I’m going to sound like a spoiled tablet because I’ve been spotting a few columns for fear of the Early Acces model or the alpha version of the game. I still wrote about it in 2014, and since then things have worsened to such an extent that the situation for three years now looks idyllic. Last year I was pointing out how the Early Access model was embedded into high-budget games, so we got content with impoverished titles such as Star Wars Battlefront, Street Fighter V and No Man’s Sky, as well as the fact that these games were not sold as Early Access titles.
The warning time to things like Early Accesa has passed. For that it is now too late because the practice of buying unfinished games has become normal today. Early Access is no longer just alphafunding than Game Preview (Xbox), Soft Launch (Android / iOS), Games in Development (GOG) and what no one will admit to you, the game model service, very popular with Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard . Before the glossy “click” title, for those who do not know what the model of the game is like, here’s a brief explanation.
“Early Access is no longer just alphafunding, but also Game Preview, Soft Launch, Games in Development, and a game model as a service.”
Until recently, most games were conceived as products. You pay for the product and get it in a ready-made release. Sometimes you have to agree (install it), but it means that you get the whole product in the package and not some component you need to buy separately. Most of today’s gamers still see games like such packages, especially on consoles where things are still being bought on optical discs. However, people for the product are not accustomed to paying in advance. Most purchases are made when the product is officially launched on the market.
On the other hand, we are prematurely accustomed to paying services, for example, when you call a master to house you, you will most likely pay him in advance, of which part of the paid amount you need for the material if you do not buy it yourself (and you often do not have time or know What is best / most advantageous and you leave it to the master). Such a prepaid payment model is very attractive to game publishers. Namely, the development of every game is risky because there is no guarantee that it will sell well to cover development costs. When we pay for the game in advance – before it is completed (as a product), it’s a publisher’s indication of the project’s profitability. Or what shall be said in the people, a better handmaid than a pigeon in the field. That’s why publishers so much fortify so-called. Preorder games, although early booking of the game does not make sense in digital form since it is not like the customer will remain without their copy on the go when the number of digital copies is not limited.
“The payment model of the game before it is completed is very appealing to publishers who are keen to lure you to the preorder.”
Now, the games with the service model are Overwatch, The Division, Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, Destiny – games that went on sale in a different edition than what you’ll be holding them today. All these games now have more folders, modes, classes, quests, and mechanics than they were when they were out. This is a good thing, especially if the game upgrades are free. But there is currently no clear set of definitions that is the least acceptable amount of content a player can expect when they pay for such a game. Neither clearly defined definitions can a developer promote his game as a promise and sell it as something else. To use an earlier analogy with the master who will turn you home – you pay him the price of the service in advance, but he is not obligated to tell you if his starting amount will be sufficient for the purchase of the material for the service promised or briefly demonstrated or when he will do it This service.
Get to know Might & Magic: Showdown, the game of the famous Might & Magic series developed by Ubisoft, one of the most financially stable companies in the video game industry. The mentioned game was launched early this year as Early Access title at a price of 20 euros. After half a year of selling the game at Early Access, with the promise of new content to come, Ubisoft completely shut down M & M: Showdown and removed it with Steam. Be careful what they said:
“We want to thank all of our dedicated players who helped us in our Early Access campaign – because we’ve learned a lot about how to best serve you and we hope to transfer that knowledge to future Ubisoft projects.”
We hope not to think about how to make money on the game and then turn it off. To be correct, Ubisoft offered to all gamblers a refund, but within 20 days before removing it with Steam. It’s as if your master says, ‘I will return the money if you are not satisfied with my service, but only if you tell me before I do my job to the end.’
But well – it’s not like all games will be magical to become services instead of products. After all, we also have positive examples of Early Accesa products and services. Divinity: Original Son, for example, DiRT Rally, Starbound or Terraria … But is there really a reason why a Fortnite, who is developing for five years, comes out of Early Access as a 40-euro game and is promised as the F2P title that will F2P release to go next year? And watch out for this – playing as an unfinished beta version (hidden under the title Deluxe Edition) is sold on PlayStation 4 for which Sony has officially no unlocked games launch program! Is there any reasonable logic of why one We Happy Few, or a kick-kicking kick-off title after Early Accesse, would cost 20 euros more just because he found a publisher who wants to sell the game at a higher price?
“How is the beta version of Fortune managed to reach the PS4 console if it does not support Early Access models ?!”
These are just some of the controversies that connect with Early Access, and I have not touched on what is thought to be the central theme of this text. You can make it all good because you do not buy unfinished games. However, this year, it has become clear that we are going to the future in which you will be looking for the completed games with a magnifying glass. Namely, do you know which game this year was sold in the largest number of copies on any platform? The answer is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Do you know what is the most fun game at Steam lately? PUBG!
I do not think PUBG is a bad game. Moreover, I see why it is interesting to a particular audience. However, I do not think that it is good that the best-selling game this year is unfinished because by buying such a product we do not have a good attitude towards what’s important in the games. Is it more important to you that the game is well-optimized or has support for loot boxes? If you bought PUBG, this is the second thing to you. Okay, you’re not guilty of having the developer prioritized this, moreover – they promised you would not add microprocesses until they finished the game, but they did, letting go, changing their plan when they saw a chance to make quick money as soon as the number of active players began to grow. But hey, it’s a popular game and who cares? Jona Snow cares.
And we’re going to talk about how Microsoft clings to playing like a leech. The big giant does not intend to make money in it to be better or faster, because why – the sale is going well anyway, there is no reason for additional investment. However, they will only invest money to promote the game so sales continue to go well, or rather, to ignore the fact that they promote a game that is still in the beta test stage.
Where is lucky that PUBG gets this year a lot of issues with which we would all be happy. But even with such a scenario, thanks to the success of the game, doors and windows were opened for all the further exploitation of Early Acces‘s games as a service. There is no back then. Selling unfinished games is a more cost-effective, less risky model for the video game industry than it is in episodic production or game development with a medium-sized budget. After the remarkable success of PUBG, now it’s crystal clear to all those who rub their hands watching they will earn a fall in the value of critical gaming thinking about the games they buy.