Early Access Isn't Right for Every Game

Early Access Isn't Right for Every Game

Early Access is a great tool, but it can spoil a game when used incorrectly.

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I want to add that sometimes games seem to surprise us all; I thought ARK had blown it's load because everyone on the web had already showcased it as much as they were going to, but still it seems to have drawn enough sales now to make me reconsider.

Early Access isn't right for MOST games.

Beta tester is a PAID job. Expecting the world to beta test your game (or worse, pay YOU to beta test your game) is ludicrous.

Yahtzee hit the nail right on the proverbial head with this one.
One thing that I noticed immediately in the finished version of Layers of Fear is that the voice work for the Artist was redone. It was the same voice actor, and even the same dialogue, but the original proud, pompous and egotistical tone was replaced by a slightly more innocent and timid performance.
Understand, this is a character I should find difficult to like, a kind of sour glass of milk. Once refreshing but now hard to swallow. Instead, he was redone to be more likable.
Twas a bit disappointing, and perhaps an effect by Common Opinion pushed onto the developers post Early Access.

Thanatos2k:
Early Access isn't right for MOST games.

Beta tester is a PAID job. Expecting the world to beta test your game (or worse, pay YOU to beta test your game) is ludicrous.

I was a beta tester for STAR WARS: Battlefront II, and made $125.
What kind of testing is it called when an early version of a game is released for free, before the final version people have to pay for? I think that Ghost in the Shell multiplayer shooter did that, but the ship sailed on the free version.

Thanatos2k:
Early Access isn't right for MOST games.

Beta tester is a PAID job. Expecting the world to beta test your game (or worse, pay YOU to beta test your game) is ludicrous.

You say that, but a sizable portion of the good Early Access games that are worth anyone's time can't afford to pay anyone to beta test their game. A lot of them are paying for development with the funds they're getting from Early Access. Without it, a lot of really good games might have never come to pass. I think that's worth it.

Now if only Valve had in place a quality management team to filter out all of the damnable shovelware. That's pretty much my only real objection to the Early Access model as it stands.

Kajin:

Thanatos2k:
Early Access isn't right for MOST games.

Beta tester is a PAID job. Expecting the world to beta test your game (or worse, pay YOU to beta test your game) is ludicrous.

You say that, but a sizable portion of the good Early Access games that are worth anyone's time can't afford to pay anyone to beta test their game. A lot of them are paying for development with the funds they're getting from Early Access. Without it, a lot of really good games might have never come to pass. I think that's worth it.

Now if only Valve had in place a quality management team to filter out all of the damnable shovelware. That's pretty much my only real objection to the Early Access model as it stands.

How many early access games that have been actually good could not afford ANY beta testing? I've seen plenty of shoestring budget indie games get testing done without early access, they just do it with a much smaller amount of people.

Thanatos2k:
How many early access games that have been actually good could not afford ANY beta testing? I've seen plenty of shoestring budget indie games get testing done without early access, they just do it with a much smaller amount of people.

Damn near all the ones I've seen couldn't afford it starting out. Early Access is how a lot of them get their funds to begin with, so paying people to find bugs after they've already started would be all kinds of wasted resources that could actually go towards developing the game. It also defeats the purpose of paying to have a game tested if you can only afford to have a small pool of testers. You wouldn't be able to find enough bugs to justify the cost compared to what the much larger general audience will find simply by playing the game and having fun with it.

I think early access is a tool. It can work for most games if they employ it correctly. Constant updates and an open dialog between the developers is a necessity. Broforce and Prison Architect did great in early access. If only lazy developers would stop using for a cash grab.

Kajin:
so paying people to find bugs after they've already started would be all kinds of wasted resources that could actually go towards developing the game.

What? No. People buying early access are not beta testers. They have no obligation to actually find OR report bugs they do find. They might do it for free. They might do it without you asking them. Or probably not. They might be absolutely terrible at documenting and reporting bugs properly as well. They probably don't understand the value of reproducability. That's why you PAY people to do it, so it's their job to do only that.

I feel this way recently about Street Fighter 5 and Hitman, both are technically not in early access, but both are missing features and content which games have launched with for way over a decade. At some point publishers decided it's ok to release unfinished games, well it's not ok, it's original intention was for small teams or individuals to put out their projects so that they can get the support they need to finish their games, be that funding from selling early which if successful could lead to income from other investors or even a publishing deal, or support from players finding bugs and airing suggestions. This has been warped now by so many larger companies, the insane costs associated with modern game development is also to blame, but the system shouldn't be abused as much as it is.

Recent games which i think use early access well.
GRIP: I and many others really really liked Rollcage, unfortunately not enough to complete the kickstarter, the team moved to crowdfunding through their website with the promise of a Steam early access release which has been delivered, and the game has already received significant improvements, hopefully now they have the funding necessary to complete development of the game.
Factorio: A game i've only known about for a few days now, but looking back at its history it's clearly a labor of love for the developers (2 guys from the Czech Republic), a small but successful crowdfund lead to a Steam EA release, graphical and gameplay additions continue but the next biggest hurdle is implementing a reliable and easy to use multiplayer system, which after reading developer posts sounds like a nightmare.

Thanatos2k:
Early Access isn't right for MOST games.

Beta tester is a PAID job. Expecting the world to beta test your game (or worse, pay YOU to beta test your game) is ludicrous.

A fucking men! For smaller budget games that's one thing, but when every single major AAA publisher or developers start doing it, because they're too cheap to higher beta testers, then we have a huge problem.

cikame:
I feel this way recently about Street Fighter 5 and Hitman, both are technically not in early access, but both are missing features and content which games have launched with for way over a decade. At some point publishers decided it's ok to release unfinished games, well it's not ok, it's original intention was for small teams or individuals to put out their projects so that they can get the support they need to finish their games, be that funding from selling early which if successful could lead to income from other investors or even a publishing deal, or support from players finding bugs and airing suggestions. This has been warped now by so many larger companies, the insane costs associated with modern game development is also to blame, but the system shouldn't be abused as much as it is.

Recent games which i think use early access well.
GRIP: I and many others really really liked Rollcage, unfortunately not enough to complete the kickstarter, the team moved to crowdfunding through their website with the promise of a Steam early access release which has been delivered, and the game has already received significant improvements, hopefully now they have the funding necessary to complete development of the game.
Factorio: A game i've only known about for a few days now, but looking back at its history it's clearly a labor of love for the developers (2 guys from the Czech Republic), a small but successful crowdfund lead to a Steam EA release, graphical and gameplay additions continue but the next biggest hurdle is implementing a reliable and easy to use multiplayer system, which after reading developer posts sounds like a nightmare.

Except that isn't the case for Street Fighter V. Capcom could have either delayed the game for things like the story that barely anyone plays, or released the actual combat mode on time and add the story later for free. I'd rather have time to play the game, learn my combos and play with my friends and let the extra stuff come later.

monkeymangler:
Except that isn't the case for Street Fighter V. Capcom could have either delayed the game for things like the story that barely anyone plays, or released the actual combat mode on time and add the story later for free. I'd rather have time to play the game, learn my combos and play with my friends and let the extra stuff come later.

Friend*, the online lobby currently only supports 2 players.

cikame:

monkeymangler:
Except that isn't the case for Street Fighter V. Capcom could have either delayed the game for things like the story that barely anyone plays, or released the actual combat mode on time and add the story later for free. I'd rather have time to play the game, learn my combos and play with my friends and let the extra stuff come later.

Friend*, the online lobby currently only supports 2 players.

I play local a lot against my friends and my wife. We've run a couple tournaments to this point. And while online lobbies are one at a time, it has allowed me and my friend to run a couple dozen sets despite him being on PC and I'm on PS4. Neither of us cares about story mode except for the large amount of fight money you can get for it, so no story until later doesn't bother us.

monkeymangler:
I play local a lot against my friends and my wife. We've run a couple tournaments to this point. And while online lobbies are one at a time, it has allowed me and my friend to run a couple dozen sets despite him being on PC and I'm on PS4. Neither of us cares about story mode except for the large amount of fight money you can get for it, so no story until later doesn't bother us.

The fight money awarded for the story stuff at the moment is indeed generous, should be able to get that first dlc character to help fill out the meager roster, said character and future characters will also be available for purchase with real money for those who don't earn enough fight money, there are no unlockable costumes but all incoming costumes will be purchasable with real money also, colours are locked behind a survival mode with difficulty so high most players won't be able to get them, but that's ok because they'll offer other colours for real money in the future too... For a fighting game you paid full price for, don't you think this is absurd?
Let's compare it to a last gen fighting game, Tekken Tag 2, 59 characters, 10 were temporarily locked behind pre order dlc then given to everyone for free, all pre order exclusive clothing was then also unlocked for free, excellent netcode, large online lobbies, character clothing and hair customization including a colour palette allowing you to have any colour you want, online training mode, survival mode, ghost mode where you can fight recorded images of how other players fight, similar to KI's Shadow Training mode, that intriguing ComBot mode where you can create a character using other characters moves, a playable multi stage tutorial teaching new players the systems of Tekken, then all the other standard modes you'd expect including Arcade mode... which SF5 also didn't launch with, for the same price?
This got away from the original topic so i'll bring it around by saying SF5 most definately does not fit my requirements for a game not in early access, and has not earned the right to give people the option of buying its future content.

cikame:

monkeymangler:
I play local a lot against my friends and my wife. We've run a couple tournaments to this point. And while online lobbies are one at a time, it has allowed me and my friend to run a couple dozen sets despite him being on PC and I'm on PS4. Neither of us cares about story mode except for the large amount of fight money you can get for it, so no story until later doesn't bother us.

The fight money awarded for the story stuff at the moment is indeed generous, should be able to get that first dlc character to help fill out the meager roster, said character and future characters will also be available for purchase with real money for those who don't earn enough fight money, there are no unlockable costumes but all incoming costumes will be purchasable with real money also, colours are locked behind a survival mode with difficulty so high most players won't be able to get them, but that's ok because they'll offer other colours for real money in the future too... For a fighting game you paid full price for, don't you think this is absurd?
Let's compare it to a last gen fighting game, Tekken Tag 2, 59 characters, 10 were temporarily locked behind pre order dlc then given to everyone for free, all pre order exclusive clothing was then also unlocked for free, excellent netcode, large online lobbies, character clothing and hair customization including a colour palette allowing you to have any colour you want, online training mode, survival mode, ghost mode where you can fight recorded images of how other players fight, similar to KI's Shadow Training mode, that intriguing ComBot mode where you can create a character using other characters moves, a playable multi stage tutorial teaching new players the systems of Tekken, then all the other standard modes you'd expect including Arcade mode... which SF5 also didn't launch with, for the same price?
This got away from the original topic so i'll bring it around by saying SF5 most definately does not fit my requirements for a game not in early access, and has not earned the right to give people the option of buying its future content.

TTT2 also has a 59 character roster... but only around 12-14 are actually viable for tournament play because the roster balance is one of the worst in fighting games. Meanwhile, the only character not really viable for tournaments in SF5 is FANG.

Costumes and other cosmetics will be available for fight money as well (certain costumes will only be money purchases, but they are entirely cosmetic). Meanwhile, I have enough fight money at the moment to buy two characters, and once story drops I'll be able to get at least four total without spending a dime.

Survival isn't THAT hard either. Sure, beating it on normal will require you to practice the character a good chunk, but how is that a bad thing?

Do I wish SF5 had more stuff? Sure. But I would rather them release the versus and training mode early rather than delay the game for stuff few players care about.

This article applies so perfectly to Dark Souls III, I'm surprised it's not mentioned. I'm sure someone on this site could do an entire write-up concerning it's botched launch.

In addition to having a 3 week gap between the Jp and worldwide launch (the previous two FS games, DSII and BB, launched within days of each other), FS/NB made the questionable decision to give the game to dozens and dozens of streamers, 3 weeks in advance as well.

Compound this with the fact that any XBone owner can take advantage of a perfectly legal loophole to play the game, in english, right now.

The spoilers...the spoilers...(fade to black)

The community is already fractured, and people are going to be severely mismatched in PvP, come launch, particularly on the Xbone.

 

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