Steam’s Early Access program has provided developers with a unique opportunity to have their game on display to consumers while it’s still being completed. Valve launched the program last year in March as a way for developers to gain funding for their game while they’re still working out the kinks. Gamers that buy into these alpha and beta builds to help spread the word about the game, as well as provide developers with direct feedback about what the buyers want more or less of. Previews are no longer restricted to privileged critics.
“We like to think of games and game development as services that grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and this community. There have been a number of prominent titles that have embraced this model of development recently and found a lot of value in the process,” Valve wrote on its Early Access FAQ page.
Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter-funded game Broken Age ran out of money halfway through development, so as a way to bring in more cash to back the rest of the game he put part one up for sale on Steam Early Access. This revenue has helped push development forward with promises of part 2 coming eventually.
While Broken Age’s part one is fully playable without any bugs, that’s not the case for all Early Access games. When you buy into an Early Access title, you’re buying in to the development process, seeing the game evolve from all its stages — good and bad. So, what the game looks like today may not be the case tomorrow, which means downloading updates constantly and dealing with down-times. The experience has its ups and downs, but the bragging rights of playing a game before it officially releases — saying you backed it and previewed it first — is something you maybe interested in.
Here are a few Steam Early Access games that may be worth sinking your money into.