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Early Access?

JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 351
Baldur's Gate 3 has been the first game that I've ever gone in at during Early Access. It's still a full year or two out, so it's not surprising to me that it has a good number of problems and that many things are bound to change before final release. I won't get into the experience too much here, but with it I've had to readjust my thinking and playing style entirely different than playing any other game. I've become a tester, greatly involved in providing feedback and suggestions, blindly hoping that the developers might see and review any of it.

I'm curious if this is pretty standard for Early Access. Do most games that offer Early Access do so this far out? Of course, I'll expect to see lots of patches before final release, but I'm also curious how much of a game's content is normally available for Early Access. Are there any industry standards of what is normally made available for Early Access, as well as how much transparency and regular feedback I can expect to see?


  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876
    There are no real industry standards to an Early Access, no. Closest would be steam's EA guide. Some do it half a year prior to the actual release. Others have their title years in Early Access. Subnautica's EA phase was for instance over 4 years long. Luckily it came out after that and received much praises.

    Participating in any Early Access is a gamble. As consumers have no way of knowing if said game actually ever comes out or not. EA testers receive no more transparency than ony other consumer after all. The number of studios that shut down and left their games unfinished is quite staggering actually.

  • JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 351
    That's interesting, thank you. I played EverQuest, an MMORPG, on their test server for years. The developers there provided regular feedback and would often get directly involved with players/testers. I've liked how BeamDog developers also keep communication lines open. I won't ask for a refund for Baldur's Gate 3, and after reading your response, I probably won't ever go in for another Early Access, but I am interested to see how Larian, at least, will go about things. So far, I haven't seen any direct involvement with the community from the developers.

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 21,838
    Hey! Our Axis & Allies 1942 Online has been in Early Access for 1.5 years. Getting the game to Early Access means we can continue developing it based on the community feedback so that it would fit many players' tastes.

    Early Access is a chance for a developer to build a good relationship with the player base.

    I know there are stories about some unfinished broken Early Access products but everything comes down to the developer, their decency and quality. I think Early Access fits smaller companies.

  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876
    Early Access is a tool that, depending on its usage, yields either good or very bad results. That much is pretty apparent when reading Valve's official Early Access Documentation for developers. There are rules both publishers and developers are required to uphold for their Early Access title. But this sadly isn't always the case in reality.

    Honestly, it's no wonder why there are numerous consumer groups on steam like EAGAbuse pushing for stricter Early Access guidlines. The most common case of Early Access abuse I've encountered is either by developers offering a unplayable techdemo (in violation of Rule #6). Or marketing their game solely on upcoming/planned features: falsefying the present state of their game by a large marging (in violation of Rule #2).

    Less frequently, there are those studios that mistake Early Access for another form of crowdfunding. And fall flat pretty badly of their suspected sales figures to finance their game's developement. More often than not ending up shutting down as a consequence of their error. Sometimes such unfinished game titles get pulled from steam by the developers for one reason or another. Other times said games become effectively free to play even in their unfinished state. I saw both cases happening over the years.

    So, yeah. Early Access is indeed something to be carefully considered by both consumers and developers. Anything else would be downright irresponsible.

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