Unqualified Experts #20: Is Early Access Good or Bad for Gaming?

There are both pros and cons to early access programs, as well as all the varying versions of this (Alpha early access, Beta release, eternal content addition, etc.). Are they greedy money grabs that are damaging the gaming world permanently and bringing about a new normal that no one wants (like when pizza delivery places added a delivery fee)?

To no one’s surprise, we have some thoughts on that!

This isn’t focusing on DLCs, but on base games, how they were handled, and have plenty of thoughts AND examples of games that did things right. And the horrid smoking wreckage stories of those that didn’t.

This is a bit different than some of our other videos but it’s on a topic that holds plenty of interest for any of us interested in video games and the state of video games online.

You can just hit play there or click on the upcoming link to open a new tab to watch later as Braden and Shane give their viewpoints on early Access for video games and whether overall it’s a good program or a bad one.

So What’s the Verdict on Early Access?

As frustrating as it can be to end up with an answer that comes down to “it depends,” the numbers actually back up that idea. While not an exact 50/50 split, and we can argue over if similar strategies or alpha to beta to full release, the good games vs. bad games or great games vs. terrible games actually seem to be split close to the middle.

Sometimes there were obvious early warning signs. Likewise on the other side sometimes there was great communication and signs that an early release game was going to be as good as advertised.

Take a look at the video and let us know how we did in the YouTube comments!

A great Redditt thread on how the original games to take advantage of Steam’s Early Access program can be found HERE, and if you want to see the original Redditt post that Shane references in the video on how early access games ended up, you can find that Redditt survey/study HERE.

Some of the absolute best early access games are:

  • The Darkest Dungeon
  • The Long Dark
  • Don’t Starve
  • Raft
  • Rimworld
  • World of Horror
  • Phasmophobia

Some unconventional strategies that have built up amazing games include:

  • The Banner Saga (One, Two, and Three)
  • The Long Dark (which was actually early access, as noted above)
  • Civilization 6 (Keep on ADDING all that new content every month, baby!!!)

Short list of points on Early Access Games:

  • Pre-purchase is ALWAYS the wrong choice
  • From big publishers early access is often terrible while it can be a powerful tool for smaller or independent publishers
  • Do your research as these can absolutely be hit or miss – but there are some true gems

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