With Valve set to end the Steam Greenlight Program some time soon, there are many questions as to what will replace it. Their current Indie-friendly system, Steam Early Access, is the best bet to take Greenlight’s place and make Steam the “self-publishing” platform Valve wants it to be. Now, Early Access has seen some changes that affect the in-progress works currently in the program, as well as those being added from here on to whatever it is becoming.
A recent update to the Early Access FAQ adds a few details including the fact that all games available through the program may never be finished, and that anyone paying for said games is merely buying a copy of what the game is as of that moment. In short, Valve has disclosed that no one is guaranteed a finished game since it was bought as an early alpha. The specific line added to the FAQ is under the header “When Will These Games Release” and is as follows:
“It’s up to the developer to determine when they are ready to ‘release’. Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses,” the FAQ states. “You should be aware that some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.”
Likely this is a policy that helps set-up, and may continue into, whatever method Steam later uses for “self-publishing”. But for right now, it absolves Valve of legal issues arising from Early Access games being pulled from the library or otherwise abandoned. Such is the case recently when Earth: Year 2066 was taken off for being exceptionally terrible, and the famous example of The War Z with it’s exploitative in-game purchases (this game, by-the-way, is now known as DayZ). Valve has given some explanation regarding the change:
“The changes to the FAQ are intended to help set customer expectations of what may or may not happen over the course of development of an Early Access game.” “In this case, it became apparent that further clarification would help customers evaluate their potential purchase of Early Access titles.”
– Doug Lombardi: Valve Marketing Director