There has been some buzz lately about Steam allowing buyers Early Access to some titles. What does this mean? You get to own and play the game while it is still in development. When the game is fully released, you already have the full copy to play as you normally would. Sounds like a great deal if you ask me, but why are some people calling it a risk?

Well that really boils down to how you see the process. Yes, you could be dumping money into a game that turns out to be a giant flop. And there is obviously the possibility that you don’t like the game, simple as that. But aren’t these ‘risks’ you run into with every game you decide to buy? At least with this process, you can give feedback to the developers while they are making the game to gently nudge the future of the game to what you want it to be.

I recently picked up Damned in its Early Access stage because it seemed like there was a lot of potential. For those of you unaware, Damned is a survival horror game in which there are four human survivors and one monster. All five roles are played by people and presents the ability to really screw with your friends in a very creepy way.

The survivors are quite literally helpless. All you get is a flashlight and the ability to sprint. Your job is to escape. Seems simple right? Well the monster has two forms: a spirit version and a physical version. In spirit mode, you can’t see any of the survivors, doors, or anything else that might give away where they are, but you move very fast and can set sound traps to figure it out. In physical form you can see it all and swipe the survivors with your claws to kill them, but you move slow as molasses. You need to be clever about how you go about your murderous rampage.

The game is still in Alpha and I’ve been bombarding the developers with comments and requests that I think will make the game better. Possibly some other monster versions with different skills. Maybe different, randomized models so the survivors are unaware of what to run away from the first time you materialize in front of them. Maybe a custom map editor if they’re feeling generous…

The ability to interact directly with the people making the game and possibly alter its direction is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in gaming in white a while. Hopefully, as this game moves out of Alpha and into Beta/Release, I’ll be able to see some of my suggestions manifest themselves in different aspect.

So is getting the Early Access of a game worth the ‘risk’? Yeah, I’d say so… if you take advantage of what it grants you.

About The Author

Matt Somerville

Matt grew up gaming from a early age, just soaking in the whole experience of it. Now he works as a Biomedical Engineer while maintaining a personal YouTube channel dedicated to gaming and science at http://www.youtube.com/passthepi.

One Response

  1. Alexander Bradley
    Alexander Bradley

    Hey Matt, a nice look at early access.

    I have to agree with you, since Desura started doing early access games before Steam, I’ve loved them. Yes you may get ripped off or the end game may not be what you want. But the majority of the ones I’ve invested in have turned out to be fantastic games. I see it as a similar process as Kickstarter, using public money to fund and expand a small developers options and resources. I think you summed up the good and bad points well and the amount of games now hitting Steam’s early access has increased so I would say it must do well to draw developers to it.

    Reply

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