Prison Architects Produce Perfect Early Access Product
Prison Architect is being released in October. you may have seen or heard of Prison Architect before, this isn't surprising because it’s actually older than Early Access. Yes people were buying into the alpha for Prison Architect before Steam opened the doors for anyone to sell an unfinished game. And when Early Access did start back in March 2013, Prison Architect was one of the first games to use it.
I could go on at length about the faults of Early Access, and the buggy conjobs that unscrupulous developers constantly foist off on over eager gamers through it. But I’m not going to... Instead I’m going to talk about one of Early Accesses most legitimate successes - Prison Architect.
Early Access was created as a means for Indie developers to gain funding for their games while still in development. The gaming world was clearly ready for this step after Minecraft’s very visible success which was made possible by selling its own public alpha (more about this in the “Minecraft Story” article coming soon).
Indeed many gamers were looking around for more indie projects being funded this way, and as mentioned Prison Architect was one of them. So it was a smart move by Steam, to get in on this emerging market and even tempt many existing projects under its mantle, where it could provide needed exposure and legitimacy, and of course take its percentage from each project too.
By October this year, Prison Architect will have been in Early Access for over two and a half years. Right from the start the developers Introversion Software (also responsible for other brilliant games like Darwinia) made it very clear to customers, the unfinished status of their game, even going as far as posting a trailer boasting about the the many bugs to be found. However even with its bugs, incompleteness, and placeholders, Prison Architect has continued to catch gamers imaginations and continued to be very playable and fun.
But not only has Prison Architect attracted many players with the promise of designing and managing a prison, it has attracted and encouraged many modders too, and now you build prisons for the American military, for the Emperor (Warhammer 40K), and even for the Imperials (Star Wars), not to mention many many other mods that improve quality of life or add new multiple features.
Even if you’re not interested in modding you can still use the Workshop to share and test yours and many others prison designs. Some people have even used this to create works of art!
Two and a half years, is a long time to stay in early access, but again Introversion where clear to customers that they intended to stay in early access for a long time, indeed management games are very complex to make so this isn't surprising. but during this time, not only have they produced regular and game changing updates, but they have continued to add and tweaked features from player feedback too.
I recently mentioned how Victor Vran had performed a near perfect use of the Early Access program, well despite spending two years longer on the program, and despite being an entirely different kind of game I have to stay that Prison Architect's use of Early Access has been nearly perfectly exercised too. And if you need more proof, it has nearly 13k reviews on Steam that still giving it a 93% rating!