Digital distribution giant Steam today announced that they’d be selling games that use an Early Access business model.
Popularised by Minecraft, and taken up by many other indie developers the early access model involves paying for a games that are still in development. However this isn’t the same as preordering, as purchasing a game using this system will give you full access to the current version of the game. Often purchasing the game will also give indie devs much needed funding so that they can further polish their game.
Early Access is intended to give players input into early builds of the game, and so the titles that can be bought through this system will often be plagued by bugs and be missing many features. This is where players come in however, as the Early Access system allows the community to report bugs or otherwise give feedback on gameplay elements. Steam has aimed to streamline the feedback process, with games available through the Early Access store boasting a forum built into the client. Early Access games often feature changing price tags that generally increase as the game nears release, giving players another incentive to get in on the game early and start play-testing it.
Early Access has launched with 12 games listed: Arma 3, Kenshi, Kerbal Space Program, StarForge, Prison Architect, Kinetic Void, Gnomoria, Under the Ocean, Patterns, Gear Up: Premium, Drunken Robot and 1..2…3… Kick It! (Drop that Beat Like an Ugly Baby). Many of these games have been promoted by their developers in the past, with Early Access giving them a way to engage more players.