Steam's Early Access program has allowed wonderful things to happen to the gaming community. With it, small and large game developers are able to pitch their ideas and early versions of the game to Steam players. In return, Steam players are able to support developers in ironing out bugs, optimising their game, offer multiple language support, and even introducing features that the developers never even thought of.
The Early Access program has, in a sense, given gamers a direct phone line to the game developers. The gaming world was at peace, but that all changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Avatar: The Last Airbender jokes aside, there have been instances where this developer-player relationship didn't work out. Mean words were exchanged on forums, developers were not heard from, and players won't be seeing their money again. So, here are 3 red flags to look out for when buying Early Access games!
1. Look For How Long the Game Will Be in Early Access
Always make sure you know how long the developers intend for the game to be in Early Access. Not all developers will use Early Access in the same way, and you may end up waiting much longer than you initially expected! A good example to highlight this is The Magic Circle - this game was in Early Access for a mere two weeks in order to fund multi-language support before the full launch. On the other hand, games like DayZ are stuck in Early Access for 2.5 to 3 years! Of course, that's understandable - most games require a lot of work to create what the developers and players want the game to be. But if you're not willing to wait for developers to fix that glitch where you get stuck in a rock, reconsider your options!
2. Check the Steam Forums for Active Developers
A common misconception with Steam's Early Access program is that all developers will see their games through to the end. I mean, that's what all developers want to achieve - but no one can predict issues that they might encounter. So, in order to make sure an Early Access game is alive and well, check out the Steam Forums! Early Access developers will often be on there to post updates, respond to questions and feedback, or simply enjoying the funny in-game shenanigans from players. A great example of this is seen in the The Long Dark - constant developer-player interactions, positive reactions from players, and they've fixed that disappearing rifle issue. Thank you, Hinterland Studios!
3. Keep in Mind What YOU Want Out of the Game
Now, this is the most important thing gamers must consider before deciding to buy an Early Access Game. Whether it's playing by yourself, playing with friends or even playing with strangers - you have to know what you want to get out of the game. There's no point in paying for a game if you don't know what the finished product will look like. Player reviews and YouTube videos are extremely helpful in getting an idea of what it's like to play the game. If it's not what you're looking for, maybe wait for the next update. Just like the day-time in Don't Starve Together, its right around the corner!
With these 3 tips in mind you too will be able to survive Steam's Early Access games - and there are some great ones available now! Mosey on over to the Steam store and see if you can spot a gem of a game. Remember, even the roughest gem can polish up nicely!