Steam Gets New Early Access Guidelines
Now, if you are like me, you are the kind of person who will be 5 seconds from buying a game out of intrigue because it seems like a unique and seemingly fun to play, only to lose any sort of interest due to having spotted those two little words on the store page: "Early Access." It's no secret that, in its current state, Early Access is nothing but a dumping ground for not even close to being half finished games, that may or may not ever be fully completed or very likely never have what's promised. Even the very idea of selling a game that is unfinished with absolutely nothing stopping a developer from closing up shop and pocketing the sales money has never left a good taste in my mouth.
Thankfully, Steam may seek to change it for the better with its new rules and guidelines for developers seeking to launch on the early access platform.
The rules are as follows:
-If you are selling keys through a third party, they must be marked as "Early Access"
Basically so the buyer won't be tricked into purchasing what they think is a full game, only to be greeted with Early Access
-Do not make specific promises on things that will be added in the future
This is to stop the trend of "We're gonna add this!" only for them not to do so.
-Non-Steam versions must not unlock sooner than Steam versions, nor should they cost any less
This is more for consistency.
Next we have the guidelines, which are more suggestions:
-Don't Launch on Early Access if you can't afford to develop with very few to no sales
Basically, don't force your customers to have to buy an unfinished game to get it finished. If you want to fund a game in progress, take it to Kickstarter
-Make sure you set expectations properly everywhere you talk about your game.
Let people know what they are getting into with your unfinished game
-Don't launch in Early Access without a playable game.
It's one thing for an Early Access game to be unfinished, but it needs to at least be playable
-Don't launch in Early Access if you are done with development.
Early Access isn't for doing final beta testing.
Anyway, my thoughts on it? Is it a step in the right direction? Yes. Do I think that there should be even more quality control? Double yes. Do I think Early Access can ever truly be saved? No. Customers being willing to buy games in an unfinished state is a bubble. Eventually, people will get tired of getting burned from the roulette wheel that is Early Access games and stop buying them all together until they reach a finished state.