The concept for Steam Early Access is quite cool. It's a way for teams to get their beta versions of games into the hands of players directly through Steam. Of course, certain developers have tarnished the system's reputation by abandoning development or releasing a completely unfinished product to get gamers off their backs over the "Early Access" tag.
Although it has seemed as such for over a year now, Valve was apparently taking notes. This week they revealed an updated list of rules and guidelines for all Early Access developers to keep in mind, lest they lose the ability to sell their product on Steam.
Some of the more interesting rules and guidelines are as follows:
- "Do not make specific promises about future events."
- "Don't overcharge Steam customers."
- "Don“t launch in Early Access if you can“t afford to develop with very few or no sales."
- "Don't launch in Early Access without a playable game."
- "Don't launch in Early Access if you are done with development."
These are definitely a great start as long as Valve ensures that everyone is following their policies. Of course, some of these statements could easily be sidestepped by a conflict of opinions. One developer may not feel they are "overcharging" customers, while customers believe it to be the case. Similarly, a "playable" game is hard to nail down. Does this mean the game has to be playable as intended or is okay if you have a blank avatar that can move around a barren field? With that said, these updates are better than Valve remaining entirely silent on the matter.
What do you think of the new rules and guidelines for Early Access? Do you play Early Access titles?