A decade later, Early Access is still a big mess

Steam’s early access program is sort of nearly a decade old and launched in 2013. Billed as a way for gamers to help shape games through feedback and testing, but also as a way for developers to finance their games, there have always been tensions. Individual studios have their own ideas about their purpose, as do players, creating a mess of shattered expectations and confusing messages. Even now that Early Access is the new norm, it defies consensus.

Let’s start by fixing this problem: I think early access is often a good thing. Allowing gamers to experience the development process first-hand helps demystify game making, it provides developers with vital feedback, and it’s been a huge boon to indies, allowing them to secure funding without publisher interference.

(Image credit: Larian)

Look what it did for Larian Studios. After leveraging his community first through Kickstarter and then through early access, he was able to make his biggest hit and then an even bigger hit, which resulted in the developer being handed the reins of Baldur’s Gate 3 It is now one of the most important RPG developers on the planet.

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