Valve Introduces Early Access Games Program

Fanghawk

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Valve Introduces Early Access Games Program

Steam now has full support for alpha and beta releases, complete with developer announcements and user feedback.

There once was a time when games were considered "complete", meaning developers crafted the best possible experience within a single release. Digital distribution effectively ended that system, for better or worse, but the early release schedule provides a lucrative upside. Popularized by Minecraft, this model makes a game available in its alpha or beta state, letting customers play early while developers gain invaluable feedback for further updates. It's a system increasingly being used <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/122388-Arma-3-Will-Get-a-Free-Alpha>by established and <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/122760-Kickstarter-Hit-Legend-of-Dungeon-Available-for-10>indie developers alike, so naturally, Valve Software wants to bring the experience to Steam. The digital publisher has recently announced its Early Release program, allowing gamers to purchase alpha and beta releases while developers take advantage of Steam Community feedback reports.

On Steam's Store page, users can find Early Access titles conveniently linked under the Games Tab. The current release list is fairly small, but includes everything from indie titles like StarForge and Kerbal Space Program to Bohemia Interactive's Arma III alpha. Once the player finds an early release they like, it can be purchased (or in some cases, played for free) and discussed within game-specific comment boards. Thanks to Steam's update process, early release developers can use these comments to implement quick bug fixes, at which point the process repeats itself.

As cliched as Valve success stories have become, it's hard to imagine the Early Release Program being anything but. The alpha release model several titles are already available to play and test.

Source: Joystiq

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GAunderrated

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Only problem I could see happen is massive debates on what qualifies as a finish product and what would be in the Early Access section. I know it is ultimately up to the developers to decide whether it is content complete or not but that wont stop gamers from still complaining that certain games belong there.
 

Fanghawk

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WTF at some of the games

"Drunken Robot Pornography."
"Drop that beat like an ugly baby!"

Kinetic Void looks snazy though! And I already have Kenshi..I wonder if I can get a steam key for it from the developer
 

WhiteTigerShiro

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GAunderrated said:
Only problem I could see happen is massive debates on what qualifies as a finish product and what would be in the Early Access section. I know it is ultimately up to the developers to decide whether it is content complete or not but that wont stop gamers from still complaining that certain games belong there.
Eh, won't be much of a change from the current norm. Gamers will complain about how a game was released "before it was finished" plenty as it is. If there's even one slight tiny hiccup, the game is apparently still in it's Alpha stages according to most gamers.
 

thesilentman

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Jun 14, 2012
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So... it's like the state DOTA's in? If not, it isn't really that new of a concept. The idea behind it is pretty neat though, and I hope to see some more good games in the future.

Crap, I'm going to have all my time sucked away it seems. x-D
 
Jan 27, 2011
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Huh. Nifty!

Good on Valve for jumping on this, I guess. I don't see myself participating on anything that doesn't have a free alpha, but still, it's cool to have.
 

Fanghawk

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Callate said:
Yay! I get to pay to be a beta tester!

...Wait...
Or as they're more commonly know: People who buy Bethesda games on the initial release date
Desert Punk said:
WTF at some of the games

"Drunken Robot Pornography."
"Drop that beat like an ugly baby!"
I'm already infantuated!
 

cwmdulais

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this is pretty dam awesome, im already thinking about dropping some cash for Under The Ocean 0-o
 

Elate

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Kerbal Space Program <3 I love ye. Awaiting for the devs to release the steam keys to preexisting customers, so I can have that gem sitting on my steam library.

Desert Punk said:
WTF at some of the games

"Drunken Robot Pornography."
"Drop that beat like an ugly baby!"

Kinetic Void looks snazy though! And I already have Kenshi..I wonder if I can get a steam key for it from the developer
Having played Kinetic Void's alpha/beta ship builder, I can say that is has some pretty fantastic ideas. A lot of games tried to do the whole Minecraft in space, but failed due to doing with the concept of blocks, this does it pretty well, I'll be interested to try the full game.
 

ritchards

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Nov 20, 2009
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"Hey, let's release some early build, get some money... then never do anything with it again!"

So, how quickly before big publishers use this to 'test the market'? (...if they aren't already...)
 

Fanghawk

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Desert Punk said:
WTF at some of the games

"Drunken Robot Pornography."
"Drop that beat like an ugly baby!"

Kinetic Void looks snazy though! And I already have Kenshi..I wonder if I can get a steam key for it from the developer
Honestly, the only one that really made me pause was the last one.

Why? Because, for the bloody life of me, I know I have seen "1-2-3, drop that beat like an ugly baby" on Steam well before this Early Access program ever came to be. In fact, I had contemplated grabbing it a few times during the major sales Steam would run over the past couple years.


So what the frack is it doing in early access now...?!
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Awesome, love this. Makes sense they would do it too, considering how successful Minecraft was with this system, they're smart to make a system where another success like that is possible, only this way they get to reap some of that money.

Kenshi looks like it's a sort of hardcore Mount and Blade. Do want, very much.
 

lRookiel

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Jun 30, 2011
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Desert Punk said:
WTF at some of the games

"Drunken Robot Pornography."
"Drop that beat like an ugly baby!"

Kinetic Void looks snazy though! And I already have Kenshi..I wonder if I can get a steam key for it from the developer
I was looking at Kenshi, it looks pretty good. It good for an alpha?
 

thethird0611

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This is a great and bad idea.

Its a great idea because companies who are consumer focused are going to make freaking awesome games with the feedback of people who play the alpha's. Im playing the ARMA alpha right now, but the whole alpha is serious feedback based. You find a bug? You find the file the file that records everything about the game during gameplay and submit it. Thing you have a great idea for a feature? Post it on the forums.

Now, the bad idea. Publishers. I dont hate publishers by any means, but for most of them, I can see them trying to get away with selling a beta full price and not fully delivering cus, well, they just made a profit right there. Not 100% sure this would happen, but with how publishers thought they may be able to get money out of kickstarter (luckily I dont think they tried), id be worried with buying their games in beta.
 

Fanghawk

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lRookiel said:
Desert Punk said:
WTF at some of the games

"Drunken Robot Pornography."
"Drop that beat like an ugly baby!"

Kinetic Void looks snazy though! And I already have Kenshi..I wonder if I can get a steam key for it from the developer
I was looking at Kenshi, it looks pretty good. It good for an alpha?
I have been having fun with it, but this is not an alpha or beta like some AAAs call it, it is really an alpha, and at times you can tell :p
 

VanQ

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DVS BSTrD said:
Callate said:
Yay! I get to pay to be a beta tester!

...Wait...
Or as they're more commonly know: People who buy Bethesda games on the initial release date
Damn it, I've been one of those people since I bought Morrowind on release day. B-but Skyrim is the last time I'll fall for that! I swear!
 

Fanghawk

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VanQ said:
DVS BSTrD said:
Callate said:
Yay! I get to pay to be a beta tester!

...Wait...
Or as they're more commonly know: People who buy Bethesda games on the initial release date
Damn it, I've been one of those people since I bought Morrowind on release day. B-but Skyrim is the last time I'll fall for that! I swear!
Just tell me you at least got it for PC and not console!
 

Fanghawk

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Feb 17, 2011
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DVS BSTrD said:
VanQ said:
DVS BSTrD said:
Callate said:
Yay! I get to pay to be a beta tester!

...Wait...
Or as they're more commonly know: People who buy Bethesda games on the initial release date
Damn it, I've been one of those people since I bought Morrowind on release day. B-but Skyrim is the last time I'll fall for that! I swear!
Just tell me you at least got it for PC and not PS3!
Fixed in bold. Xbox 360 was fine, the PS3 version on the other hand...I don't need to beat a dead horse do I?
 

Fanghawk

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Jove said:
DVS BSTrD said:
VanQ said:
DVS BSTrD said:
Callate said:
Yay! I get to pay to be a beta tester!

...Wait...
Or as they're more commonly know: People who buy Bethesda games on the initial release date
Damn it, I've been one of those people since I bought Morrowind on release day. B-but Skyrim is the last time I'll fall for that! I swear!
Just tell me you at least got it for PC and not PS3!
Fixed in bold. Xbox 360 was fine, the PS3 version on the other hand...I don't need to beat a dead horse do I?
Wasn't 'beating a dead horse' one of the bugs? :p