Distribution Should I leave Early Access as fast as possible?

Zuurix

Member
I have game in Steam Early Access and recently I have began thinking that maybe I should try to get out of Early Access faster. I've heard Early Access has pretty bad reputation.

I wanted to do a lot things before full release, but if I wanted to leave EA faster, I could postpone them until after full release.

E.g.: I want to have 6 classes, but I could have just 3 on full release and add other 3 after full release.

So, should I postpone content for after the full release or should I stay in EA until game is 100% finished? Also, maybe there's something I should know about moving from Early Access to full release?
 
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Dantevus

Guest
Here's the thing about Early Access. It does indeed have a bad reputation and a lot of people look at a game and wonder if it's ever going to be completed or if they're just going to bail with the money they've already obtained.

However, that does not mean you are hurting yourself by going into Early Access. I would wait until you are comfortable with the product you have given them and you genuinely believe it is worth the price you are charging in its current state. If you can say that with confidence, you are ready to leave Early Access. An exception being if you think that a feature you have planned will add significant value to the player and will not take terribly long to complete. It never hurts to add new features later and players tend to look favorably upon developers who do so.

[Just my opinion of course]
 
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MrTP

Guest
The question is: Why did you enter Early Access? What was the intention behind this decision?

If you accomplished all of your EA goals (like finding out what players think about your gameplay/graphics/etc. so you can improve it) then you should be ready for finalizing the game.

But always keep in mind:
1. Most players expect a big update when switching from EA to "normal release".
2. If you break your initial promises on how you defined the feature set of the final game, the players will probably remember and criticize you for this strategy.
3. How do you plan to generate attention from media and players when leaving EA?
(You need to be prepared - not only gameplay and content wise - but also in terms of marketing & pr. Otherwise no one - except for your EA players - will find your game or notice that it leaved EA.)
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
There are good games in EA too, and I'd say that as long as it's clear the game is in active development and not just put on the boiler, players will believe it's worth their time. Post regular status updates with screenshots and stuff even if the changes aren't made public and stuff like that, especially when you need to push a deadline for some reason.
 
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Toppu

Guest
Some companies earn millions publishing solely EA games. WarZ > Infestation > Aftermath > Shattered Skies is a well known example. After selling one EA game on Steam for couple of years, they just drop it and release a "new" EA game with the same recycled assets. Nobody seems to mind, so it's certainly a valid business model this days.
 

Ethanicus

Ethan L!
Some companies earn millions publishing solely EA games. WarZ > Infestation > Aftermath > Shattered Skies is a well known example. After selling one EA game on Steam for couple of years, they just drop it and release a "new" EA game with the same recycled assets. Nobody seems to mind, so it's certainly a valid business model this days.
Just because big companies do it a lot doesn't make it valid. EA (the company) likes to make online games then shut down the servers a year later. Activision starts with cool games then forces you to pay to stay on top or, in some cases, play at all.
I'd say anything that screws your players over is not valid.
 

Mr Magnus

Viking King
Depends: is your game ready? is it finished and prepared for a full release? if so, feel free to release. else, EA is there for a reason: It provides Early Access to a game that isn't ready while it is still in development.
 

Genetix

Member
This is a great thread. I am nearly ready to finally release my game out of Early Access after 11 months - but still have so much work left I want to do, along with a small number of bugs that need to be fixed. I am still actively working on the game, but at times I wonder if I should just go ahead and release or allow it to keep growing and stretch the scope out even more. On the bright side there is still a pretty active user base, and they provide great feedback and new ideas pretty often.

The hardest part is that your game will likely never be perfect or 'complete' there is always some way to improve it - just have to really define what state the game must be in your eyes to officially release it. For myself, I can't imagine releasing with any large bugs but people do all of the time. I can't imagine not having the completed story line or features, but people do. This is a bar each of us developers must establish and live with.

Release the game when you feel it is ready and when you are happy with it, don't let money make the decision for you.
 

Warspite2

Member
I have been wondering about the same thing. I am about to release my EA game with the next week. Right now I am looking at a 8 to 12 months EA period. This is a rough guess and I am thinking it won't even be that long. I certainly don't see a reason to jump out of EA in a short period of time. As long as your game development is moving forward at a steady pace i think most players will not mind a longer EA period. I have seen some really great games in EA for nearly 12 months. Anything over 12 months could be too long and players may loose interest.
 
As someone who has a more than dead project on Early Access, here is my wisdom. If you put a game on Early Access, be prepared to finish it sooner than later. Regarding full-release, don't push for the final release until you are prepared for the world to accept the game in its current state. That means if IGN or metacritic give it a rating, it'll be based on this build. It is one of the reasons I avoid full release at least as a single developer. I love adding new things but after final release, people won't actively watch your game for updates. Your game will sell far better in full release though, assuming it sold well initially. If you sold under 2000 copies in the past few months since release, don't expect a massive surge in sales.
 

Jabbers

Member
I actively avoid Early Access games, if I see that blue banner on Steam, I instantly move on.
I am disappointed to see that attitude in a game developer. Early access isn't inherently bad. It is incredibly helpful for small game developers, and buying an early access game can be far more enjoyable than buying a finished product because you get to follow the development and watch the game evolve. It isn't true that all EA games are never completed, or that EA games are not worth money. Developers release through EA when there is a satisfactory, playable product, you aren't paying for junk.

My advice is to stay in EA for as long as you need, provided you are keeping a strong dialogue with customers. If you release no updates, no announcements, and leave it there for a year with little activity, that is when you are likely to see backlash from your customers. It isn't about how fast you release it, but rather, how much you work on it. To release it in an unfinished state is, as Seabass points out, totally unwise.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Developers release through EA when there is a satisfactory, playable product, you aren't paying for junk.
Developers are, but don't forget that there's also companies completely based around shovelware. There's several people that has bought a zombie/minecraft engine thing on the Unity Asset Store and released it as-is on Steam with just a different title screen. I wouldn't call someone a game developer unless they actually, you know, develop their game a bit before realeasing it...
 
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Chim

Guest
As a Gamer i also avoid EA.
i bought two Games in this unfinal state, just in hope it getting well.
A survival Game that i don't remember anymore, yes it was that good and the new Carmageddon, i couldn't play, it just freeze my Computer.
 
I am disappointed to see that attitude in a game developer. Early access isn't inherently bad. It is incredibly helpful for small game developers, and buying an early access game can be far more enjoyable than buying a finished product because you get to follow the development and watch the game evolve. It isn't true that all EA games are never completed, or that EA games are not worth money. Developers release through EA when there is a satisfactory, playable product, you aren't paying for junk.

My advice is to stay in EA for as long as you need, provided you are keeping a strong dialogue with customers. If you release no updates, no announcements, and leave it there for a year with little activity, that is when you are likely to see backlash from your customers. It isn't about how fast you release it, but rather, how much you work on it. To release it in an unfinished state is, as Seabass points out, totally unwise.
Well, like a lot of things, the idea of Early Access is good but it was abused on Steam to the point where buying one is more than a gamble. I don't mind supporting a project I truly believe in, but I've seen too many Kickstarter and Steam EA products either quietly die, change direction or fail to deliver. It's already enough of a gamble buying "finished" products. I think you need to prove that you can finish a game before you should start asking for money to support your unfinished project.
 

Jabbers

Member
You can be selective with what products you choose to buy on EA, without writing everything off the moment you "see the blue banner", surely?

It is true that you do get garbage slipping through EA (Air Control was a very infamous incident) but I don't think it is true to describe the system as a gamble, especially not when you can get a refund if you weren't savvy enough to smell a rat before you hit the buy button.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
The Darkest Dungeon is a game I bought in EA, and it's been really good at implementing user feedback - several things players complained about but was intentional design decisions were added as toggleable options, and several game-breaking exploits players found were made unfeasible in the next build. They're still working on the game, but made it 'fully released' because they reached a level where it was "complete enough" (such as the titular final dungeon and the ending being in place, plus all the planned things like Town Events and all the player classes). It's been handled exceptionally well, aka using EA as intended. It's a shame doing something right is so exceptional today...
 

Zuurix

Member
They're still working on the game, but made it 'fully released' because they reached a level where it was "complete enough"
I'll probably do that. Middle ground between staying in actively avoided EA and releasing unfinished game.
Well, like a lot of things, the idea of Early Access is good but it was abused on Steam to the point where buying one is more than a gamble. I don't mind supporting a project I truly believe in, but I've seen too many Kickstarter and Steam EA products either quietly die, change direction or fail to deliver. It's already enough of a gamble buying "finished" products. I think you need to prove that you can finish a game before you should start asking for money to support your unfinished project.
I actively avoid Early Access games, if I see that blue banner on Steam, I instantly move on.
Would be a lot better if you would look for good games in EA and spread the word about them. Give us, good EA developers, a chance =]
 
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