GOG Looking Into Its Own, Better Early Access

By Nathan Grayson on May 20th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

It is the year 2014, and the concept of Early Access has gone from outlier to institution. I’m hardly even surprised anymore when a game is announced one day and then I can play it the next. I can only imagine that Super Early Access will come next, with developers sending us napkin doodles and hastily scrawled out brainstorms they had while on the toilet. For now, though, the likes of Steam and Desura may soon have some company. GOG seems to have come down with its own case of alphamania, though it’s utterly adamant that it plans on doing things The GOG Way.

Eurogamer asked CD Projekt head – and therefore, proxy GOG co-founder – Marcin Iwinski if the DRM-free storefront might get in on the ground floor of the trend of letting gamers get in on the ground floor. He replied with optimism, but noted that GOG standards wouldn’t be any more lax just because games aren’t “done” yet.

“We’re obviously looking at it. As you know our concept is different; first of all it’s DRM-free and second it’s curated. I’m often very lost in a lot of stores – apps being my example today. Or even Steam. I don’t know what’s happening; there’s hundreds of releases a month, and I really believe – and our community’s clearly showing that – there is a place for a platform which is choosing the stuff.”

“With the approach that Steam has they decided not to, and it’s fine, it works extremely well for them and some developers, but it has threats like the one of bad Early Access games. And it’s tempting, it’s really tempting: you’re a developer and you can get to Early Access and charge 40-whatever for your game, for your non-working alpha. And they’re pocketing immediately.”

Iwinski’s hypothetical solution, then, would be to ensure that consumers can get a refund no matter what – at least, in cases where a game is unsatisfactory and updates infrequently/not at all.

So it’d be a double-safeguard, essentially. You’d get GOG’s curation and then, were that to fail, a guarantee that you wouldn’t be stuck with an ever-drooping frown and an emaciated piggy bank.

It’s a pretty idealistic way of looking at the situation, but I can’t fault GOG and CDP for wanting to do things right. While it’s easy to write off Early Access as a sketchy proposition, it’s also helped a lot of games get better – and some get off the ground in the first place. So long as there are people around who insist on quality and commitment to finished games – whether that’s storefronts or fans – then things will likely get better. Or at the very least, outright scams will continue to be a rarity, not something you come to dread like mines in a minefield. We’ll see, though. Early Access might be the new flavor of the week, but it’s still in relative infancy. Here’s hoping it grows into something good.

, .

60 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    “second it’s curated” – HELL YEA!
    Finally someone had a good idea in regards of Early Access.

    “there is a place for a platform which is choosing the stuff” – sure there is! GOG, you never disappoint me!

    • trjp says:

      Curated by who tho?

      Curation only works if it’s done fairly and properly – and that almost never happens.

      People say Steam was ‘curated’ – it wasn’t, it just had a shitty submission system which meant most people gave-up on it – THAT was the curation.

      I’m not 100% GoG will do a good job – they have a history of doing stupid things such as their ‘closing down’ stunt and stupid ‘flash sales’

      There’s also this

      http://impromptugames.com/?p=483

      So we know they strongarm developers when it comes to pricing – which I find heinous

      • Ich Will says:

        I take it you find all retail experience heinous then because there isn’t a shop or store, virtual or real which doesn’t refuse to stock products that they deem not right or not at the right price for their shoppers.

        • Premium User Badge

          Cinek says:

          It’s not just retail stores. GamersGate and pretty much every other digital distribution platform does exactly the same.

          Hell, even RockPaperShotgun does the same and “curates” games picking only the titles that are worth their time.

        • Premium User Badge

          RobF says:

          Pricing control is one of the most important things a developer can retain, really. A store doesn’t know what you need to make to break even, it doesn’t know what you need to live and them putting themselves in the middle without proper discussion can absolutely fuck developers over. Influx isn’t the only game they’ve reportedly done this with either.

          Like, Valve will possibly suggest a price they think is better for you. This isn’t a “change it or we don’t carry it”, it’s a “we think this will make you the most money”. You are, of course, absolutely free to disagree and run with something else. It will not effect whether you -can- be on Steam or not.

          It’s just a fairly awful thing for GOG to be doing. Whether a store is locking prices high (a la old casual portals before the great Amazon price-bust-up) or pushing them down with intent, that level of price control isn’t really good for anyone except for MAYBE the store and can way too easily lead to devs being put in awkward financial straights.

          Finding the right price for a title is really important. The balance of what people will spend on a thing vs what a dev will need to make in order to eat and live and feed the cats and trim that beard is a delicate one and best not left to arbitrary store rulings.

          The further down the food chain of indie you go, the more every penny and every customer really counts. It might be no skin off the nose of a larger dev having their game slightly cheaper on one service but for another, it can be the difference between making rent or not.

      • Eclipse says:

        steam was curated and had a GREAT submission system, you had direct contact with someone that evaluated your game, a real QA. Now it’s shit. Who says otherwise is probably a developer that tried to submit a shitty game before greenlight and got shafted

        • trjp says:

          You’re wrong and I can prove it!

          Valve have themselves admitted – on several occasions – that their submission system was flawed. Many submissions were simply ignored due to lack of people and the odds of a solo developer getting their attention were tiny (many of those solo developers have since made amazing games!)

          They’ve also said that they never made a specific effort to ‘curate’ – they simply didn’t focus resources (or “bandwidth” in their speak) onto the problem and the result was perceived as ‘curation’.

          They had Bad Rats for fuck’s sake – you cannot talk about ‘curation’

      • Premium User Badge

        Continuity says:

        Curation is a good thing provided there is competition. If you have a single monolithic company that’s doing most of the retailing then curation gives them too much power which would be easy to abuse or misused, but so long as there are alternative platforms then curation does the buyer a service by weeding out poor quality or faulty products, and if the baby does occasionally get thrown out with the bath water the other plat form can stock that product which will put pressure on the first platform to also stock it.

      • cylentstorm says:

        Forced pricing? Sure…if you don’t sell it yourself. Color me not surprised. Anyhoo–I played Influx–it was okay, but I definitely would not have paid more than the asking price. I dug the style and atmosphere–it was sort of soothing for a physics-based puzzler, but it reminded me of something one would see on tablets. Good effort, and ten bucks seems like a nice fit.

        Also: Sphere, by Rob Lach http://www.roblach.com/

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    Sounds great, but ya know, double-edged sword and all that. Trivia: GoG were actually not interested in having Thomas Was Alone on their store.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      And that’s suppose to prove what? If you have a point – make it.

      • Borsook says:

        Well, I can’t speak for OP, but the problem with heavy curating is that they sometimes exclude games that I for one would like to buy. I find that curating limited to technical quality, bugs etc. is a good thing, but when they go beyond that and try to judge what is good enough, they may simply be making choices based on their taste, which cannot be universal.

        • Premium User Badge

          Cinek says:

          “sometimes exclude games that I for one would like to buy.” – and…. where is the problem? You’ll be able to buy them from other sources, only without guarantees.

          ” I find that curating limited to technical quality, bugs etc.” – there’s a difference between curating bugs and selling product that just isn’t there at all while devs got no capacity to build it – that’s something that GOG team can determine with their insight into the developers, and we players cannot.

          That’s why this idea from GOG is a win-win. Players win in having guarantees, devs win in having an insight into their development from experienced team that can tell them whatever their goals are realistic or not.

          • trjp says:

            You cannot technically curate PC games – no-one could possibly afford to do it – even thinking about it suggests you have no idea what you’re talking about.

            re: Steam Early Access – it’s not really missing ‘curation’ – it’s missing a disclaimer which says

            “This game is in Early Access – if you are a moron, do not press any buttons here”

            That would solve it.

          • Borsook says:

            If you want to defend some point, it can be always done. So, yes, you can claim that excluding games that people can buy is good, I guess i brings great benefits, that I just fail to see. But let’s go farther, let’s have a store that sells only one game, that choice thing is really bad for you. Or maybe even a game store should sell zero games, saving us from choosing whether to buy or not.

          • Premium User Badge

            Cinek says:

            trjp – What you’re talking about? They don’t plan to curate all PC games, just these that will post their application to GOG.
            Your disclaimer is a BS, there’s plenty of scams there – scams that are a real problem, not something imagined by a few gamers, a problem that GOG obviously can see and will do their best to migrate. Or heck – read post by Lobotomist down below – it’s another problem that GOG migrates at the same time mobilizing developers to avoid shit like the one Lobotomist wrote about.

            Borsook – what drugs you ride on? Cause I’d like some.

    • sabrage says:

      I’d rather have good games excluded than bad games included, but then Slender and Daikatana are already on GOG. I don’t know who’s playing all these unfinished games though.

      • Rao Dao Zao says:

        Spoiler: Daikatana isn’t actually that bad and I’m a much better human being for having played it.

        • Phantom_Renegade says:

          John Romero we’ve talked about this, you can’t go on forums, pretend to be someone else who actually liked Daikatana.

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            At least it’s not Derek Smart. Dr. Derek Smart.

            I miss Derek Smarts forums shenanigans, actually.

          • Rao Dao Zao says:

            I’m not sure if shouting “SUCK IT DOWN” is appropriate or not at this point.

          • Geebs says:

            Only after you’ve made us your bitch. Speaking of which, when is that actually going to happen?

            Yours in anticipation,

            The Gaming Public.

      • Borsook says:

        Yes, but what is a bad game? Sure, there are extreme examples, but generally it is so hard to say, it boils down to personal preference. Some people could claim for example that a game that can’t be finished is bad, but Daggerfall could not be finished in its 1.0 and still was a great game for many. A store should be a store, not a church that tries to tell you what is good or not. A store should not sell products that are broken in obvious way (quite clear in gog’s case, e.g. a game that can’t be installed on a new PC) but why shouldn’t it allow the players to decide what they like? I am sure most of us can think of game that got bad reviews and was frowned upon, but we still had fun with it. And those who don’t like it don’t have to buy it after all… I just fail to see the downside of larger offer.

        • Premium User Badge

          webs1 says:

          Considering this and other posts by you I’m really trying to figure out if you are playing dumb on purpose to prove a point or genuinely believe what you are writing.
          As in real life, any online store offering computer games has every right to chose it’s merchandise.
          Try showing up at your local upscale furniture store and asking why they don’t sell any IKEA-style stuff..
          The equation
          more merchandise = more purchases = more revenue
          may be tempting, but ruining your reputation is a real risk that eventually may lead to less revenue.
          Of course, chosing games according to your (collective) taste can be hit and miss, but that’s a risk you have to take.

  3. Bahoxu says:

    I’m just so tired of all the early-access and kickstarters. I wish i could filter all of that out and only see games that actually exist.

    • Borsook says:

      You can’t? Most gamefronts make a clear division between Early access and finished products.

      • Premium User Badge

        All is Well says:

        I think they mean they want to hide early access stuff, not just have it pointed out to them that it is indeed early access. Steam, where every other featured or otherwise advertised game is early access, does not let you filter it, and neither does Gamersgate – these are the two stores I use apart from GOG, I don’t know about Desura and others.

        • trjp says:

          Steam hides Early Access pretty well – they don’t appear as New Releases (they do appear on Coming Soon tho) and few are ‘featured’

          End of the day tho – Steam has a shitty front-end and always has had – GoG’s is arguably even more primitive (no public profiles or a download/update tool!? – it’s 2014 for fuck’s sake!)

          • Premium User Badge

            All is Well says:

            But 4 of the 12 currently featured games are early access – surely 1/3 amounts to a bit more than “few”? Granted, only 2 of the games advertised with large images (don’t know what they’re called, if they even have a name) are early access, but still, this is the very front page of the store, so I can’t really agree with the assessment that steam does anything to hide early access games.

          • sinister agent says:

            Quite so. Gog is the only one of these sites that doesn’t get on my fucking nerves.

          • trjp says:

            It’s worth noting that the ‘featured’ stuff on the Steam Homepage is largely allocated based on actual sales (or other agreements they may have made with publishers)

            If there’s a lot of EA stuff there – it’s because it’s selling well – ironic eh?

            As got GoG – they just pride themselves on being ‘different’ – for games which are on Steam they don’t even offer an option of a key “because hipster bullshit excuse here” and I’m still downloading/updating games manually from their site like it’s 1998!?

            There’s no reason not to offer an optional Steam Key – there’s no reason not to have a lightweight client which automates downloads/updates – they don’t have them because “same hipster bullshit excuse here”.

            I think they should cut-the-shit and insist on posting you games on floppy disks – if you’re gonna roll, roll properly…

          • sinister agent says:

            They do have a downloader. It gives you the installers and lets you play them. I buy a game, I get that game, for good, with no bullshit.

            I do agree that they should offer steam keys as an option as some people would like that – never occurred to me before. But otherwise, you really ought to do better than just repeatedly saying “hipster” like it even means anything. The only one claiming that people like gog because it’s “like 1998″ is you.

          • The Random One says:

            GoG doesn’t offer Steam keys because they’re in direct competition with Steam. Frankly, I find it way more surprising that the Humble Store does offer keys when they also are in competition with Steam. I think that it’s because of how Humble came about, when they set up a store they were in a position where Steam couldn’t say they wouldn’t offer keys to their competitors without coming across as bad guys.

            It is incredibly disingenious to imply that GoG doesn’t give Steam keys because they just don’t wanna.

    • sinister agent says:

      Same here. It’s getting to the point where I’m barely reading the vast majority of posts on sites I used to check every day, because fewer of them are about games that are actually finished.

      • The Random One says:

        Do you really think so? I think the fraction of posts about games that are coming out two years from now remains the same. It’s just that some three years ago all of them were “watch this three-minute trailer and feel the hype!” and nowadays they are split between that, “go give it money on Kickstarter now!” and “go give it money on Steam to play Early Access now!”

  4. Drake Sigar says:

    In theory, I guess GoG could improve on early-access because they’re not just opening the floodgates to anyone who feels like experimenting with the MS Paint program.

  5. Auron says:

    [...] I can only imagine that Super Early Access will come next, with developers sending us napkin doodles and hastily scrawled out brainstorms they had while on the toilet. [...]

    That’s called Kickstarter.

  6. HadToLogin says:

    (Not so) long ago people were predicting “Gaming Crash like in 1980s is coming – just look at poor state of AAA gaming – example: clones everywhere. Good thing we have indies, they will rule the world”.

    Now you can easily say Crash can come as well from indie scene, with all those Kickstarters, Early Accesses, bazillion of Bundles, and then there’s whole “fun” part of indie gaming and development…

    • The Random One says:

      I was saying that and will continue to say it. The crash didn’t come from an excess of low quality stuff, but from a lack of high quality stuff. There are a lot of bad indies because they dare to experiment, but even bad indies are interesting. AAA games are polished but forgettable, and will become more and more so.

  7. Lobotomist says:

    Yet than i entered early access for number of games , that simply stopped being developed.

    Not officially , like “Towns” mind you. That was just obnoxious. They pocketed over million dollars for game in alpha. And just stopped development before the final product was made.

    No,
    These other games simply slow down new builds. So they are not “cancelled” but there is also no sign of them ever reaching final build. (for example one guy working on it for hour a week)

  8. Frank says:

    “I can only imagine that Super Early Access will come next, with developers sending us napkin doodles and hastily scrawled out brainstorms they had while on the toilet.”

    I’m a fan of Kickstarter, but it sometimes amounts to this.

  9. Frank says:

    One nice thing about steam for devs, I imagine, is the easy updating. With gog, I guess they’d have to manage that themselves, eh?

  10. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    It used to be Good Old Games. Now it’s Hopefully-decent Not-yet-released Probably-games?

  11. elanaiba says:

    I think Steam is also moving towards curated frontend, of the kind that you choose yourself. The Steam fronted of RockPaperShotgun, for example.

    Early access can be tricky, but keep in mind that Steam doesn’t just send money to you as a developer (I’m working on Door Kickers). I think it takes 2 months before you get your first check from them.

  12. lasersharks says:

    I think Itch.io is best service, you can add your game without any restriction. it may be a small experimental game not for general taste but you can still upload it and sell it. that is freedom and that is great. and also nowadays they dont cut from developers, though you can expect they will. but that service have problem of advertising as you expect. so indie game blogs become important and also it comes down to indiviuals like us. we should care for developers, they are our firends. I try to buy directly from delevopers, then i try to buy from itch.io, then humble store.. and tip if i can. Steam or other big services have adventage of monopoly; big sales, advertising, etc, but still i dont trust them. I try to do best at my end.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      “that is freedom and that is great” – and that’s the popularity this “great” service deserves to have.

      “we should care for developers, they are our firends” – no, they’re service providers / goods manufacturers (depending how you look on a thing).

      “I try to do best at my end.” – you’re method is hardly the best. Just one of several. It’s actually one of the most risky methods out there, if not the most risky one.

  13. HisDivineOrder says:

    One easy solution is not to let a developer or even a developer run with 50% of the same people as another developer (to prevent name changes of the developer) release another Early Access until they’ve finished the last game and met a certain series of promises made when they initially applied to Early Access. If they didn’t, there should be a damn good reason besides, “Hey, we didn’t have time.”

    I also say this about Kickstarter. Why are developers kickstarting multiple game projects when they haven’t finished their first one yet? It’s irresponsible to let these developers kickstart to begin ANOTHER game when they haven’t delivered on the last one. (Obsidian, I’m lookin’ at you.)

  14. waltC says:

    Just laying in some binding conditions would help. For instance:

    1) After “Greenlight” status, etc., your game must show solid progress *for six months* (a year would be better) before you can begin charging money for the pre-released versions of your game. During the initial period your game will be available to all who wish to play it, gratis (ie, charging money for pre-alpha software is almost as insane as the people who would pay it, imo.)

    2)Once the first hurdle has been reached you can then lock out the pre-alpha versions which had been distributed earlier and begin charging for your closer-to-beta-version game; however, you must announce a solid “ship by” date at that time, and you must agree for a full refund to any and all who buy the game if they are not fully satisfied by the state of your game on that pre-announced date. (Ergo, it won’t help developers to experience sudden personal tragedies in their lives that make it impossible for them to finish what they started. They will have to endure their tragedies with their own money, etc.)

    3)The company hosting the “Greenlight” games must establish a monetary bond, or agree to be liable for, all money taken in prior to the game’s pre-announced shipping date.

    4) Alternatively, the developer can go Kickstarter or can simply apply for purchase by an established publisher, pay for the game’s development from his own pocket, etc.

    I think the problem with the current Greenlight idea is that it encourages people with no experience and/or direct knowledge of game creation & programming to foist an idea first, and start making money on the idea, before they discover whether they can actually translate their ideas into shipping software.

    • tormos says:

      actually though why do you hate developers this much

    • stan423321 says:

      With all due respect, this model is horrible. While managing the “semi-functional sandbox prototype” projects pretty well, it drives out the projects that Steam Early Access was seemingly designed for in the beginning and which really need a help of sort, that is indie betas that can’t be tested because indies don’t have Q&A departments.

      Let’s imagine a Developer making The Game. The Game has no multi-player or randomized elements. Developer pretty much finishes the game, but only owns three PCs, all with various Radeons and Windows 7 Hungarian Home Premium. Now you may say that this is not what happens currently on E.A.. You’re right, current system has problems which lead to it being used… differently in some cases. But this one is even worse.

      Under current Steam Early Access model, Developer can release The Game with 30% discount, stating the current status of the game pretty well, and receiving information about, say, performance problems on a specific uncovered config (which may be as different as having Russian Windows instead of Hungarian. Yes, this can sometimes cause problems). Under proposed system however, Developer that doesn’t hide The Game is not ready for release is unable to grab a cent for it (even if testing period goes beyond six months, there is no “visible progress”), and many users just find it working, finish it while it’s free… and they decide they’re done with it (and they don’t buy it later). Now some readers are probably gonna say that it was a bad game then and I’m going to ignore this, as many games are not meant to be replayed over and over, it’s as simple as that. But wait, the problem is bigger! People that downloaded the game for free and don”t have a working config? They are most probably not gonna care that much if the game doesn’t run. Since, you know, they didn’t pay for it…

      Now some of you will say that this is not the type of prototype that appears on Early Access. Well, maybe. I’ve counted two on the Steam E.A. front page right now that fit the definition. Anyway, these are arguably most “valuable” from regular consumer viewpoint, and causing problems to them is what stores should avoid.

      Besides: let’s face it, the whole “I’m not finished” thing is the sign of good will on the side of developer, sad as it may be. See: Dark Matter.

      The system that possibly could work would be non-problematic partial refunding, but I’m not gonna say I thought this through.

  15. elanaiba says:

    Or you can just not buy Early Access games if you think they’re risky business.

    And let people that want to take the risk do it, otherwise said game might not be done.

  16. brettski says:

    I think the elephant in the room on early access never gets mentioned. Remember when studios paid alpha testers to make sure their game was ready for market? Remember when free demos were how you got your gaming meathooks into new customers? Now, they’re asking us to be paying alpha testers. They win on payroll, and they win on the creation of a whole new income stream for an incomplete product. kickstarter is a new way to try and fund a project, and buyer beware should be a logical conclusion to investing in anything. Early access, however, just feels like a dirty cash grab.

    • johnnyr says:

      At the beginning, Early Access was ok. Now it’s just getting ridiculous. Devs are getting the majority of thier money up front, so there is little incentive to actually finish the game properly (or in some cases, at all). In the cases that the dev does continue to work on the game, progress seems to be significantly slower, since they don’t need to finish the game to see some money – they already have it rolling in.

      I’ve stopped supporting Early Access. If devs want my money, then finish your damn game.

      I sound like an old man but I liked it back when games were developed and finished before they got actually released and were asking money for them.

      • Baines says:

        Worse, developers can have less incentive to finish the game. A successful Early Access campaign can have them seeing diminishing sales to go along with months or years of additional work. That can kill a developer’s drive.

        There is also increased risk of money mismanagement. How many games end up in steep Steam sales or bundles while they are still in Early Access? The developers are burning through their potential future profits in order to lure in reluctant buyers now. A game that is around two years from release really shouldn’t be repeatedly selling for 75% off.

    • jjujubird says:

      Great point. It is indeed pretty gross how we’ve been gradually indoctrinated into thinking that playing broken alpha and pre-alpha games is a privilege that’s worth paying a healthy sum for and not the other way around.

      I partially blame MMOs (and the advent of online gaming in general). Used to be, people more than anything wanted a great, polished game experience. These days people still want that, but there’s also this idea of “I have to stay ahead of the masses” – people are fiercely competitive and want that early knowledge or extra loot or what have you to be better at the game than everyone else.

      Also, most online games turn into ghost towns shortly after the initial release hype, so people don’t want to “miss the boat”, or at least, they want their fun with that game to last longer than if they waited all the way until release to start playing (which is pretty understandable).

  17. alms says:

    Putting it bluntly there. The only way this could work is if GOG had a way to get a refund from the developer – which obviously won’t happen.

    If anything this will be like their 30-day money back guarantee: sounds great on paper, but the restrictions pretty much make it useless.

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      Yeah. There’s no way they can tell which developers will pull off Early Access without flunking it either. Game dev has so many different ways that it can fall apart and most of them aren’t really predictable in any way – so all you’re left with is either a smaller selection of games that still may or may not reach any satisfactory form of completion (if there even is such a thing) or a “or your money back” guarantee. Which GOG would have to foot the bill for because the biggest reason to go for Early Access is to get money to spend on making your videogame so the chances are, it’ll have been spent by then anyway so good luck getting that back.

      But the whole framing here is terrible anyway. There aren’t really a bunch of unscrupulous devs ready to take your money and run, that’s a really weird us vs them political point thing. I mean, there’s probably one or two out there who think they can get away with it but most devs are just really well meaning and well, game development happens. So it’s a really awful way to frame the discussion in the first place, let alone set yourself up as someone who’s going to save people from this if and when you approach early access. If a dev is going to do that, why bother going into Early Access and try and make a videogame? There’s far quicker, easier and less publicly accountable ways to do that on mobile or elsewhere. It’s just… it’s just really bad as a starting point. There, that’s polite.

      And there’s no way they’ll be able to successfully predict what games will make it, what games will be good. There’s just way, way, way too many things that can go wrong. Y’know, like would they let Molyneux onto their service? Obviously, I don’t know but can you really see them saying “you know what, you’re not good enough for us, come back later” because you know what’ll happen with that? No-one will. I realise people like GOG but there’s no prestige to being on their service, not like that anyway. But Godus is mainly shite, right? And it’s by a dev with a history of shipped products. And in the other corner, from early beginnings there was a good chance that Elite would be shit and that’s gone the opposite way. Dev is funky like that.

      Forget about that for a mo and think of all the other things that can go wrong. Yeah, there’s boredom, there’s stuff like with Towns where (one of) the developer(s) is convinced that the product is fine and complete and there’s a 100$ difference of opinion between them and the player base. That can happen. But so can other things too, *much* more likely things. The game might well all come together in the early stages and be fine but as things ramp up, scale up, maybe the work is too much. Maybe someone’s wife or kid or mum or dad or dog gets ill and they have to up sticks and go and sort out life for a while. Maybe the game seems fine at first but turns out that it’s just not fun later on when all the features are in so it’s either roll back a long way, back to the drawing board or ditch and move on. Or maybe the money just runs dry as a game strolls further down the line and the lights can’t be kept on.

      It’s a fundamental problem with early financing in a creative work. Sure, maybe the answer here is “well, get rid of early access” but that seems a bit baby with the bathwater and all that. In the meantime, whatever, GOG can’t make a safe bet on Early Access because they can’t control any of these variables. They can’t keep developers working on a project and if they try, people won’t touch them with someone else’s – why would they? Might as well go to a publisher if we’re going down that particular road, at least there’s a chance the publisher won’t try and set up a weirdo “some devs are out to rip you off” strawman or something.

      It’s not ever going to be collecting only the good stuff, it’s just going to be “a smaller selection of games” and everything that can go wrong with Early Access on Steam will still be there with GoG because when even AAA studios have a litany of failed and fallen projects behind them at various stages of completion because *that’s videogames*, the idea that GOG will somehow be able to control it further down the ladder is hilariously laughable indeed.

      But all that said, a bit more consumer protection *never* goes amiss, y’know?

      • Geebs says:

        The bigger dramas seem to converge on people who seem to be operating under conditions of “diminished responsibility”, like that Marklar guy. It might be a good idea for publishers to have some contact with these people before they make fools of themselves in public.

        (there are truly cynical, churn the same product over and over ripoff merchants, but fortunately they’re all on the App Store)

  18. Geebs says:

    I wonder what acronym they will come up with, seeing as this is really going to fall out of the “old games” mandate?

    Hmm… preorder entertainment, needs investment soon?