Early Access’ much more obvious caveat emptor

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Apologies in advance for the lack of updates lately, things have been hectic on my end! There have been quite a few games that I’ve been sucked into from Watch_Dogs to Wolfenstein along with a special project I’ve volunteered to help out with. It’s all good and I’m hoping to jump back into my ad-hopping time machine more often in the coming weeks when time allows, so please bear with me. 🙂

One thing that I thought might be interesting to bring up here is GamesBeat’s look at Steam’s Early Access and the kind of legal recourse people might (or might not) have for buying into an Early Access game and then having that game…never finished. Valve recently changed their FAQ for Early Access as Nathan Grayson notes over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun adding in that “some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game.” Relatively recently, reviews for Early Access games now have an “Early Access” tag affixed at the top to further differentiate them.

It’s similar to the kind of risk that Kickstarter is under when you volunteer to fund a game (or anything else) over there, but unlike Kickstarter which only pays out if the funding goal is met, Early Access is more of a straight-up purchase for something that may or may never be completed similar to the immediacy of Indiegogo’s funding model.

Now GamesBeat’s Dan Crawley is weighing in with a look at a number of Early Access games, interviews with their makers, and asking a lawyer specializing in intellectual property whether customers have any recourse and what Valve can do better to communicate expectations. I haven’t bought into an Early Access game yet on Steam (I Kickstarted Wasteland 2 way before it ever hit Steam) but there are a few there that players are already very excited about from Rust and Starbound to DayZ. But like Kickstarter, there are also a few projects that just seemed to have “died on the vine” leaving players with little else other than a bitter lesson.

And you don’t even have to go to Early Access to find truly wicked turds that should never have been on Steam in the first place, but the fact that they serves only to underline the neutral marketplace approach that Valve is utilizing and letting the community rate them accordingly. Unless a game is proven to be a total fraud (as in the case of Earth: Year 2066), everyone can still expect gems like Air Control to crop up and stay there…or for Early Access games that seemingly may have died to stick around like zombies.

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