The Enterprise of Early Access

The games industry has been seeing a lot of change these last years in how it both markets and presents games now and as I see it, this has both been a positive thing but also incredibly problematic. We have the ability to get into games much earlier now through the many early access type programs and support growing games companies and ideas that wouldn’t have been realised. We have seen a lot more diversity in the game being made and played now because of this. It’s a great time. But it’s a model that seems to be increasingly problematic in the way it is sold, presented and in the ways larger games are taking advantage of the good will gamers give.

It’s funny, in a not so good way that when the whole early access craze began of paying into development. with games like Minecraft showing how it’s done the price of these models was rather cheap to account for the fact we were playing an unfinished game and also helping out the developer with input and bug squashing. As such there was that discount there as thanks. Now it seems we are actively paying more and more to get into these crippled versions of games and even having the whole experience treated like an actual release without the right to criticism. Like early access excuses incompetence.

I think the most recent case that made me double take enough to cause whiplash was the Pathfinder Online announcement of their opening up to an early access period. Price point $100. I know a lot of companies have been charging extreme amounts lately but really, when did it become acceptable to pay so much for an untested, unfinished and unsatisfying experience… and far more than we would for a larger release? I know I fell for it a little the landmark announcement which served to show just how problematic it all is, luckily they are a decent company and were offering refunds. Giving input, which is often the reasoning for paying in is far harder and more disheartening than I thought with conversation mostly just getting railroaded and certain groups controlling the conversation. Developers seem to only really listen to ideas that match their own as well. For archeage the glorified QA tag didn’t even save it as they never really looked at or fixed much of the problems anyway, not to mention the old bait and switch of changing a lot of things for the release version.

Of course Pathfinder Online wants to take this a little further now and have you pay monthly for the privilege of being a glorified QA to as well, with an active subscription even in these early access time. Are they fucking serious? Really? A subscription during an alpha . That’s far far worse than paying a hundred dollars in order to play a ftp game earlier and approaching the stupidity of Pantheon and their charging for forum access. I’m rather astonished that such a thing even exists yet even more saddened by the fact that people will buy into it.

I know us gamers are a gullible population in general but it’s gone beyond a joke now. The breaking point was a long time ago now and the rest is just rubbing our face in the mess we’ve made but it’s time to stop yeh? I still feel kickstarter is at times a little different, your supporting ideas that couldn’t get made otherwise but even that place is getting corrupted by larger companies and names to get money they don’t actually need. Even once great companies and people like Double Fine are getting waylaid by these new model of free-unattached money.

I guess I’m over just feeling like a sucker, or a cow to be milked which is what most of my recent experiences seem to have become, especially within mmo’s and I don’t want to feel like that anymore. I get that money needs to happen, and that obviously companies need money to continue and people need to be paid but do we really need to go about doing it in this way. Do we need to constantly either hassle or manipulate people enough to pay. Do we need to continuously abuse once great systems or models of development for a greater gain… I think not even a greater gain. There has to be a breaking point here, and it seems I found mine.

I want to go back to when early access and beta events were just random rewards or giveaways rather than constantly dipping into my wallet. I want to go back to when a beta was just a glorified open beta type thing. That’s a bit silly but I just want more finished experiences now… at least a few more to maybe balance the early access games I am playing and enjoying.

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2 thoughts on “The Enterprise of Early Access

  1. $100 for early access to a game? It really has gotten ridiculous. I’ve never really been a fan of betas or early access – when I got beta access to a new WoW expansion I’d generally log in, look around then never go back. Why would I want to level, have all my progress wiped then level again? I guess Hearthstone was a bit different, but that game seemed complete for a long long time before it was officially released.

    I don’t really take part in the early access stuff now. Even if I back a game on KS and get beta access, I don’t use it. I want to play a finished game, not spoil the game by accessing a buggy version early. I also find it offensive that people are basically being asked to pay for the privilege of doing bug testing on a game. If a game company wants me to do quality assurance for them then they have to pay me, not the other way around.

    • I’m getting to that point now where I no longer want to play any more early access games. Well not for too long, just enough to check it out for a decent impression. The bugs and issues are bad enough but for mmo’s I find it better to save that investment for release.

      It is ridiculous what they are changing now though. I don’t understand where it went so wrong. And 100 seems to be an average these days which is the scariest thing ever. I regularly see packs 150 or more for early access stuff, and that’s on ftp stuff haha. Pathfinder and their subscription during alpha was a new low though.

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