Thursday, 9 June 2016

In defense of Early Access

So the Pre-Alpha of Skorian Tales has been out for 1 week and it gave me an idea for a new blog post, how about we talk about early access?

Before you run off hissing at the early access model, give me a chance to strike up a defense. The pre-alpha release of Skorian Tales has given us a chance to find out what players think of the core gameplay mechanics of the game long before a commercial release. We see a great future with the early access model, working with the community to build the best possible mobile role playing game that we can. If you’d like to help us out you can play the game on Android and/or the web. Feedback is anonymous and if constructive can be very useful for us going forward.

Lets draw on a famous example of early access done well, Minecraft. With the classic version released back in May 2009 followed by the Alpha in June 2010, Minecraft slowly began to develop a larger and larger audience with Markus “Notch” Persson finally able to work full time on the development of the game later in it’s life. With each update players were able to give direct input about the latest features and the large community was able to construct the best version of the game possible. Now with over 23 million registered users Minecraft has grown significantly since its 2009 development version.

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There are many companies out there that strive to make the best game possible by building the it up over time with a community of users, but the overuse and manipulation of the early access model makes it harder and harder for those companies to survive. Horror stories from sites like Kickstarter tell tales of people contributing to projects and seeing no reward from it. However, in some cases the early access model can be the only way an indie developer can get their game released. Revenue generated early on means these developers can keep themselves afloat so the game they pour their souls into has a greater chance to be completed.



The game itself benefits greatly from the early access model with the player’s ability to contribute ideas this may lead to an improved player experience. The players also act as a focus group for bug testing, giving the developer the chance to implement fixes to improve the game’s functionality.

There are also benefits to the players themselves, not only do they get the chance to contribute to the game itself and help build what the final version will be, but many early access games give the player exclusive rewards for being involved. This may be as simple as an exclusive item or the ability or to just get the game at a cheaper price.

There is always going to be a risk with the early access model but in my opinion the positives will always outweigh the negatives. If you feel differently you can leave a comment. I’m interested to know your thoughts on this topic.

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Thanks for reading,
Stephen.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week” — George Patton