Thursday, March 21, 2013

Steam Launches new Early Access Program

by Greg Woolston

Source: Steam

Gamers looking to get early access to new games, and take part in the games development process will be excited to learn about Steam’s new early access program. This new program offers individuals the ability to purchase games that are still in development to play before it’s final retail release.
This allows developers to give gamers an opportunity to play, and essentially test the games in order to find hidden bugs and give constructive feedback. Valve indicates that this is an incredible opportunity for gamers to get involved in the development process, and help developers make their games better. The early access FAQ states:

“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.”

Pricing for each early access game is dictated by the developers and can range from inexpensive to retail type pricing depending on how far the game is along in development. This price also, as far as I have been able to find out, grants the gamer access to the full retail release of the game when it is complete. Some developers offer other digital goods with the purchase of higher tiered options. There are also some pricing options, including Kickstarter like perks, allowing players to have their name featured in the credits or name a certain character in the game. The current list of titles is limited to 12, but many more will most likely be added with time.

Source: Steam

This is a very interesting idea, and if done properly could yield a very beneficial tool for developers. Gamers must be aware that these are NOT complete versions of the game. Most likely the game will contain quite a few bugs. The idea is that by having a lot of gamers try these games out early all of the bugs can be found, and the final release of the game will be complete. If you are impatient with buggy games, then it is probably best to just wait until the game releases. However, this is an excellent way to get involved with game development. The course of this program will be interesting to follow to see if development actually does benefit. This is one step in the right direction of helping to eliminate certain issues in games.

For more information visit the FAQ at:

Written by Greg Woolston
Junior Tech Editor


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