If you were to pick up an old SNES game cartridge today and power it on, you’d find that the game has not changed since its initial release. Back in those days, when a game was released that was its final form. There were no updates to be added and any “new content” came in the form of a sequel.
Digital games and the internet have added so much to video games in the form of updates, patches, fixes and DLC (Downloadable Content). Today, games are supported long after their release with everything from small tweaks to total overhauls in gameplay.
The latest trend is releasing an unfinished build of a game so that players can help during the end of the development process. This is known as Early Access, and we’ve seen it done with many games lately.
What is Early Access?
According to Steam, Steam Early Access enables you to sell your game on Steam while it is still being developed, and provide context to customers that a product should be considered “unfinished.” Early Access is a place for games that are in a playable alpha or beta state, are worth the current value of the playable build, and that you plan to continue to develop for release.
Releasing a game in Early Access helps set the context for prospective customers and provides them with information about your plans and goals before a “final” release.
Why Early Access?
There are many benefits to releasing in Early Access — when done right. The main one is building a community behind your game before it’s even finished. These early adopters are excited to be part of the development cycle, providing feedback as they play and “test” the game.
Today, every game has a website, multiple social media profiles, and a discord server. It is now so simple for game developers to share their journey with the fans. Many developers take to Kickstarter to collect funding for their game and share the entire journey with backers.
Early Access: The Series
Why is this post called Early Access: The Series?
Over the past few months, I have been following a few different titles in Early Access on Steam. My goal is to watch how they evolve and take notes. I want to see what they become at full release, and how that differs from the game’s early days.
The first of these games moving from Early Access to Full Release is Rogue Legacy 2, and that is happening today. I plan to play some of the full release after watching some of it’s Early Access journey of almost two years in length.
Stay tuned tomorrow (or next week) for my thoughts on the full release and Early Access journey of Rogue Legacy 2.
More games to come late on…