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Sony’s looking into an Early Access program for PS4

Saturday, 12th July 2014 22:07 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Sony is considering taking a page out of Steam’s book and adding an Early Access type of service to PlayStation 4.

Speaking with Gamasutra, SCEA VP of developer relations Adam Boyes said it was a “massive conversation” internally.

“We’re working through that right now,” said Boyes. “We’re figuring out what’s okay. We obviously have our tech requirement checklist that people have to adhere to. We’re internally discussing [what the list will] look like and what are the caveats. 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. So it’s still a project that a lot of minds are considering. No details yet, but it’s something on the top of my mind every day.”

Boyes added there are many consumers who don’t mind paying for an unfinished product providing the price is right and their input is taken into account.

“There are different types of people,” he postulated, “who always back games, enjoy Kickstarters, try things that they know aren’t finished but are willing to help make better. I remember playing Rust and laughing hysterically. And there were some things that weren’t finished, but I had a ton of fun.”

This isn’t the first time an Early Access program has been discussed publicly by Sony.

During E3, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida told Kotaku there was “interest from developers” regarding such an option.

Furthermore, Microsoft also weighed in on the possibility with Xbox head Phil Spencer telling the site: “I’ve started to think about: ‘Is there a way to more programmatically think about what betas mean on a console?’ I don’t have a plan that’s locked on that, but just having a bunch of betas happening, I’m not sure if that’s the best way to run a console, either.”

Valve launched its Early Access program last year with 12 titles and now there are 226 currently available through the Steam service.

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22 Comments

  1. Erthazus

    Please no. Don’t do this Sony.

    This is a thing that I hate on the PC and I wish that console players won’t experience that fuckness. It’s out of control on the PC and it will be out of control on consoles. Console and PC releases are buggy but this is a new level and for consoles it’s going to be even harder.

    #1 1 month ago
  2. Panthro

    In comes console gaming to save gaming again, PC early access just is a bunch of broken games, on console we will get much higher quality early access releases.

    #2 1 month ago
  3. Erthazus

    @Panthro That’s in theory but in reality it won’t be like that. Higher quality early access releases are a shitty idea even if they don’t have bugs.

    Consoles lived without that. Had excellent and poor games. Early access shit will just do more damage to AAA industry and indie will be a total mess in the end.

    #3 1 month ago
  4. Legendaryboss

    EA already beat them with Battlefield 4! Bet they were one of the keen publishers.

    #4 1 month ago
  5. Panthro

    @Erthazus

    It’s a trend that wont stop, consoles get better, higher quality, better developed games, PC just has a bunch of early access MMO’s.

    Then PC will just get lower quality ports of early access console games which run perfectly at butter smooth 30fps 720p but on PC dont run at all (like the majority of PC games, they dont even start and a lot get black screens of death and BSOD’s)

    #5 1 month ago
  6. Erthazus

    + imagine if publishers will do Early access games. This is going to be the end of the industry.

    PREORDER Assassins Creed VI with early access and preorder DLC. It will be a buggy mess and publishers can exploit that idea for new iP’s to see if it was worth to make a fucking alpha stage release.

    Early access is SHIT and on Steam it’s already out of control.

    #6 1 month ago
  7. Panthro

    @Erthazus

    On PC it is.

    On console it will be better.

    #7 1 month ago
  8. Erthazus

    @Panthro It won’t. Even some of the PS2 releases were broken and unplayable not to mention about PS3 releases where publishers fuck over consumer with crappy ports.

    Quality control on consoles is far from perfection.

    #8 1 month ago
  9. Panthro

    @Erthazus

    Stop fighting the perfection of consoles, PC gaming only gets the leftovers of consoles.

    #9 1 month ago
  10. Legendaryboss

    Is it opposite day already?

    #10 1 month ago
  11. TheWulf

    This makes a lot of sense.

    I pointed out the other day that lots of games are broken and unfinished, anyway, lacking content, polish, and their full potential. It’s just that Steam is more transparent about this with Early Access. With the consoles, you’re lead to believe that every game you buy is finished, when they very rarely are. How many times have journalists lamented the lack of completion of a title? It was rushed, or it felt thin towards the end, or it was excessively buggy…

    An Early Access program would encourage developers to continue working on their stuff. The thing is, back in the day, in the early days, everything was Early Access. Gasp! Shock’n awe! Et cetera. But it’s true. And what would happen is that developers would release … um … what did they call them? Pa-chez? Patches? Yes. Those things. They’d release patches until a game was done. Consider just how many PC RPGs, like Baldur’s Gate, benefited from this.

    Now, consider the end of that age, and how many PC RPGs suffered because that stopped being a thing. I’m looking at you, Knights of the Old Republic 2. It wasn’t the fault of Obsidian, either. It was the fault of Atari who just wanted it rushed out so they could ship it, with no further support planned.

    Erudition leads one to understand that Early Access isn’t a promise of broken games, it’s a promise of patches and further development as time goes on. The kind of things you’d have to pay for as DLC will be included into the game for free as a part of ongoing development. I mean, look at Starbound as an example of an Early Access title — it’s being continually worked on even though they could technically release it as a full game right now and just ask for further monies down the road to release patches as expansion packs.

    Early Access is doing it ’90s style. Anyone who doesn’t know that wasn’t around for the ’90s of PC gaming. It doesn’t surprise me that Erth wasn’t there for that. He seems to be a much more recent PC gamer.

    Why wouldn’t people want that? People are stupid, I guess. Or, more to the point, extroverts are stupid because they never let things percolate and think them through before commenting. :P So, I think the people who’ll hate this the most are the ones who don’t understand what the long term benefits are. Games are released in a broken state ALL THE TIME anyway.

    Early Access is a good thing.

    Don’t buy it? Skyrim on the PS3 was released in such a broken state that it initially couldn’t be completed, rushed patches made the game even worse, breaking sidequests and leading to dragons flying backwards. Eventually, Bethesda just gave up on it as a lost cause. Fallout 3 shipped with a bug where, if you completed quests in a certain order, the game would lock up if you stepped into about a quarter’s worth of the region of the map (the lower right half), which meant that it was impossible to get to Rivet City. It took Bethesda six months to fix this.

    Why did the fixes take so long, and why did they give up? Because there’s so much red tape for patches on the PC. An Early Access program would mean that the red tape surrounding patches would be removed because the game is in “ongoing development,” yes? So they could just land patches as they desired. If you don’t think that’s a good thing, then you’re a silly person.

    There’s nothing wrong with Early Access, just the incorrect public perception of it. Because people believe every ridiculous rumour they hear.

    To digress onto another topic for a moment, did you hear the rumour about how Starbound’s developer, Chucklefish, now has a bad rep? Apparently, they had a row with one of their developers and kicked him out, then started deleting posts and banning people who mentioned it. This sounded fishy to my introverted, investigative mind, so I looked into it.

    Turns out…

    - Bartwe had left on his own terms. Apparently the developers were getting together in an offices in London, Bartwe couldn’t join them, so he choose to part with them (on good terms).

    - Bartwe was already working on his own project (Staxel) anyway, and as such he wasn’t as invested in Starbound as he once was, so he thought it was time for new blood. He said this himself.

    - People on the forums started wildly speculating, those posts were deleted, and people were pointed to Bartwe’s own explanation.

    - People started attacking Chucklefish for chasing away Bartwe, those posts were deleted and people were given temp bans for being arseholes.

    - People started attacking Bartwe for abandoning the project, those posts were deleted and people were given temp bans for being arseholes.

    - This mutates into: Bartwe was kicked out of Chucklefish after they had a row, everyone who asks about it has their post deleted or is given a temp ban.

    How does that happen? Extroverts are freaking stupid and they never question anything! That’s how! I actually feel bad for Chucklefish and Bartwe, with people spreading all this nonsense around. I’m almost tempted to ask VG24/7 to help out by posting an article about this, because this ‘news’ is spreading like wildfire and it’s only going to hurt Chucklefish and Bartwe in the end.

    Neither of them deserve that.

    Anyway, back on the topic of Early Access — people hate early access because they don’t understand what it is, they don’t see the potential, and they buy into all the unsubstantiated rumours and hearsay that’s spread about it. Moreover, they’ll buy just any shitty game that’s on Steam without doing any background research, and they’ll always look for someone to blame for that. Steam, Early Access, whomever.

    Just tired of people doing that, I guess… extroverts, mostly, because as I said they lack the inclination toward investigation, and thought and percolation.

    Ultimately, Early Access is always a good thing. Just look for those who’re using it right and you’ll never go wrong.

    #11 1 month ago
  12. TheWulf

    I wonder when Erth will realise that Panthro is satirising the pricks who uphold the Console Master Race tenets? Because every format has its Master Race types, frankly, as annoying as it is.

    Like I keep saying: “I don’t hate the platforms, never did, I just the douchebags who believe that their chosen platform has objective superiority over all others.

    Every platform has its own pros and cons.

    #12 1 month ago
  13. The_Red

    Uh, Early Access. The ingenious scheme that turned me off Steam shopping sprees. Seriously, I used to be a huge Steam customer who would get tons of random, small Steam games without really knowing about them.

    Now? I did not buy a SINGLE game during Summer sale. Early Access is a horrible abomination that has ruined Steam for me and if Sony goes forward with this plan, will do the same to PSN in no time.

    #13 1 month ago
  14. ChristopherJack

    I don’t mind early access for the final bug finding phase. Anything before that phase shouldn’t be charging any money as they’re simply Alpha testers.

    #14 1 month ago
  15. polygem

    i LOVE dayZ. i wouldn´t want to miss the experience i had with this game.

    noone forces anyone into buying anything.

    having more options to play stuff on a system is always a good thing in my book.

    early access can be trash but it can also be an awesome experience.

    the gaming community is pretty vocal.

    as soon as something hits a digital store you can inform yourself if the game on offer might be worth it for you or not.

    i think this is a good thing.

    #15 1 month ago
  16. Game Hunter

    The industry is in need of a crash.#dealwithit :D

    #16 1 month ago
  17. Darkfield

    @Panthro Can’t disagree more. Early Access is a great way for indie devs to get their games on display and help fine tuning the final product. However it won’t make any sense if this some how expand outside of indie circle and therefore as long as this exist to serve indie devs I’m all up for it, if soulsucking publishers are after that I’m willing to go on all out war against it. To me Early Access was always about indies it hepls them funding their project and people will shower them with all kinds of feedback which depending on how devs are willing to take that feedback in helps the end result tremendously. Finer examples ArmA III, Divinity Original Sin, Wasteland 2, Age of Decadence and so on.

    #17 1 month ago
  18. Darkfield

    @Darkfield Tremendously better*

    @Pat PLEASE BRING BACK THE EDIT BUTTON!

    #18 1 month ago
  19. _LarZen_

    No thanks. Steam should remove Early Access…so much trash and many games never get finished.

    #19 1 month ago
  20. TD_Monstrous69

    If there’s actual quality control with this, then I’m all for it, because that’s the real problem with Steam Early Access. Though run it like Valve has seemed to have handled it, then I say no thank you, avoid it like the plague.

    #20 1 month ago
  21. Llewelyn_MT

    Way to kill console gaming with its myths just arrived, courtesy Sony. :D

    Sony’s Dream:
    Early Access + paid updates = $_$

    @Panthro
    Stop fighting the perfection of PCs, Console gaming only gets the leftovers of PCs.

    See what I did there? Seriously, if you want to fight the PC Master Race you have to do better then that… Last time I got a BSoD I got running Windows ME, which was 12 years ago (Football World Cup was on that summer, that’s how I remember the year).

    #21 1 month ago
  22. TheGreatWhiteHerd

    I have never bought an early access game and never will.

    #22 1 month ago

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