The advantages of early access for developers are obvious. Games offered through Steam’s early access program have allowed independent developers a way to finance their projects while leveraging community participation, and gives them the power to avoid contractual pitfalls that can come with publisher backing. High-profile games like DayZ, Rust, Planetary Annihilation, and Prison Architect are benefitting from early access. Larian Studios even attributes the success of their recently launched RPG Divinity: Original Sin to feedback gleaned from players during the early access period.
While PC players may have demonstrated their eagerness to purchase unfinished games, will console players do so as well? Sony is considering the question. In an interview with Gamasutra, Sony’s Adam Boyes says that figuring out how to do early access the right way is something his company is looking into.
That’s one of the massive conversations we have internally – that, at what point does [a game meet standards of release]? We still at some point ensure that we’re being mindful of the consumer. We don’t want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience.
Boyes admits that he played Rust and had a great time despite it being unfinished.