Steam’s early access programme is somehow nearly a decade old, launching back in 2013. Pitched as a way for players to help shape games through feedback and testing, but also as a way for developers to fund their games, there’s always been tension. Individual studios have their own ideas about what purpose it serves, and so do players, creating a mess of ruined expectations and confusing messaging. Even now that early access is the new normal, it defies consensus. 

Let’s get this out of the way first: I think early access is often a good thing. Letting players experience the development process first hand helps demystify the creation of games, it provides developers with vital feedback, and it’s been a huge boon for indies, allowing them to get funding without publisher interference. 

(Image credit: Larian)

Just look at what it’s done for Larian Studios. After leveraging its community first through Kickstarter and then via early access, it was able to make its biggest hit, and then an even greater hit, which culminated in the developer being given the reins of Baldur’s Gate 3. Now it’s one of the most important RPG developers on the planet. 

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By nmybx

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