4 Factors to Consider When Buying an Early Access GameSep 13, 2020 | 0 Votes by Mikhail - rate When thinking of buying an early access game, there are a number of things you have to consider beforehand. Here are some of which:
Steam’s Early Access programs and similar others are currently a common practice in the game industry. These are essentially public betas, and in the case of paid games, you’ll have to pay to get in. So, in short, it’s like you are paying in order to test a game. Specific titles that are guilty of this are PUBG, Fortnite, DayZ, Kerbal Space Program, and the recently released Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord. Moreover, the early release build of No Man’s Sky was, without a doubt, definitely felt like an early access version.
The thing is, why in the world would you want to be someone who paid to become a beta tester? It doesn’t make a lot of sense at first, but you’re contributing to something big. After all, your feedback and the data you send back will contribute to making the game better and complete. However, before you throw your wallet and be given a mountain of regret and the label of “someone who makes questionable financial decisions,” there are a few factors and considerations you need to keep in mind.
A chance to get a game you’ve been looking forward to early
In my case, I jumped at the chance to pay $50 to dive into Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord, which is eight years into development, last spring. So far, only the epic battles and certain areas have been fully-fleshed out, with the diplomacy, immersion, and world-building still a little far behind. Despite the flaws and its incomplete state, players have spent more than 50+ hours in this High Middle Ages and Byzantine Empire-inspired sandbox.
So, why did I, along with more than 100,000 people, jump at the chance to dive into Calradia and try to save or destroy the Empire?
Well, it’s a chance to get the game early and finally scratch that Mount & Blade itch. As said earlier, the game had been in development for eight years, making the wait extraordinarily long and painful. Plus, its predecessor, Mount & Blade: Warband, had been over ten years old. Why wait when you can pay now and play immediately?
You’re helping developers and indie studios
Early Access and similar programs - and indie studios - in making the game better and complete. They rely on player feedback to solve issues, improve the gameplay, and even add more features. In the case of Bannerlord, players have been complaining about loading screens whenever you talk to characters on the map. The developers responded by removing the aforementioned issue.
The thing is, why help these developers and studios? Well, many of these studios aren’t part of the triple-A umbrella. As such, they may have funding issues that companies working with publishers like EA, Take-Two, and Sony don’t have. By paying early access, you’re actually funding the game’s development and ensuring the studio stays afloat and profitable.
Pick your games - and developers
So, let’s say you’re looking at a few games on early access to add to your list. Currently, there are quite a few ones on Steam. Apart from Bannerlord, these include Grounded, a survival game where you play as humans shrunk to the size of insects (one of the hottest games today), Satisfactory, which is a base-building resource management experience, and Gunfire Reborn, a quirky new first-person shooter.
When you buy a game on early access, it’s essential to look at the developers’ or studios’ track record. Questions to consider include:
- What are their previous games? Were they good?
- Do they have a good track record in terms of developing games on early access?
- Do they have unfinished projects?
With all these considered, it wouldn’t make sense to pay for an unfinished game made by a developer that spent an inordinate amount of time creating a subpar game, right? Moreover, they might have a track record in producing titles that may not fit your standards, and it would be better to wait for the finished product. After all, it’s your money on the line.
Most importantly, be sure to only spend cash on an early access title that you actually want or are looking forward to. After all, it’s your money on the line.
See what the state of the game is
Prior to buying, it would be best to first do a bit of reading and see what state the game is in. To do this, visit the game’s official site or Steam page, and take a good long read at the reviews, comments, and patch notes. After all, you might be planning on spending money on a game that is currently in an unplayable state.
Moreover, since early access games are mostly unfinished products that could take months or even a year or two to fully flesh out, it’s a smart move to learn its current features. Personally, I was bummed when Bannerlord’s diplomacy elements weren’t in a satisfactory state when I first played. Regardless, if the game you bought is still something you’d want to play, playing and seeing the game grow and go hands-on with the new features will make the experience worth it.