Steam Begins Early Access Service - Funding Games in Development

Funding in-development titles could go one way or the other for you, to be totally honest.

Yesterday marked Steam's first day of its new Early Access program, which gives select titles a chance to receive additional funding during development. Games in their alpha or beta phases can be found among the Early Access listings, including Arma 3, Prison Architect, and Kerbal Space Program.

Steam makes it very clear that the titles being offered aren't necessarily finished, but purchasing them while in the development phase will give access through the alpha and beta phases as well as release. Some titles have multiple purchase options with benefits, while others are a single price with no tiers.

Do keep in mind that the products found in the Early Access program are going to have bugs and they are going to crash. Having played Gnomoria, which is on the list of games being funded, I can tell you that some of the issues can be a huge hindrance to actually playing the titles you pick up mid-development. Reporting bugs and aiding in the improvement of these games is part of the fun, even if it makes you want to punch something.

Associate Editor

Ogryns are good lads. Simple as. Anyway, I'm basically a human tornado and I love jank. Also simple as.

Published Mar. 29th 2013
  • RAVaught
    Featured Contributor

    I absolutely agree. If you use this model then there needs to be some accountability and transparency. In that since, it is no different than having shareholders, except that in this case the share holders have no final say so in the product. They can suggest, not demand.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor

    It's basically the model that Notch succeeded with when developing Minecraft. Though to say he used the system to its utmost efficiency would be giving him too much credit (I could go on for a while on this topic, so I'll stop!).

    Giving gamers the ability to fund and help mold these indie titles is a step in the right direction for the industry, in my opinion. Developers who would not be able to finish their projects otherwise are getting the funding for these games they actually want to work on and see finished, which is great. As it stands, the industry needs more diversity -- big publisher's titles just aren't cutting it in the imagination or diversity department anymore. For the most part, anyway.

    MMORPGs are sort of shifting in the same direction, with many games in closed beta offering founder's packs for additional funding. This is something I'm not too positive on, because many of them have publishers with at least some capital. Those that actually need that extra funding are far and few between, but we see more and more picking up that version of the "early access funding" model.

    One needs to be careful when funding games still in development, is what I guess I'm getting at. Even when funding indie titles, it's important to do your research to make sure the developer is going to use the funds as advertised. It's a step in the right direction, if not abused.
  • RAVaught
    Featured Contributor
    When I first read this, I was skeptical, so I sat back and thought about it a bit. The more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. Developers get up front, ongoing funding and free word of mouth pre-release advertising. They also gain access to an vested group of alpha/beta testers that have a financial interest in seeing the game succeed. Gamer's get an opportunity to be involved in the development process and access to demo's of the games for a reasonable rate, along with the potential for other perks like a free or substantially discounted version of the full game. It is a win win for everyone.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor

    I've played both, and Gnomoria is very similar. That said, it's a bit more simple and relies more on digging into mountains than Towns does. The controls are also less of a burden. Both are pretty entertaining.
  • Clay
    Featured Contributor
    Gnomoria looks like a straight clone of Towns.
  • Jeremy
    Kenshi and Prison Architect look really interesting.

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