Steam Early Access Done Right

One man’s cash funds another man’s dream.

Steam early access

What is Early Access?
Get immediate access to games that are being developed with the community’s involvement. These are games that evolve as you play them, as you give feedback, and as the developers update and add content.

Hmm, I really didn’t have to explain that.

Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Steam’s Early Access has been around for quite some time. While Kickstarter and IndieGoGo isn’t strictly limited to video game development, a few critically acclaimed releases have them to thank for their roaring success.

  • Double Fine Adventure – Created by Double Fine Productions and accompanied by 2 Player Productions documentary, “Double Fine Adventures” faced a severe lack of funds that might have caused almost 50% of the game’s proposed content to be scraped. And 2 Player lacked the ability to fund the film, so the two companies elected to crowd-fund the project on Kickstarter, raising almost $3,000, 000. Their initial goal was $400, 000.
  • Shadowrun Returns – Due to restrictions on the license, Harebrain Industries could not obtain the backing of other publishers for new Shadowrun projects. Left high and dry without sufficient funds, Harebrain Industries decided to turn to crowd-funding to realise their dreams.The project was opened to pledges in March 2012 and met its funding goal of $400,000 within 28 hours on Kickstarter before closing it on close to $2,000,000. Shadowrun Returns received generally favorable reviews upon release, garnering 7.5+/10 from multiple reviewer sites.
  • Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards! & Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie – Created in honor of Toby Turner and James Rolfe(AVGN) respectively, these Youtube sensations found their way into becoming forever digitized in their own video games. The funding campaigns were carried out on IndieGoGo, each surpassing their initial goal and received more than twice the amount in funding.

Early supporters of the IndieGoGo and Kickstarter campaigns would usually receive the game at a cheaper price alongside with exclusive in-game content. “Backers” who donate larger sums may be entitled to special collectibles, apparel or similar merchandise. Of course there are some frauds and some campaigns that went sour, but we’ll leave that for another day.

Double Fine kickstarter rewards

The difference between crowd-funding platforms and Steam’s Early Access is that there is no “minimum” funding that the backers have to beat in order for the products to be delivered. And most of the games on Steam’s Early Access would actually instantly unlock the game download for you without having to wait.

It can get a little messy.

Similar crowd-funding platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, the worry that the developers would just “take the money and run” is valid. The thing about funding such campaigns is that this is essentially a gamble – there is hundred percent guarantee that you’d get a refund should the project fail or if the product is unsatisfactory. As such, its actually unwise to pump funds into what could be a financial black hole, and that such blind funding should only be left to those with disposable income.

But in all honesty, games on crowd-funding campaigns is actually beneficial to both the consumer and the developer – the consumer usually purchases the Early Access game at a cheaper price than its projected retail, and the purchase helps bring the game to release.

“Backers” have to bear in mind that there will inevitably be risks involved, and with proper inspection you can decide for yourself whether such risks are great or minuscule, and henceforth whether it is worth a shot.There’s often ways to distinguish between deliberate exploitation and legitimate business. Most independent game developers often disregard the importance of transparency, you can’t sell your products on screenshots and cinematic cutscences alone, we’d expect actually game-play footage at the very least.

Praise for Haunted Memories

Play the first episode for free, and if you like it, stay tuned for the 2nd episode.

Haunted memories

If you dug through the older threads in the forum discussion for Haunted Memories, you’d find that the game started out as highly unsatisfactory – random crashes, unstable FPS and numerous glitches. Thankfully, unlike some other developers’ unscrupulous attempts in hiding any negative reactions to the game, they have continued to work on the game and produced a relatively stable release just 2 months ago.

As much as I wish other Early Access games would do this, it’s not that easy to split your game up into multiple playable sections, especially when it is already in a later stage of development. It would be inane to rebuild the game from the start just so you could roll out a demo of sorts.

So, betas.

Some of us have seen how (although playable) much of a mess Battlefield 4 has been during the Open Beta. The game was so horribly optimized that it breaks my heart to even go through it again.

And so some of us didn’t buy it, and the rest who did believe that E.A would go around and patch things up before the final release. Which was, for the record, a plausible expectation. Well, I decided it wasn’t worth taking the risk and held back on my purchase.

Battlefield 4 bugs

The problem with Early Access Games as it now stands is that some of these games are ridiculously strict in the information flow. As it is rather inane to expect users to back a game made by a lesser-known developer, backers should also demand to lift the veil of secrecy some of these games have shrouded themselves in.

Although the post has been the driven mainly by thought processes formed after playing and reading about Haunted Memories, it strikes that there is a ridiculously low amount of words on it. That is because you can actually try it here.

And I’d like to say a “Thank you” to the developers of Haunted Memories for giving us a fair chance to review your work.
It has definitely been a great experience and is very good at raising heart rates abruptly.


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