As of this writing, the most successful Early Access game to date is Fortnite. I have put hundreds of hours into a game, that quite honestly, I am not very good at. But the allure of beating 99 other players is incredibly addicting and winning is quite the adrenaline rush even if it doesn’t happen often. Every time you login, there is a banner that appears stating that the title is in Early Access, but honestly it’s difficult to tell because of just how polished the game is for an MMO. Early access for the most part is a massive risk, a game may never leave it’s alpha stage and there remains the possibility of a game never being released. It has been almost seven years since Star Citizen started development and unsurprisingly there is no firm release date. So why do people invest their hard earned money into early access or kickstarter?
Simply put, it’s because the end product should represent the feedback of the community. This is one of the rare instances where the consumer has considerable power. Now whether the developer heeds the advice of the community is where the inquiry should lie. Games like Fortnite see constant development, for example: the map has become more dense, weekly limited modes are constantly being introduced, it all feels like Epic is taking the time to listen to its community to bring forth the best product possible. With that type of care, the game has seen a massive rise in popularity. It’s the most talked about game on the internet for a reason. Everything is a meme.
Another example of an Early Access title who’s transparency should be followed is Dead Cell by Motion Twin, a metroidvania, rogue-lite game that is an absolute blast to play. You can find it on Steam and after spending a few hours on the game, I am hooked. I wasn’t involved at the beginning because I am a skeptic when it comes to Early Access (I also didn’t have my laptop upgraded), but games like Dead Cell can make you believe that the developer is actually listening to its audience. The game is frantic, fun, challenging, and is constantly adding new ideas to make it fresh and exciting, If you have the chance to play the game, you feel like you’re taken back to when Symphony of the Night came out, and that game kicked a ton of ass. Wow, I’m showing my age. Like Fortnite, it doesn’t feel like an early access game due to the high quality.
It isn’t however, all sunshine and roses with crowdfunding. Because then there are games like Mighty No. 9, which in retrospect should’ve been a massive success. If you were told that the creator of Mega Man was literally developing another Mega Man-like game, you would assume it’s going to be high quality. But then surprisingly you’d be wrong, the game is an absolute mess and is a chore to play. Although thankfully, Mega Man is getting a new entry in the series which will hopefully remove the stain of Mighty No. 9, but holy crap this is a huge example of why kickstarter can be a massive risk. There is no excuse for a game that took years to develop to be this poor in quality, it just should not happen.
What it all boils down to is transparency. Consumer’s are connected in a way that wasn’t possible 20 years ago. We see and know everything because of the advancement’s found in social media. The moment that a developer stops being transparent is the time fans should be nervous. Shenmue 3 is on my list of most anticipated games, yet we haven’t really seen anything in regards to the game since it started development. CGI trailers do not quell our uneasiness as consumers. In fact, its damn worrisome, because there are far too many examples of games like Godus (Peter Molyneux everybody…) where they end product becomes far from what was promised. If a developer is transparent, then the consumer will more than likely remain committed to development. It should be understood that the product is not only an investment by the developer, it’s an investment by the consumer.
It’s all about trust
What are your thoughts on Early Access and Kickstarter? If you’d like to see me be average at games while my friends look amazing, follow me on Twitch at Doochyd.