Steam Early access is a great way to support small independent developers and fresh ideas, while not wait to play the finished product too soon.
Early Access allows players to purchase a title before its official release date, and in return be able to play the title while working on it. The idea was popularized by Minecraft, since its alpha version became a hit in 2010, nearly a year and a half before the finished version went on sale. While Valve ensures that Early Access is “the way the game should be done,” he also added disclaimers to the individual product page, noting that it could be that those games never end.
“We’ve seen that many of these titles are sold as keys on other websites where there is no explanation of what Early Access is or what the current state of your product is now,” the company says. That’s going to stop. Early Access developers must also avoid “specific promises about future events,” such as when a game will be finished or what features are planned for future updates. “Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realized,” Valve writes.
These are suggestions and mainly common sense, though they are worth highlighting and repeating, because quite a few Early Access developers have made these mistakes.
- Don’t launch in Early Access if you can’t afford to develop with very few or no sales.
- Make sure you set expectations properly everywhere you talk about your game.
- Don’t launch in Early Access without a playable game (tech demos don’t count as playable games)
- Don’t launch in Early Access if you are done with development.