properly everywhere you talk about your game.
- Don’t launch in Early Access without a playable game.
- Don’t launch in Early Access if you are done with development.
Hopefully this will change the environment in Early Access. Many people are skeptical of games in early release, and they have reason to. These changes may bring more people in, and will definitely protect mindless consumers who will jump on any “Open World procedurally generated sandbox building rouge-like Game with crafting and a stealth system, where you play as a goat with a shovel.”