As a PC gamer, I’ve always been extremely appreciative of Valve’s Steam service. Being able to install, manage, purchase, and launch games all from one singular place is an incredible thing that has completely changed how gamers play their games. Gone are the days when you’d have to insert a game disk just to be able to boot up and play a game, and it’s become easier and cheaper to build a good gaming PC. Basically, life is good for PC gaming.
But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops in PC Master Race land. While Steam has brought an amazing service to gamers everywhere, that same welcoming and easy to use service has also made it easy for developers and publishers to release games as an early access release. Now it’s not always a bad thing, there have been plenty of games that have been released as an early access or beta test that have ended up being fantastic games, but sometimes when a developer or publisher does this, it’s less about offering a wonderful product or working with the community to iron out technical issues than it is about making money as soon as possible off of an unfinished product.
Now I’ve bought plenty of games on early access. Titles like Planetary Annihilation, Starbound, and Rust. These games have had a couple issues, some more so than others, but if you don’t really mind dealing with an unfinished release then you may want to just buy the game as soon as you can and play it. Even if it is technically not yet fully released.
I get that line of thinking, and you’d be forgiven for wanting to follow through with it, but is it really the best way to support a developer? There are plenty of games on early access on Steam that have very conflicted reviews. The gameplay might seem tight and well crafted, or the idea might be so cool that it could be forgiven for releasing the game on early access. But when you get in you find out that it might have next to no content, or the game just numerous game breaking glitches. But it’s fine because it’s early access right?
Well, I don’t really think that’s the case. It’s kind of like getting halfway through making a sandwich and deciding to eat it. Even if later on you have a handful of lettuce and a spoonful of mayonnaise, it didn’t really get rid of the fact that the lunch-meat and mustard sandwich you just had was really disappointing, and now you’re just feeling kind of weird because you ate lettuce and mayonnaise.
Of course, all of this griping and groaning that I’m doing is really quite opinionated. If you want to go buy a game on early access that’s your choice. I can’t really stop you, considering I’m just some gamer writing for a blog on the internet. But I would like to urge us gamers as consumers of game developers everywhere to consider what kind of investment we’re making in early access. Take a look at what’s really happening in the early access versions of the games you’re considering. See if they’re lunch-meat and mustard sandwiches, or if there’s actually a little more thought and substance put into them.