From a dev's perspective, is there a downside to early access?

Discussion in 'Commercial Games Discussion' started by Phenax, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. Phenax

    Phenax Veteran Veteran

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    Hello,

    So my game Dragon's Hope will be a commercial one and I have a specific price tag in mind for the finished game. I don't want to fully release it though until it is absolutely worth that price tag. To be sure about that I don't want to rely on my own estimation. I wouldn't want to release a demo either which is like a 80% finished game. This is why I'm wondering if there is any downside to early access on Steam. The potential downsides from the player's perspective are obvious, but for me as a dev? I've read in a different thread on this subforum that the early access run is important for a game, but why is that? I could get testing in other ways too and from what I've seen from other early access RPG Maker games is that they often only get a couple of reviews on Steam.
     
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  2. gstv87

    gstv87 Veteran Veteran

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    yes-ish.
    excluding the whole testing and feedback issue, if you release in EA you risk showcasing your game's concept for copycats to copy it, repack it as their own with different technology and releasing it as a completed product with a lesser price.
    you end up with a market already having a similar product to your own, and players not wanting to try your product because they've already satisfied their curiosity.

    (of course, you still have players with actual taste, who wouldn't fall for that, but the possibility still exists)

    early access is just a way for AAA developers to put their product out there before the competition, when they think they have a market for it.
    you shouldn't worry much about *that*, and instead focus on the feedback regarding OS across different platforms, which is what Steam focuses on.
     
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  3. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    I don't agree with the copycat aspect. Most people don't watch other people's stuff. However, I do agree that early access is a AAA developers thing. There is no real benefits from doing an early access version for your game. People are just going to play it, then they won't replay it when the full game is out. They'll judge your game like it is a final product.

    What you can do is have a free demo that covers a little portion of your game. That's what I'm currently doing. I'm planing on selling my final game (low price though) and in order to promote it, I put a little demo (like 1h30-2h of gameplay) that is completely free. That way, if people play the demo and really like it, they will maybe buy the final product.
     
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  4. Uzuki

    Uzuki Kawaii on the streets, Senpai in the sheets Veteran

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    Outside of maybe losing momentum on your game getting eyes on it because of the EA tag then no there isn't much downside on your end. Is your game story/character driven? That might be a major turn off for players though. Like you said people don't want to play 80% of a game getting engrossed in the story, setting and characters and then see that that's all they're going to get for several months. And RPGs are hard to get back into once you stop playing them for more then a couple of days. It would probably be better if you did just released a demo of a small section of the game and if you're strapped for funding start a kickstarter or indigogo and explain that you just need that little push to wrap up an almost complete game.
     
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  5. Philosophus Vagus

    Philosophus Vagus The drunken bird dog of rpg maker Veteran

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    The biggest problem I've seen with early access feom adevelopment perspective is backers who do not understand what EA is when they buy into it and then try to hold devs to unrealistic standards as a result. Go look on 7 days to die's steam forum if you want examples of this, people complaining constantly things like the fact that they aren't fixing bugs (when the game is in alpha stage) angry it updates to infrequently, angry it updates to frequently and breaks their saves etc and a lot of these irate consumers will m then go and review-bomb your unfinished ea product based almost soley on the criticism that it...is an unfinished product.

    Granted some of the distrust is justified as devs use ea for some bad practices and I personally almost never purchase ea because I've been burned before (games rereleasing as a new paid product once the ea period is over with the fixed version never being updated for ea purchasers) but still, unrealistic expectations have destroyed the reputations of good game concepts in ea in the past.

    Honestly not sure how worthwhile it really is for indie devs, seems more of a AA thing to help them better compete with AAA budgets, at least that's how I see it.
     
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  6. Phenax

    Phenax Veteran Veteran

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    This is exactly what I was planning on doing. Then I read in the catacombs of this forum "the early access run is important". And I got curious, fear of missing out, doing it the wrong way. I agree with the concerns for ea for a game like mine. There wouldn't be much replay value for people who played it in the early access stage, even if there are a lot of improvements. It's a somewhat linear single player game after all. I'll release a demo with chapter 1 of the game and for the other 3 chapters I'll have to trust myself and my testers. Additional funds would have been good for the game but maybe there will be people willing to donate after playing the demo. Not getting my hopes up for that though. Risk will have to be taken.
     
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  7. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    @Phenax I think there is a difference between early access and updating/patching the game after the release. The importance is that the player can have access to the full gameplay, the whole story, on day one. There is absolutely no problem adding additional side quests, or fixing some stuff afterward.
     
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  8. Seirein

    Seirein Veteran Veteran

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    It depends on whether or not gamers decide that it's okay for you to allow players to play your game before it's finished.
     
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  9. dulsi

    dulsi Veteran Veteran

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    Early access is useful for network and sandbox games. For something with rpg maker, I wouldn't use it. Even with a network/sandbox game, I would try to avoid it. The risk of a bad reputation makes it not worth the funding. (But I generally don't back software on kickstater either. I just don't believe they really know how work is left in most cases.)
     
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  10. Tuomo L

    Tuomo L Oldbie Veteran

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    No there's no downside to doing Early Acccess, as long as your product's in a state that can be released. I just finished my own Early Access very recently and it helped shape the product into far better for consumers in the end.
     
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  11. Andar

    Andar Veteran Veteran

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    There is a big downside to early access especially for indie developer - something that doesn't apply to big companies.

    That downside is that you have only half to one chance to get it right, and if you blow that chance then your name as a developer is destroyed.

    The problem is that there are too many cases of projects that went into early access to pay for development, and were abandoned because the developers never got enough money to work even part-time on that game for years.
    That resulted in a lot of players being cautious on which games they pay EA for, because no one wants to end up with paying for nothing.

    For big companies that is not a problem because the players know that those companies have the resources to finish the project and most likely use EA as a paid beta.
    For small indies with their first project ever that is not the case...

    So if you go to early access as an indie you should be far enough into game development that you can reasonably expect the game to be finished within a year at maximum, or at least be able to constantly update if the game will take longer to finish.
    If you can't do that and possibly even fail to deliver the project, then your name will be "burned" for the players and you'll never get a chance at a good EA again.
     
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  12. lianderson

    lianderson Veteran Veteran

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    If you're that far done with it, then you're good.
     
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  13. FluffexStudios

    FluffexStudios Veteran Veteran

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    I think early access is only good for bigger games such as multiplayer focused games (call of duty) as those are more replayable compared to RPG games. Additionally, indie developers like us only really has one chance to push our game out there due to the widespread flood of other games on steam. Hence, it's better to showcase the best product rather an incomplete/buggy one that's in early access.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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