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Steam’s new FAQ makes Early Access games sound like a gamble

Thursday, 5th June 2014 10:52 GMT By Dave Cook

Valve has updated its Steam Early Access FAQ page to warn people that even if they pay to play a title early, to just be aware that the developer might never finish it. The company has since responded to the changes with a statement that explains its re-wording.

dayzheader

Perhaps one of the highest-profile Steam Early Access game sis DayZ (above), which has is still working towards that final release state. Back in February of this year, creator Dean Hall said that DayZ was still, “alpha as fuck,” which didn’t really narrow things down at the time.

Early Access delays are an inevitability in some cases, and it’s understandable why some investors might feel short-changed by having to wait so long for a final build. However, the nature of how these indie titles are developed is changing, as many of them are crafted alongside community feedback over time, rather than rushed out with bugs.

That’s perhaps why Valve has edited its own Early Access FAQ, as spotted by VentureBeat. The new page makes clear that Steam Early Access games might never launch.

Previously, the wording went as follows:

Is this the same as pre-purchasing a game?

No. Early Access is a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form and as it evolves up and through ‘release.’

When will these games release?

It’s up to the developer to determine when they are ready to ‘release.’ Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses.

If the release date is known, it will be listed on the store page for the game, in the upper-right corner under the game’s branding image.

The quotation use of the term ‘release’ is rather woolly and undefined. Valve has now edited the FAQ to warn consumers that there is an element of risk attached with games that may never see a final release:

Is this the same as pre-purchasing a game?

No. Early Access is a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form and as it evolves. You keep access to the game, even if the game later moves from Early Access into fully released.

When will these games release?

It’s up to the developer to determine when they are ready to ‘release.’ Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses. You should be aware that some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.

When asked to comment on the new changes, Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded with a statement that read, “The changes to the FAQ are intended to help set customer expectations of what may or may not happen over the course of development of an Early Access game. We frequently iterate on Steam features as we gather feedback and find areas for improvement.

“In this case, it became apparent that further clarification would help customers evaluate their potential purchase of Early Access titles. We think of Steam, Early Access, and game development as services that grow and evolve best with the involvement of customers and the community.”

Do you think the new wording makes sense? What’s your view on Early Access? Let us know below.

Via GI.biz.

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5 Comments

  1. TheWulf

    I think anyone with any capacity for borderline intelligence would have figured out that this, like Kickstarter, is a gamble? You’re paying the money more to support the developers than you are for a guaranteed, eventual release.

    I guess they had to spell it out, though.

    But I think not even my faith in humans is low enough to believe that there are those who’ve bought Early Access games and then complained about what they knew they were buying into. But then, maybe it is possible, maybe people can be more stupid than fruit flies.

    My estimation of average human intellect keeps dropping, but I didn’t want it to drop that low.

    #1 4 months ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @TheWulf “maybe it is possible, maybe people can be more stupid than fruit flies.”

    Exactly.

    #2 4 months ago
  3. AmiralPatate

    @TheWulf
    When it comes to software development, you always assume your average usage is about as smart as a stone brick.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. Talkar

    @AmiralPatate I usually don’t give users that much credit either :P

    #4 4 months ago
  5. salarta

    @TheWulf Even if we assume humans aren’t capable of stupidity, there are plenty capable of greed, and the courts in the U.S. are so focused on technicalities that someone could have taken Valve to court and conceivably won the case solely by a person pretending they were stupid enough to not know any better. For example, in the old language, someone could have claimed that they thought Steam guaranteed the game would reach a finished state, and that releasing a game for sale that never got finished was false advertising.

    #5 4 months ago

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