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The "Early Access" Scam

syntax42syntax42 Columbus, OHPosts: 1,306Member Uncommon

More and more games these days are being sold with the "Early Access" stipulation, and I think it needs to stop before things get out of hand.  

Note:  I am not referring to MMOs which let you play a few days before the official launch.  I am referring to UNFINISHED games which try to get you to pay for an UNFINISHED product, with no promise of what will be in the finished version, and no influence over the development.

 

When I started gaming, if you wanted a game, you had to go to the store and hope they had it in stock.  If it was a popular game that just released, chances were good they sold out already and had to wait on more physical copies.  The solution to that was to allow people to pre-order.  This was good for the customer because it ensured they could get their game on release while game studios and publishers had a better idea of how many copies to ship.  

Now, that marketing tool has turned into selling your game before it has finished.  I was fine with giving beta access for pre-ordering, but only when it guaranteed they would finish the game.  The deal was that you could revoke your pre-order if you didn't like the beta.  Instead of selling pre-orders and giving beta access, "Early Access" is charging full price in many cases for an incomplete game with no way to revoke your purchase if you don't like the direction the developers take the game.  

The "Early Access" practice needs to stop.  Games will go unfinished and customers will be angry with no way to recoup their loss.  Developers have less motivation to finish games when they already have your money.  The overall quality of games will decrease due to this "Early Access" practice.  Basically, the stick is getting too short and the carrot is too easy to reach.

 

Does anyone disagree and feel the practice of releasing "Early Access" is a good thing for the video game entertainment industry?

Comments

  • DamonVileDamonVile Vancouver, BCPosts: 4,818Member

    Early access in mmos is to spread people out on launch day. Allowing a small(ish) sized group of the more dedicated people a few days head start means they're not in the starter zone when the more casual fans start on day one. and those zone don't take as big of a hit load wise.

    If you're concerned about a game not going in the direction you want don't give them your money. You're point about not being able to cancel if you don't like it kind of stinks of the I shouldn't have to be responsible for my decisions.

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 20,008Member Uncommon

    Early access is annoying, but it really doesn't impact me because I don't buy them anymore until they are pretty much finished, and the last two I bought, TSW and SWTOR I waited a month or two after launch. (same with GW2 which I bought my son, waited until just before Christmas last year)

     

     

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  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    Imo, early access caters to the audience segment willing to pay for their impatience. Just as beta used as a marketing tool can really backfire (I'm looking at you, TSW), so does early access. The same kind of negative hype goes out to the potential player base and can cut off launch momentum before it really has a chance to gather steam.


    I get it that having the funds early is nice, and having another hype angle is handy to keep a game on players' minds. But the downside is such a steep and slippery slope that I'm surprised devs are still doing it.

  • syntax42syntax42 Columbus, OHPosts: 1,306Member Uncommon

    I'm not referring to MMOs that let you play a couple days before "launch".  Those are fine.  The problem is games which have unknown release dates, or possibly months of work to be done and no way of sticking to a firm release date, but they try to sell their game anyways.  

     

    Take a look at the Steam front page.  At least two of the last ten games released recently are in "Early Access" and have no firm release date on their pages.  Those are not the only games doing this, and I fear if the trend continues, it could be bad for the quality of games released.

  • AlthewiseguyAlthewiseguy DumfriesPosts: 108Member
    I disagree. Early access is a good optional extra for those who want to help provide more data for helping developers squash bugs etc. Nothing is stopping people wanting a complete game from waiting till the full release is out. 
  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,906Member Uncommon

    I agree with the OP. I never paid an "early access" and never will. I too feel its a scam. Either a product is finished and worth paying or not. This is a paid beta test. And *I* am supposed to pay to be *allowed* to beta test: or in simpler terms: I do the work or play testing, where normally paid testers are working, and instead of BEING paid, I must PAY?

    No. Just no. This is just obscene.

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  • SlampigSlampig Chantilly, VAPosts: 2,376Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by syntax42

    More and more games these days are being sold with the "Early Access" stipulation, and I think it needs to stop before things get out of hand.  

    Note:  I am not referring to MMOs which let you play a few days before the official launch.  I am referring to UNFINISHED games which try to get you to pay for an UNFINISHED product, with no promise of what will be in the finished version, and no influence over the development.

     

    When I started gaming, if you wanted a game, you had to go to the store and hope they had it in stock.  If it was a popular game that just released, chances were good they sold out already and had to wait on more physical copies.  The solution to that was to allow people to pre-order.  This was good for the customer because it ensured they could get their game on release while game studios and publishers had a better idea of how many copies to ship.  

    Now, that marketing tool has turned into selling your game before it has finished.  I was fine with giving beta access for pre-ordering, but only when it guaranteed they would finish the game.  The deal was that you could revoke your pre-order if you didn't like the beta.  Instead of selling pre-orders and giving beta access, "Early Access" is charging full price in many cases for an incomplete game with no way to revoke your purchase if you don't like the direction the developers take the game.  

    The "Early Access" practice needs to stop.  Games will go unfinished and customers will be angry with no way to recoup their loss.  Developers have less motivation to finish games when they already have your money.  The overall quality of games will decrease due to this "Early Access" practice.  Basically, the stick is getting too short and the carrot is too easy to reach.

     

    Does anyone disagree and feel the practice of releasing "Early Access" is a good thing for the video game entertainment industry?

    Give me some examples of games that are doing this.

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  • tom_goretom_gore TamperePosts: 1,796Member Uncommon

    Back in the day it was "Test our game and report bugs, we'll pay you!"

    Then it turned into "Try our game for free and report bugs".

    Now it is "Pay for the priviledge to discover and report bugs in our game"

    The most shameless of these shenaganians charge premium for this priviledge. (i.e. early access costs more than the final product)

     

    But hey it's a free world and businesses are free to rip off stupid fuckers with too much money!

  • CrazKanukCrazKanuk Elmira, ONPosts: 2,499Member Uncommon

    I couldn't disagree with you more. First of all, you act as though video game companies are taking your money and not delivering on a regular basis. I'm really sorry, but I don't see it as the pandemic that you do. Off the top of my head, I can't even think of a game that took my money and didn't end up releasing something. Give me an example of 5 and prove me wrong, but I really can't think of any. 

     

    Secondly, you seem to be painting with a broad brush by assuming that as soon as a game company gets your money they don't have any motivation to complete their game. Early Access sales are a drop in the bucket. Their effects are actually quite opposite to your assumption. They allow companies to continue to develop the game and create a more polished product than releasing something that isn't ready for public consumption. Unlike pre-orders which go directly into the pockets of the retailer, at least Early Access goes to the development team. The whole reason you can't get your money back is because it's probably spent by the time you press Go. I fail to see how injecting money into a game in development is hurting it. The majority of revenue for the game will be earned through subscriptions or micro-transactions, so it's not a pump and dump mentality. The developer has much more invested into the game, in most cases, than what Early Access will pay back.

     

    If anything, Early Access will actually improve the overall game quality. The biggest obstacle right now is getting is this mentality that if I give you early access or beta access, the game will be amazing and everything you expected. I remember when being accepted into a beta was a privilege. Also, betas have NEVER paid and it was MUCH more like doing unpaid work than what it is today. Today it's like "Oh, I got a beta key, cool!" log into the game, "Oh this game is all buggy and stuff, what a piece of crap!" Log out, go and trash the game on forums. This new paradigm for what is expected from a beta is actually what is hurting games. So, now, what game developers are having to do is ratchet back their public testing and, instead of beta, call it Alpha Testing. So now you much more frequently see people offering access to Alpha Testing. What they really mean is beta testing, though. Problem is that people simply don't provide constructive criticism when they encounter issues any more. 

     

    I would actually say that you're maybe putting Pre-orders on a bit of a pedestal, like they are some holy sacrament. I'd say that well over half the time that I've pre-ordered have turned out to be crap. So, let's say, that I invest my money into Early Access, instead. Chances are that I'll get some sort of lofty bonus for doing so, because that's the way they always seem to work, I get to play through the game early. Even if it doesn't ship, does it really matter? If you've ever taken a chance on pre-ordering something other than a AAA title, most of the time you'll have buyers remorse after the first hour anyway. I'll bet you would wish that they hadn't even shipped that game that you pre-ordered. You'd probably end up trading it in and away your money goes anyway. No difference in my mind, with the exception that anything that I purchase early access for will generally offer me bonuses that will be on my account regardless whether I like the game or not, so maybe I let my kids play it or maybe I come back to it in a year and see if it's gotten any better. My bonuses will still be there, though. 

     

    Just Sayin' 

    Crazkanuk

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  • Ender4Ender4 milwaukee, WIPosts: 2,253Member

    I'm fine with early access when it is basically paying to play the beta. But I dislike when it is like a 5 day early access. If I'm excited about the game I'll gladly pay to play it in the beta stage personally and I don't mind helping the company out with a little more cash early.

    The one that bugs me is when a game is releasing free to play and basically releases to the public but calls itself a beta for another 6 months. Once anyone who wants to play the game can join it is no longer a beta, they are just using the word as a shield to stop all complaints.

  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,229Member Uncommon

    I do think it's a bad thing for the industry in general. This study here: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/416824/game-demos-halve-sales-new-data-suggests/ brings to light the effect of demos can have on sales.

     

    And I think it really does hurt MMO even more so. Closed beta's are meant for bug finding and getting a bit of player feedback, they're a good thing. A very limited (maybe two day) stress test open beta can help a company new to MMO's, but in general these multiple week/month long beta/early access are hurting MMOs.

     

    A lot of what makes a MMO interesting is the exploration/discovery, playing it early and then being asked to play it again (as many betas end with character wipes) will cause players to just not play the second time around. Been there done that syndrome.

    Then there's the player on player influence that goes on in forums. Open betas with hundreds of thousands of players only lead to people whining about this or that on various forums and this can taint people's view of a game they previously might be enjoyed. People say it all the time, "if you like a game, stay away from the forums." You cannot unsee things as they get in your head and you start to notice those flaws more and more each time.

    Now, the counter argument is that we shouldn't be interested in buying games that are bad. And you're right, but that's what the OP's point is. Companies have figured this out and you are no longer "pre-ordering" you are "pre-purchasing" and playing the beta of a game.

    And as always, this happens because people will pay for it. It's not really the game companies faults, it's that the consumers are willing and it's bad business to leave money on the table when people are trying to throw it at you. The question is, is it costing them in the long run?

  • OmaliOmali MMO Business Correspondent Orchard Park, NYPosts: 1,114Member Uncommon
    I don't think the OP knows what the definition of a scam is.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,788Member Uncommon
    If you don't like it, then don't pay for it.  I generally wait until well after a game launches before I'll buy it.  It works, and there's no reason why you can't do it, too.
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,680Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    If you don't like it, then don't pay for it.  I generally wait until well after a game launches before I'll buy it.  It works, and there's no reason why you can't do it, too.

    I agree with Quizzical here. If you don't like it, don't pay for it. The only reason VIP, CE, Deluxe, Founders, etc exists is because there is significant demand for it. If gamers didn't want to buy it, developers wouldn't sell it. 

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  • DamonVileDamonVile Vancouver, BCPosts: 4,818Member
    Originally posted by syntax42

    I'm not referring to MMOs that let you play a couple days before "launch".  Those are fine.  The problem is games which have unknown release dates, or possibly months of work to be done and no way of sticking to a firm release date, but they try to sell their game anyways.  

     

    Take a look at the Steam front page.  At least two of the last ten games released recently are in "Early Access" and have no firm release date on their pages.  Those are not the only games doing this, and I fear if the trend continues, it could be bad for the quality of games released.

    I don't have an issue with a small developer doing something like this. It almost works like a kickstarter except you actually get to see them working on a game.

    If small companies couldn't bring in money this way they'd have to get it from the type of people who think " just copy wow " is a good idea.

    If EA wanted to try and do it, I'd laugh.

  • norusdognorusdog Berlin, MDPosts: 3Member

    I agree.  Not with everything.  But I extend it to Kickstarters as well.

     

    I'm sick of seeing an interesting looking game on STEAM going to check it out and finding out it's just another "Early Access" game.

     

    I was duped, by STEAM, into ONE such purchase.  Stardrive.  I saw it.  Was intrigued.  Looked at it.  Saw it was "early access" and made a note to keep my eye on it.  Months later STEAM had it listed "Now Available" so I went in and NOWHERE did it say it was still "early access" and not complete.  However I bought it because there, again, was nothing about it.  It was just listed as any other complete new game "Now Available"

     

    I was not happy to find out I purchased a game that was still really in Beta (and even now MONTHS after that STILL not complete)

     

    the entire thing is stupid and those supporting it are delusional.  Sorry.

     

    if it's going to continue then they need to clamp down on the advertising...don't list it alongside FULL games.  These games should STAY in their own category.

     

    I don't agree that it's going to destroy the market or anything.  But it is shady and greedy on the part of these devs.  Give me a completed game and I'll happily hand you my money if your game is good.  Don't expect me to keep your little 5-man company afloat while you work on the game with no gaurentee things won't be abandoned or never released because of whatever reason.

     

    Kickstarter/Early Access -IS- garbage and a scam.  And more and more companies are jumping on that bandwagon because people are dumb enough to pay full price for an incomplete game with NO PROMISES given.

  • FusionFusion VaasaPosts: 1,391Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by tom_gore

    Back in the day it was "Test our game and report bugs, we'll pay you!"

    Then it turned into "Try our game for free and report bugs".

    Now it is "Pay for the priviledge to discover and report bugs in our game"

    The most shameless of these shenaganians charge premium for this priviledge. (i.e. early access costs more than the final product)

     

    But hey it's a free world and businesses are free to rip off stupid fuckers with too much money!

    This is the truth and makes me want to cry.

    None of this would've happened, if the gamers/customers weren't so stupid.

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  • KhinRuniteKhinRunite ManilaPosts: 879Member
    Originally posted by Slampig
    Originally posted by syntax42

    More and more games these days are being sold with the "Early Access" stipulation, and I think it needs to stop before things get out of hand.  

    Note:  I am not referring to MMOs which let you play a few days before the official launch.  I am referring to UNFINISHED games which try to get you to pay for an UNFINISHED product, with no promise of what will be in the finished version, and no influence over the development.

     

    When I started gaming, if you wanted a game, you had to go to the store and hope they had it in stock.  If it was a popular game that just released, chances were good they sold out already and had to wait on more physical copies.  The solution to that was to allow people to pre-order.  This was good for the customer because it ensured they could get their game on release while game studios and publishers had a better idea of how many copies to ship.  

    Now, that marketing tool has turned into selling your game before it has finished.  I was fine with giving beta access for pre-ordering, but only when it guaranteed they would finish the game.  The deal was that you could revoke your pre-order if you didn't like the beta.  Instead of selling pre-orders and giving beta access, "Early Access" is charging full price in many cases for an incomplete game with no way to revoke your purchase if you don't like the direction the developers take the game.  

    The "Early Access" practice needs to stop.  Games will go unfinished and customers will be angry with no way to recoup their loss.  Developers have less motivation to finish games when they already have your money.  The overall quality of games will decrease due to this "Early Access" practice.  Basically, the stick is getting too short and the carrot is too easy to reach.

     

    Does anyone disagree and feel the practice of releasing "Early Access" is a good thing for the video game entertainment industry?

    Give me some examples of games that are doing this.

    Go to store.steampowered.com and in the home page you will see a list of "Released" games. Some items in this list are marked "Early Access". These are basically unfinished games that you have to buy in order to play.

    Since I only buy games on discount price, getting into "Early access" seems highly unlikely for me. Also, if it works for other people, how is it hurting you, OP? Don't buy them if you don't like them, and no one is forcing you to buy these unfinished games.

    What I don't like though is that these games are grouped with real "Released" games. So misleading.

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon

    Whatever happened to good old common sense ?

     

    Where and when you spend your money is entirely your decision. I agree that some of the current marketing tactics are fairly despicable, but it remains my choice to fall for them or not.

     

    It almost sounds like you want the options removed for everyone because you don't like them. Are you afraid that you might make a "bad decision" by avoiding jumping into Early Access for a game that you're not sure of ? Only to find that you missed out when the game actually turns out to be quite solid and massively popular ? And then all those people who took the risk are all ahead of you...

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