A few thoughts on Early Access and Kickstarter Projects

I’m a big proponent and supporter of both Steam Early Access and Kickstarter projects, but they aren’t created equal and not every game has the same level of success in the development process. I’ve backed several projects and so far, most are progressing very well. Some good projects worth mentioning are Assetto Corsa, Plague Inc, Shroud of the Avatar and SpinTires.

However, not all of them have been gems. Many start off great, then hit some sort of wall and everything grinds to a halt. I’ve had this happen with a couple of games such as Next Car Game: Wreckfest and Victory: Age of Racing. Both had solid demos going, but now they’re languishing. From all the comments, Victory is dead and everyone assumes the same for Wreckfest.

Towns would probably be the worst example of an Early Access/Greenlight game gone wrong. It got a lot of support from the community and had a lot of sales. Then the devs kissed the crowd goodnight and walked off the stage. They hired some other sap to take over the work, but he got in over his head and the game was ditched a second time. Problem is, Towns is still listed for sale on Steam and has even been featured on the front page several times. However, check out the reviews and it is nothing but hundreds of complaints from buyers who got ripped off.

Come on Steam, what the hell are you doing? That game needs to be ripped down and those devs should be banned from ever selling a game through your system again.

I also think it’s pretty damn shitty to sell DLC for a game that is in Early Access. During the Steam sale I saw the game TerraTech had beta access to the Early Access code. Um, what the hell is that? Steer clear of that kind of nonsense.

Clearly there needs to be some rules put in place. A game that sits in Early Access needs to come under review to determine if progress is being made or if the game should be pulled. At the very least, check the negative comments and see what the hell is going on. Steam needs to get a handle on some of these games that are going on 2 years in Early Access. Time to kick the kids out of the nest!

It’s games like this that ruin the process for others and more examples are showing up. I’ve become critical of backing Early Access games and watch the updates for awhile before buying a copy. Several games I thought would be fun to support have gone dormant and defunct and the reviews are littered with all manner of pissed off people who feel cheated and ripped off. I guess you have to go with the old saying, Buyer Beware. I actually just tossed a couple of games out of my Wishlist because the negative reviews are stacking up and development has stalled or gone in the wrong direction.

I still think Early Access and Kickstarter are great ideas and allow developers a way to reach an audience without having to saddle up with a big studio who is more interested in pushing out DLC and making a sequel.

I don’t normally put too much stock in negative reviews, but when an Early Access title starts getting dozens of them it’s time to pay attention.

I’ve also become much more judicious about looking for updates and checking the Devs website to see if they’re even still around. The Victory site just links back to Steam, there’s not a single trace left of them.

Live and learn I suppose.

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