Up For Debate - How do you feel about Early Access games?

Written by Chad Norton on Sat, Oct 3, 2020 5:00 PM
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Video games have come a long way since the early days of pong, and not just in terms of graphics, but also how they are actually developed. One of the biggest new innovations in digital distribution is Early Access, and since it's been a while since the first time it happened, we wanted to get a general idea of how everyone feels about Early Access titles now? Has the distribution strategy improved since it began? What else can be done to make it better?

I mainly bring this up this weekend for 2 reasons: first of all, more and more games are now being released in some variety of Early Access with the majority of them being indie games, and a lot of them seeing great success. Hades recently sold 1 million copies after launching out of Early Access, and more than half of those sales were during Early Access.

So it's clearly doing something at least, and it seems like the success rate of Early Access titles is growing larger and larger with less games being totally abandoned (I could be wrong here, but it sure seems like it's getting better). Is Early Access seeing more success then? Why is that so? And if not, then why as well?

But the second reason, and the main reason to be honest, is the recent news of CD Projekt Red now having six-day work weeks in order to get Cyberpunk 2077 ready for the November 19th release date, which has obviously caused quite a bit of controversy when it comes to workplace “crunch.”

But a few comments from that article we reported suggested that either the developers should delay the game’s release date or knock off $10 from the price tag and launch it as an Early Access title. Which got me thinking: could this style of distribution work? More and more AAA games are released and unfinished but they're so desperate to get them out the door that maybe this would help curb complaints about being unfinished, or unpolished, or just generally buggy on release.

If CDPR did launch Cyberpunk 2077 in Early Access to give players the game whilst they finish up on polishing it, should they release the whole thing? Or just parts of it to avoid spoilers?

So would you be interested in an Early Access version of Cyberpunk 2077? Even if it was generally finished but with lots of bugs? Would that break immersion for you? And could that strategy even work? And what are your feelings on Early Access games in general? Let’s debate!

How do you feel about Early Access games in general?

Would you play an Early Access version of Cyberpunk 2077?

Do bugs and general unpolish negatively affect your experience with Early Access games?

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09:43 Oct-05-2020

early access makes sense for Indie Games or Games of a much smaller scope from smaller studios. early access is a superb way to test out your games. Not only for bugs but game design and mechanics wise. also its a perfect way to test out fe

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09:45 Oct-05-2020

Features which are kinda expensive to develop due to resource allocation. as with Early access you can tell how many players will accutly use it and if it provides the Return On Investment. and lets be honest some games from some studios we

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09:47 Oct-05-2020

know for sure are gonna rock and its sorta like getting access to the game before release with A really good discount. i saved alot of money this way. BUT YES DEVELOPMENT HELL IS REAL and so are SCAMS so beware! read reviews before diving i

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09:49 Oct-05-2020

diving in and spending your money.
But Like i said Early Access only for Indie and small size studios not for EA, UBISOFT, MICROSOFT for them it is called game as a service they have a roadmap to follow. early access is Evolving with Playe

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09:51 Oct-05-2020

Player Feedback and doing things not previously planned but now being done due to player requests or a reaction to their actions.

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07:36 Oct-05-2020

IMO: Its a Plague on Gaming

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21:54 Oct-04-2020

like the idea of it for multiplayer games but not really any logic behind a single player early access

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00:00 Oct-05-2020

Early access is great for finding bugs in SP games.

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14:50 Oct-04-2020

Early Access started with good intentions: to get the community committed and involved in a game to provide feedback on project's unfinished status in order to help carry it the final stretch. Unfortunately, several developers have abused this "system" and either kept their games in Early Access to avoid criticism for shoddy work while they make money or straight up abandoned projects once they got money coming in. Personally, I learrned not to invest in Early Acces anymore

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12:10 Oct-04-2020

We might end up playing a late stage EA version of CP2077 anyway. The Witcher 3 had an alternate control scheme added, all its menus overhauled and a dozen patches after release. On one hand CDPR should be commended for listening to their customers but on the other hand a game that's released should be in its final state with only bug and performance patches required post-launch.

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13:34 Oct-04-2020

I would disagree, because doing development with small closed group is way different than doing development with community feedback. And don't get me wrong, I don't like it any more than you when it gets abused by likes of EA to release unfinished product. But I am all for using available technologies to improve upon product after release and I see no reason for release version to be final

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13:37 Oct-04-2020

I am all for using tools available. You know, why dig huge hole with hands like we used to and not use modern technology of machinery to do it much faster. Same is with this. And even if you look at the past, there were plenty of games which would hugely benefit from getting more than bugfixes in past as well.

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14:05 Oct-04-2020

Well said

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15:00 Oct-04-2020

I agree that new technologies, for instance, with the upcoming Witcher 3 Ray Tracing version are acceptable, but what I was referring to were the non-tech related changes CDPR made after launch due to community feedback. Should customers now expect a launch version of a game and a final GOTY type version at a later date where the game has been revised because of what consumers want?

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15:07 Oct-04-2020

If a release version isn't expected to be final, barring bug & performance patches, then isn't that really just still Early Access or is it Live Service?

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19:30 Oct-04-2020

I would only count it as early access, if it is fundamentally broken, like with rushed releases AAA is known for. But as far as adjusting game based on community feedback, that kind of does fall under live service, the much better part of life service, since a lot of people associate it with microtransactions and there is more too it. Except if you ask big AAA, so I can see reason for hate.

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19:32 Oct-04-2020

But as far as improvements to already great game goes, I am fine with bit of live service element of improving it further. Especially since it is free improvement. Or at least as far as I know, you didn't need GotY version of Witcher 3 to get those patches. If memory serves, I had all DLC and got GotY for free.

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00:04 Oct-05-2020

To my knowledge you're correct Seth. All the DLC's from The Witcher 3 (actually from all the Witcher games) were free if you bought the original game.

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13:45 Oct-05-2020

There were a few small dlc quests that were free but Heart Of Stone & Blood & Wine expansions had to be paid for either separately or together as a Season Pass. If you had all of those then you received the GOTY version for free when that became available.

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01:46 Oct-06-2020

@Imwhat I had to double check to confirm, but you're right about the expansions costing extra (if they weren't included into the GOTY edition).

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11:08 Oct-04-2020

It's a great concept but people ruined it. Both players and devs.


Players expecting too much and bash the game for it being buggy and unfinished is just dumb. Begging for bigger updates never helps and those small updates are just the thing early access should have.


In the other hand some devs just see those people and start polishing their updates to a point that defeats the point of early access, stop listening players completely or abandon the project.


Of course there are devs who are there to just exploit the system.

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11:59 Oct-04-2020

And then there are greedy publishers like Gearbox who turn up mid-EA and change the lower EA price to that of a full priced game as they did with We Happy Few as soon as they gained the rights.

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06:36 Oct-04-2020

As one of the commenters in that post who were ok with early access..... I'm entirely ok with early access as long as it's stated it will be early access...... I do think there should be a price difference between early access and final release, but unfortunately not all games releasing in early access get a price cut....looking at you Baldurs Gate 3 :( I have alot of trust in Larian though, so will be jumping in on that anyway..... but I really do wish they'd reconsider the early access price.

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11:05 Oct-04-2020

Agreed, same with mount and blade bannerlord.

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22:27 Oct-04-2020

Agreed about BG3. I trust Larian 100%. Their track record for having solid early access is flawless, and they're very upfront about everything during early access.. But I do wish they would consider a price reduction. Especially because I think this EA will last a LONG time... BUT I also think they will make some content readily available during EA (classes, races, etc) for Act 1.

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05:38 Oct-04-2020

As long as its cheaper than the finished game I don t mind them. But if I have to pay a full price for an early access version than no. If you want to do early access it must be cheaper. You want people to playtest it for you no one should expect you to pay full price.

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04:46 Oct-04-2020

Are early access and alpha same? If so I absolutely hate them but there were some reallllllyyyyy good alphas also- risk of rain 2 and Hades even tho i haven't played it but had overwhelming positive reviews. Also newblood games are good

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01:10 Oct-04-2020

I think the bar for entry to say your game is early access is too low. Too many low quality games make their way to early access and that really has ruined my view of them.

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22:53 Oct-03-2020

I'm indifferent to them. I've paid for several EA game primarily to support the development. But I won't ever play them because I usually only play a game once and I want that experience to be as fresh as possible.

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21:48 Oct-03-2020

I understand the concept of it, but it's a double edged sword for the developers. It has bad reputation for a reason. While there are some gems that crop up on EA, vast majority are sadly often unfinished and abandoned. As far as I'm concerned, I will occasionally back an EA game, but only if I see real potential that's achievable and a developer that genuinely seems to care and is invested into finishing the game.

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21:48 Oct-03-2020

That said, I still do think that if you're charging for something, you should expect to be judged accordingly. I personally am a bit more lenient on EA games I back (I can excuse some bugs, glitches, and lack of content if the dev is committed to support, update and fix their game),
and I think customers buying into EA should be warry but still more lenient based on the current game state.

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21:48 Oct-03-2020

Something to remember is that you are willingly spending money literally on an unfinished product, knowing full well that it could never be finished, so you should know what you're getting into and that your investment might resolve in nothing of value.
I think EA exists well the way it is. A decent way for devs to be supported for a game they're making, but still definitely not blameless as there are certain expectations to be met by selling your product in the first place

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20:47 Oct-03-2020

I feel like early access shouldn't exist. Instead devs should make it free beta.

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14:07 Oct-04-2020

As much as I like the idea of it, it's unlikely to happen.

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17:52 Oct-04-2020

Without money they can't get to beta in the first place.

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20:44 Oct-03-2020

As someone who grew up with games that did have minor bugs (PS1 era), it doesn't present a problem for me.
I think people have become way too obsessed with the need for perfection. The need for perfection or close to it, is a motivation and creativity killer (speaking as someone with experience in that regard )


If the devs (want to use Early Access) are upfront about the whole situation from the very beginning, I have no problem with that whatsoever. A lot of people even gain an appreciation about how demanding the whole development process is and end up supporting the developer even more.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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20:43 Oct-03-2020

Personally I am fine with early access, as long as it is clearly marked as early access and not also usual rushed release type of unmarked early access we tend to get with some AAA publishers. Though one needs to take good with bad, it can be great to give financial boost to small and independent developers, but also buyer should be aware about bugs and potential for broken promises.

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20:46 Oct-03-2020

So whenever you are getting early access, never take things for granted, game might never get finished. Also expect bugs, that is while point of early access. But I do think it is nice for positives as well, beside helping to finance development, it also can help developers with getting a lot more feedback, they otherwise wouldn't get with smaller test group. Just look at No Man's Sky,...

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20:48 Oct-03-2020

... if we put lies aside, that game basically launched in early access state and it did have some benefits from that beside money, since future updates were quite community driven, community that wouldn't be there if they took time to finish and it could have been much worse for it. Hence why I don't hate early access, I am fine with it being an option and buyer having to take responsibility,...

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20:50 Oct-03-2020

... to get information about early access to make informed decision.


As for negative effects, yes, they are there, if you want polished experience, wait for release. You don't have to buy early access game. I skip a lot of them or wait for release. So just be aware of it and it is fine either way.


As for CP, I probably would, since I would buy the game anyway, one of few I would.

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20:38 Oct-03-2020

If it is a free like a beta then im good, honestly i feel the last 6 or 7 years has been early aces games since most release in an unfinished state, crashing, bugs, etc

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19:59 Oct-03-2020

I used to like early access but, i got burned a few times by buying real garbage. I also notice that going in early ruins the new game feel.
So im learning to have a bit more patience and wait with buying games early.

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19:18 Oct-03-2020

I only bother with EA (not the greedy EA, the Early Access one xD) if I want to support the devs by helping fund the game development. Otherwise I don't bother.


I see the value where the community can shape the game into something potentially better over the course of development by providing feedback, but I personally find it a waste of time. How many times am I supposed to play an unfinished game that changes after every update? I hate updates as-is, so EA is just WAY more of that... So even if I support a game - I don't play it until launch.

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18:18 Oct-03-2020

is it even worth it early/beta access and so on? Usually when they release the game people find even more bugs its like devs never played the game to fix it. I mean how can you release kingdom come deliverence and you cant walk through some doors or steps was it? Thats a basic think to fix

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17:48 Oct-03-2020

I hate them, I'm unlikely to replay a full game just so I can try it completed and without bugs so I avoid early access completely.


I understand they might make the completed game better as the developer gets a cash injection but I'd rather not even see them at all.

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