Early Access Games: Good or Bad?

Early Access games are a relatively new phenomenon. The good old days required developers to completely finish their game development before releasing a title resulting in a robust gaming experience but with the ability for devs to update games after release we have seen more rocky release. Unfortunately, some full release games should have followed this early access route since the release product is far from a complete experience. Here’s looking at you, No Man’s Sky! So do early access games combat the recent spew of highly disappointed players from full release games with the promise of future improvements in incomplete games?

What is Early Access?

Early access games are essentially games that are not complete. This means there is the expectation that when you buy an early access game it will see significant updates to help shape the game into a fun and complete gaming experience. The most rewarding part of early access games is that the players who purchase these ‘work in progress’ games are the ones who have the biggest input into its development. Not to mention, these early access games are often cheaper than fully released games.

We Happy Few is available in Early Access on Steam

Despite all these positives there are some things to consider. Buying an early access game is a risk as the developers can be ignorant to the most requested features for a game and there is also no guarantee these games will be developed any further from your point of purchase. That said, there are not many examples where this has happened and the fact is many early access games prove to be successful in many ways.

Early Access Successes

ARK: Survival Evolved has been a big hit on Steam, Xbox and PS4

There have been some popular early access games that have fired on all cylinders. One of which that stands out is ARK: Survival Evolved. Starting as a meagre survival game with dinosaurs, it has grown massively adding plenty of new dinosaurs, game stability improvements, new islands and more. Players have responded very well to this close relationship with the devs as they have delivered features that the community requested early on in development.

Other games that are showing promise include The Forest, Gang Beasts, Subnautica and We Happy Few as these games have all maintained strong communication with their players and added desirable features based on community feedback.These are shining beacons of how to develop an early access game and often have high review scores on their relative store pages.

Astroneer has got plenty of attention since it released in December 2016

Despite these games showing promise, there is one game that stand out above the rest; Astroneer. This game is the game No Man’s Sky promised to be and it is not a complete game yet. This is a multiplayer survival game where your astronaut character must survive in space by locating and building an array of space utilities. Once you have got the survival basics down then you can explore the vastness of space whilst you upgrade your gear along the way. There may not be creatures to contend with or a plot to follow but they can only make the game better if they are added.

Get In There Early

Survive against savage cannibals after your plane crashes in The Forest

The bottom line is that this game is complete enough to enjoy and for approx £15 this presents great value for money. If the developers support this game for a long time then this is better value for money than most full priced game that rely on paid DLCs to provide additional content for players. There is a chance you will find little value in some early access games but there are some gems that also give players a chance to add to the core game play mechanics and design. If you have ever been on the fence on early access games then you should take the plunge and try them out. Just look out for the community to determine which ones are worth your money.


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