Mutually Assured Distinction

June 22, 2015
Mutually Assured Distinction

About this comic

When MS announced this I was like, hmmmmm…don’t we already kinda hate how Early Access has gone on Steam? Do we want more of that in consoles? Sure, there are great examples, but more often than not, it’s a complete crapshoot, and we’re paying for games that are often broken. Thoughts?

12 Responses to Mutually Assured Distinction

  1. Foxlore says:

    Heck, most commercial computer games have been broken to some degree since they invented the ability to DL a ‘patch’ in back in the 90s. 😉

    It’s become a standard model of development now to ‘release’ a game well before the bugs have been worked out.

    Perhaps the next step will be to have a live stream of a programmer just staring at his screen as he inputs code. 😉

  2. Doug says:

    I think we do know how it has worked out on Steam and elsewhere, and its went quite well I think. I think the opposite of what you suggest is true, that many early access games progress fine and are successfully released to mostly positive praise. Meanwhile a few high profile games fail or end up being a hot mess, and they get a lot of attention. And then there’s a large mass of them that are just okay and are nothing special, but make money for their companies and satisfy their smallish communities. And there’s a wide array of games under early access. Some are just extended betas, they released in a mostly finished state. Some (like Kerbal Space Program, Prison Architect, DayZ) emerge in a primitive state and are shaped by the community that forms around the game as it develops. Many of these are indie games and they simply wouldn’t get made without early access support, they’d not get the upfront funds to develop it before release. For some of them, maybe they shouldn’t have been made, but in other cases (KSP chief among them) we’d be missing out. In the end, its a matter of the consumer being educated; you need to be able to judge whether you want to play it while its being built and maybe contribute to it, or if you want to wait until its done. There’s not reason it has to be different on the consoles; it might make them actual indie platforms that don’t have huge barriers for entry, and you might get some more bang out of your buck out of that box on your TV stand :)

  3. Falos says:

    If I slap the “IN BETA” sticker on top, I can charge $79 orchestra tickets for my kid’s piano recital.

    What really baffles me isn’t the various industry practices that they spin off these days – it’s when they’re swallowed and even defended.

  4. Jack Fox says:

    I don’t defend early access, It’s a thing We just have to deal with at this point. People want money for their incomplete games and they are under 0 obligation to ever actually finish them. I have 3 games on steam in early access that haven’t left EA in over 3 years.

    There are of course always exceptions to this rule. Ark: Survival Evolved is still in EA but the developers have worked on in and are updating if constantly. It’s an example of some of the good that can come from it.

    It saddens me that this is expanding though… I fear eventually all games will resort to this and we will be stuck with never finish products that just ruin the experience as a whole.

  5. Vake Xeacons says:

    Thanks to social networking, it’s kind of like turning us into play testers without having to pay us. If I’m going to to play a BETA, I want my share!

  6. Tank-Like says:

    I only have good experience with Early Access. But then again: I do not expect more than a playable tech demo when signing up for EA.
    It was true for Spintires on Steam (which I totally adore even though it is a niche product) as well as Armored Warfare. The second one is even weirder: The game itself will be Free To Play but Early Access is 14€ (about 15$).

    I’m still unsure about whether to buy EA to Dirt Rally. 30€ isn’t all that cheap for a demo but it is for a fully developed game. So here the question is if I would buy it later anyways.

    • Jack Fox says:

      Honestly it’s not so much that they exist that’s the issue, it’s that there is so much of it that it’s become madness. I swear half the games or more that come out on steam are in EA and will never leave it. Some have been in EA for years and years and not going anywhere, others have stopped being updated after promises of being updated. I would just like the ability to filter them out in steam. I don’t know what the XB1 is doing.

  7. Florian says:

    I am Bat… loading…. man

  8. Playing a game in progress? It’d probably look like Tron.

  9. linuxbrandon says:

    I feel this is a double-edged sword. For small indie publishers, this is a great opportunity to get revenue to continue development work on a game they are really excited about, and may not have the means to continue otherwise.

    What’s horrible is when huge gaming companies do this. EA, Ubisoft, WB Games, etc. have plenty of revenue streams from the upteenth Assassins Creed/Lego Game/etc..
    The simple fact is they have plenty of resources to finish & thoroughly test a game before releasing it, there is no reason for them to post it as early-access except for free play testing. The industry won’t fix itself, the only solution is for gamers to wisen up and be more selective about what we pay money for.

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