Steam Early Access: Games May Never Be Finished

By Nathan Grayson on June 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

Steam Early Access has been a contentious subject over the past many months for a number of reasons, but it really boils down to an unsurprising truth: the games aren’t finished. How should those games be treated? Should they be reviewed? Should they get prominent store placement? How much should they cost? And most of all, what happens if they never cross the finish line? What if they get caught up in the grinding gears of game development’s ashen hell forever? Can anything be done? For now, Valve seems to be erring on the side of “knowledge is power.”

Valve’s now added a rather simple (but very important) disclaimer to Steam Early Access’ FAQ:

“Its 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. 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.”

It’s a pretty key distinction, and I’m glad Valve is putting it out there. I mean, it’d be much better if companies who weren’t sure they could deliver their full vision weren’t on Steam in the first place, but this is an imperfect world and game development is an inexact science. Most developers start out with the best of intentions, but the unexpected happens early and often.

Honestly, I’d like to see this disclaimer even more prominently featured – or at least individually linked in each game’s explanation of what early access constitutes. Otherwise, only a small subset of users will ever find it.

Have you had any bad experiences with Early Access? Do you think it should be more prominently explained/disclaimer-ed?

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162 Comments »

  1. Optimaximal says:

    It’s total rubbish. Valve are essentially doing the ‘typical’ business thing of throwing some choice words in a FAQ/EULA that nobody will ever read, but will be frequently called upon whenever they’re hauled across the coals for greenlighting/Early Access’ing games that are totally and utterly broken (with no planned fix once the money has been spent).

    Because of this token paragraph, they’ve got a get out clause that prevents them having to issue refunds, like they did with that Earth:whatever game, perpetuating the problem of Steam continuing to be a free-for-all open to abuse.

    Jim Sterling summarised it the best…

    If Valve put half as much effort into having storefront standards as it does info freeing itself of responsibility, Steam would be a utopia.

    • AngoraFish says:

      “Early Access” is an abomination.

      It’s simply an excuse to monetise unfinished projects on vague promises of future greatness; projects that in most cases are already struggling financially with the devs effectively betting the house on a big early access payoff to stave off having to find a new job. Unfortunately, it’s a payoff that in many cases will fail to eventuate, not least because of the increasingly crowded market on Steam and the weak buzz inevitably surrounding an unfinished title.

      In the long run it can’t be great for developers either, as by the time a decent game is actually ready for “release” a bunch of the core market have already come, got bored and moved on; while poor to middling early access (pre)reviews have been piling up for a while and the hype-train has long ago left the station, never to return.

      It’s too easy to blame the consumer, but as good western consumerists we are conditioned to crave instant gratification, and the instant gratification crowd is almost certainly the bulk of the early access market. The fiction that early access somehow caters to a small, committed group of enthusiast bug-testers is a convenient rationalisation that’s ultimately far disconnected from reality, as a quick scan of any unmoderated early access forum will amply demonstrate.

      • Rizlar says:

        It’s true that for some games it can make a lot of sense though. Like Minecraft, which seemed to start the whole trend, or Kerbal Space Program. They seem like really exciting, worthwhile games that benefit from ongoing development and people get huge amounts of enjoyment from them as they are.

        So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.

        But this bit is just bollocks. If the majority of early access games are to be judged by their current state, there is no way they are worth the full-game full-prices that are asked for. In this sense I agree with the two posts above. I can only hope it is a trend that will die out a bit after a couple of years and people (gamers, devs) realise that not every game is suited to Kerbal Space Program style development.

        • MkMax says:

          but games like Minecraft, Terraria, Don’t starve, Prison architect, etc are very different from most of the Early access games, they started polished, the game worked and as far as the initial pitch of the gameplay is involved they were feature complete they included everything, after that you had a constant stream of free updates that expand functionality in some cases the updates were promised from the start, in others not so much, at any point the devs could have said “that is it, we are moving on” without problem

          i dont even consider them early access, more like a “constant feature update” model

          • Rizlar says:

            Yep.

          • jrodman says:

            I’m not sure i fully agree with the claim that all of those games felt complete. However if you have a game that feels complete and that you also plan to keep iterating on, you can call it “released” but say “there will be ongoing development”.

          • jezcentral says:

            You think Prison Architect felt complete? Playable, yes, but complete?

          • qrter says:

            Part of Don’t Starve’s process was that there were a couple of pretty big overhauls of gameplay systems during its development – you can’t really do that to a game you call ‘finished’, you need a moniker like Early Access to denote that there will be ongoing development.

          • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

            Minecraft started polished? As far as I remember it started as a block placing java app with gigantic bugs up the wazoo.

      • DanMan says:

        On the other hand it’s a Kickstarter which includes a demo.

        I think early access games should not be featured on the store’s front page until they’re not early access anymore. Other than that, I think Steam is doing enough to tell you what they are (the blue box on each game’s store page).

        Maybe they should think about more business models, like a pay-what-you-want upfront, and when the game is finished, and you want to keep playing, you pay an additional amount to keep it.

        • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

          It’s nothing like Kickstarter. With KS you pitch your product with a budget, a funding goal. If not enough people like your pitch nothing is lost for the potential backers. And if enough people pledge, you have enough money for a successful project (in theory). With this early access flood of non-sense projects it sometimes seems more like devs grabbing whatever they can to postpone having to finish a game that is already in a very lackluster state. Paradoxically, EA funds postponing instead of finishing the game…

          • ramirezfm says:

            You make it sound like one is 100% safe with KS as funding the game means the game will be completed and exactly like you want it to be which is bollocks. Funded KS projects go down in flames or end up as broken and/or boring mess. Hello Larry remake.

            The truth is you are paying for a dream, usually someone else’s dream. Game development is not as simple as ‘hey, we got the monies, we’re safe’. Budgets grow. Deadlines slip. Sh*t happens. Right now you are paying for the demo, for the barebone experience, for the framework on which the rest of the game will be built. But you are not paying for the complete product as the complete product might or might not happen!

          • jezcentral says:

            Early Access is more like Indiegogo than Kickstarter.

      • ironman Tetsuo says:

        I’m a big supporter of Early Access and have so far only made good investments so I whole heartedly disagree with the process being an abomination but I do believe Early Access should definitely be kept off the front page of Steam.

        This is definitely where most fingers are probably burnt, it’s easy to impulse buy when you see a title in the popular section and the screenshots/trailer looks cool I can see it being too easy for customers to get the wrong idea and not realise exactly what they’re buying into.

        Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program, Xenonaughts, Project Zomboid, Sir you are being hunted, Prison Architect and DayZ to name a few have all given me hours and hours of enjoyment during their development and I have no regrets buying in early and being allowed to watch a great project evolve over time.

        Research! Research! Research! and you won’t go wrong

        • Nenjin says:

          Yeah, I have no problems with EA other than the fact Valve has plastered them all over the store front page. They should be on their own product group page, like Greenlight, so people deliberately have to go looking for EA games to get them. That would better underscore how they’re separate category, than a disclaimer few will read and even fewer will respect the intent of.

          • qrter says:

            But doesn’t that negate one of the basic ideas of Early Access? Most of these games are made by small development teams (or even just one person), who use Early Access to create an early flow of income and thereby funding. Hiding their games away severely hobbles that aspect.

    • kalleguld says:

      I can’t recognize the “hide in the eula”-pattern. There’s a big, brightly colored box of text prominently displayed on the main game page, above the buy-button. And frankly I think that putting much more text in the box would result in fewer people reading it, and more people just scrolling past it.

      Early Access Game
      Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.
      Note: This Early Access game may or may not change significantly over the course of development. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you may want to wait until the game progresses further in development. Learn more
      WHAT THE DEVELOPERS HAVE TO SAY:
      Why Early Access?
      “We want to get feedback from our players to help make The Counting Kingdom the most fun math game on the market.”
      How long will this game be in Early Access?

      • Wisq says:

        I do think they could change “If you are not excited to play this game in its current state” to “If you are not willing to spend this price for the game in its current state” and save a lot of grumbling if a game dies. Assuming people ever read the text before they buy, that is.

    • SomeDuder says:

      I’m still of the opinion that it’s your own dumb choice – if you do not want to play a game that’s not feature-complete or even working, then simply don’t buy a game that’s got EARLY ACCESS!!1 plastered all over its Store page.

      I’ve got plenty of complaints about the way that Valve is heading with Steam (Applications that aren’t games, touch-based games (iOS/Android gunk), interface, etc), but the ones that involve your own inability to read and make a choice isn’t one I can blame GabeN for.

      • Geebs says:

        The Caveat Emptor argument kind of falls down when developers can get away with being actively misleading in their descriptions though. Plus, I agree with the OP that this statement is mostly just Valve trying to wash their hands of any legal backlash in as disingenuous a way as possible.

        • ramirezfm says:

          In current times of Let’s Plays, reviews, previews, game sites, blogs and videos you seldom can honestly blame the evil developers for false advertising. If you throw your monies around like crazy and can’t spend 15 minutes researching the game then hey. There is no cure for stupidity.

          • Geebs says:

            No offence, but I find “there’s no cure for stupidity” to be an irritatingly stupid argument. There is a cure for stupidity – engineering around the problem so that stupid (or young, or old, or tired, or distracted) people can’t hurt themselves.

            Which is not the same thing as putting out a vaguely worded statement to cover your own arse and then keep selling broken stuff that might one day be fixed when your customer is already sick of it.

          • jezcentral says:

            Valve did not just put out a vaguely worded statement to cover their arse. There are videos, screenshots, EA warnings, reviews, tags right on the page. They can’t be doing much more without tapping you on the shoulder and saying “Are you sure you want to buy the game?”

            Devs lying in their games descriptions will get you a refund. WarZ did that, and got taken off.

            The dev of Air Control didn’t, and so he is still there. (Not that he is Early Access, because he isn’t).

          • Geebs says:

            And yet, Early Access is a euphemism meant to imply that the consumer is getting some special service, not something incomplete and broken, and “excited to play the game as is” is a cleverly nasty piece of language which gets them off the hook while sounding like the nice guys.

            The language is important, and it’s still more of a sales pitch than a warning. It’s legalese disguised as conversational speech, which should always raise an eyebrow.

            (People who don’t have English as a first language might well not get the full nuance)

          • Shadow says:

            Whatever the wording of “Early Access” might sneakily imply, Steam offers plenty of warnings, and people have plenty of tools to make informed decisions within a very reasonable timeframe, either within the site (forums, user reviews) and outside (videos, let’s plays, external reviews, word of mouth). People who need further help, I’m sorry to say, are beyond help.

            I know that sounds rude, and I agree with the fact engineering should minimize misunderstandings. But that’s the thing: there’s plenty of engineering done already.

          • Geebs says:

            Regardless of their rhetoric, Steam isn’t a “lightly curated market of ideas” or “community of people who are excited about new games”, or whatever. Steam is a shop. They make money out of selling you goods. Their reputation is based on a) Valve’s reputation for quality and b) the fact that for the majority of the time they have been operating, they have sold only highly polished games from major publishers which, regardless of whether they were good games or good value for money, were completed projects with a fair degree of QA.

            This is all licensing blather which is aimed to distract you from the fact that they have a responsibility not to sell you broken crap. Caveat emptor is not a maxim for determining whether somebody is a fool, it is a reminder that a merchant knows more about what they are selling than the buyer. Given some of the crap now on Steam, it seems that Valve have absolved themselves of even testing what they sell.

          • Baines says:

            jezcentral, the Air Control dev did lie. The store description is deceptive at best. The dev has blatantly lied on the Steam forums.

            Valve simply doesn’t care. Valve tries to dodge any and all responsibility, while enabling and abetting the worst practices of publishers and developers.

            The War Z was temporarily removed from sale most likely because the publisher was caught *twice* with provable lies in its store description. It took a media firestorm for Valve to ever so slowly step in the first time, requiring the publisher to change the store description. Only the publisher’s altered store description was *still* fraudulent, a detail Valve never bothered to check themselves, leading to a second swell in the firestorm and the temporary removal from the store front. Valve buried the abuses by the publisher’s appointed mods on the Steam forums, and seemed quite willing to let the game be moved to a new name for its eventual return to the store front.

          • P.Funk says:

            The modern consumer is a fucking idiot. End of story. I’m not going to wring my hands because people get mislead by pretty pathetic advertizing and misleading text.

            Lets play, video reviews, your own gut instinct, all superior to what your brain does when shiny flashy adverts come into your field of view.

            I honestly have no sympathy for people who get burned by games which are obviously what they are. There are exceptions but by and large saying its Valve’s job to ensure dumb consumers don’t end up being burned by their own impulsive spending is silly.

            Too little emphasis is placed on the responsibility of a consumer to make smart decisions. There’s more information out there than ever before.

          • Geebs says:

            Nonsense.

            a) you made up some hypothetical mouth breather to get angry at and then seemed to go off on some weird tangent of how great it was when stupid people knew their place. I’ll put that down to immaturity.

            b) consumers have rights. Companies love to pretend that rights don’t exist, so that uninformed people don’t recognise when they have a valid complaint and won’t exercise them; often through bogus unenforceable EULA overreach, like they have here.If even EA is doing better than Valve’s no-take-backsies policy, Valve are either doing it wrong, or they have become too big to behave.

          • RobF says:

            “…they have sold only highly polished games from major publishers which, regardless of whether they were good games or good value for money, were completed projects with a fair degree of QA.”

            God, I feel like I’m niggling when I’m right there with you on the shop/consumer stuff but there’s been a whole load of broken stuff on Steam for a long time. Sometimes it’s disappeared, sometimes it just drifts off the store and no-one notices and sometimes it’s Aliens:Colonial Marines.

            The amount of shart is just sort of relative. That’s sort of OK, I think.

            “This is all licensing blather which is aimed to distract you from the fact that they have a responsibility not to sell you broken crap.”

            This is genuinely not how Valve see it. Valve see early access as the right way for games to be developed. I sort of don’t really agree that it’s a good fit across the board and I think there’s a lot of devs who shouldn’t be allowed near it without people attaching mousetraps to their fingers first and stuff but it’s genuinely not trying to be a get out clause. It is, and you might find this better or much much worse, how Valve want developers to approach Steam in the future. How they want developers to develop in the future.

            “Caveat emptor is not a maxim for determining whether somebody is a fool, it is a reminder that a merchant knows more about what they are selling than the buyer.”

            God yeah, the amount of callous “you gets what you deserve” stuff in this thread is terrifying. Just assume it’s the buyer who’s dumb first and pour scorn on them? Like you say, we’ve got consumer rights for a reason and that reason is that corporations will take everything, will pull every trick in the book to squeeze money out of people and people aren’t dumb for falling for this, it’s stuff that needs to be discouraged.

            I don’t think that counts for Early Access as a whole but it should be in mind as much as it would be for “normal” games. Returns within a reasonable timeframe, cashback etc… damn right. Sadly, that’s something Valve are really shit at and people should demand better of them for it because it’s all fun and judgemental faces until you’re the one who needs to raise a ticket for something.

          • P.Funk says:

            Its simple in my mind. Early Access is what it is. People get cranky because its not what they wish it was. Yes consumers have rights but they also have brains, or ought to. Consumers should not substitute acknowledging their own poor decisions in favour of blaming someone else for misleading them.

            What is misleading? The War Z. Thats a case where consumer rights is a proper topic for discussion. Every game however these days is doing early access. Some provide better value in that than others. Some games will pan out better than others. Whats a consumer to do? Be smart because right now the gaming market is full of much more fluid stuff than before. Its not the buy the game on release day world anymore.

            Consumer rights matter but as it stands consumers do a pretty shitty job of representing their own interests even when no rights have been infringed on. I love to talk trash about console gamers and their inability to grasp how bad the value is on paying 50-60 bucks per title but I don’t think PC gamers are that much better, they just have a market place that is more competitive and so provides better value. Mostly they make pretty poor choices a lot of the time. How many people say “I buy games I never play on those damned steam sales”?

            I think from what I’ve seen that most people’s complaints about early access are unjustified. When I see them its usually the result of unrealistic expectations. Just looking at the Star Citizen Dogfight page on RPS says it all. If gamers bought games with as much care as a middle class family bought a car this wouldn’t be such a problem. What will the market bear? A lot of dumb gamers that’s what it’ll bear.

        • Shuck says:

          What Early Access games need are clearly separated lists of “current features” and “planned features,” because right now they can sell some game that they’d like to make, but may never get around to doing. If they were misleading, player reviews would call them on it, if nothing else.
          As it is, I see this new Steam caveat as Valve pointing out the obvious for the clueless (and potentially hurting their Early Access sales, as it should), rather than covering their own asses. The practical reality is that they can’t offer a paid early access system and allow refunds a year or more afterwards if the game doesn’t turn out the way a player thinks it should have. When you buy a game, you pay for a game as it is, not for a hypothetical future game. Early Access is problematic for Valve, for developers and for players in a lot of ways, but that part, at least, is pretty straightforward.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      There are many problems associated with early access, one of which is some developers treating it like Kickstarter, selling the concept of a game with the protection from criticism afforded by the early access label. There’s an understanding that a Kickstarter donator is investing in something, with no guarantee of a return. But Steam is a store. We’re not investors there, we’re customers, customers being charged for an unfinished product.

      This isn’t the first time I’ve loudly exclaimed ‘is this even legal?’ at the Steam store.

      • Ravenholme says:

        Better go attack Pre-ordering then. Because Early Access is simply Pre-ordering a title but with the ability to see (or hear from others) what the current state of the project is. And there is precedent for pre-ordering titles and them not coming out (DNF might spring to mind, but it EVENTUALLY got released, nearly a decade late)

        • Drake Sigar says:

          I recall many years ago preordering a title that never came out and I got refunded by stores who still respected the little things like consumer rights.

          • Martel says:

            And what happened when the game you preordered was a buggy piece of crap? Like say, X:Rebirth? There will always be bad games, games released in an unfinished state, and people looking to scam the system.

            On the positive side….Kerbal!

          • RobF says:

            My dear darling wife took Driv3r back and when asked why she was returning it after only a few hours responded “because it’s shit”. That’s the thing with bricks and mortar and where the internet hasn’t really caught up yet, if something isn’t fit for purpose you can return it and get a refund. Technically, you should still be able to do it on the internet but y’know, companies.

          • jezcentral says:

            EA, ironically, will let you do that.

            That’s Electronic arts, not Early Access.

      • ironman Tetsuo says:

        But when it’s stated plain as day “this game is not finished” how can you justify complaining about it’s unfinished state?

        • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

          If something is plain as day unfinished and broken, and probably a bit shit on the whole, then maybe not sell it, let alone go and advertise it?

          • P.Funk says:

            They’ve been selling and advertizing shit thats broken and not even worth the price of the packaging since the beginning of time. There was no magical nostalgia driven time when this wasn’t true. People need to sack up and be accountable for their own spending.

    • Wisq says:

      Jim’s statement, while fun and pithy, is unfortunately rather hyperbolic. An acceptable level of “storefront standards” (much less enough to create a “utopia”) would take a large curation team and a lot of paid hours. Throwing a couple of sentences into a FAQ takes a few people and a few minutes or hours at most (depending on the review process).

      One could argue that by occasionally taking down (and even refunding) the worst offenders, they already are putting more effort (and more of their own money) into storefront standards than into freeing themselves of responsibility. It’s just nowhere near enough.

      • MkMax says:

        tax early access revenue to fund the curating team ? its not that hard, thats how the government funds inspections

      • HothMonster says:

        Not to mention when Steam curates their store people complain that the entry barriers are too hard.” Steam should be open and free why are you keeping indies away from customers?”, and all that jazz. Then when Steam opens the floodgates it all, “How can they let all this rubbish on the store, they should be liable for my un-researched impulse buy!” Can’t please everyone.

    • DuncUK says:

      I really think that early access games should be prevented from ever appearing in the “featured items” section of the front page. It just seems wrong to me to be promoting half finished, buggy alpha games alongside complete (hopefully finished) ones. Perhaps a separate “featured early access” banner could exist below the main one. I’m pretty much staying away from Early Access games from now on and it’s frustrating to have to constantly navigate around them.

      • P.Funk says:

        They promote what people buy. People will buy any old shit so they sell it. You can’t blame them for plugging what will sell. When games are on the list because of greenlight as well what then? Who’s to blame?

        Really, we get mad at vendors for advertizing what people will buy?

        “I can’t make sensible decisions when they put it on the front page!!@!@!@!!!! Please bury it so I won’t have an irrational reaction to it having the appearance of being popular!@!@!@!@!”

        Pfft.

    • trjp says:

      Jim Sterling can be an asshole at the best of times but what he said was

      “I don’t like this thing – if the thing that it’s in were a pristine but impossible jewel, it would be OK tho”

      which is about is insightful as a tea-leaf reading.

      He’s one of those people who think the solution to everything is ‘curation’ – something which is impossible, doesn’t work – possibly doesn’t even EXIST – but which gamers have an irrational desire for.

      Like – in his case – a sense of not being a massive nerd.

      • Sian says:

        Please explain to me how curation is impossible, doesn’t work and/or doesn’t exist.

        • Nenjin says:

          What, you think Valve just has wheel barrows of money to throw around curating their own product?

          Oh. Wait.

        • trjp says:

          When people say ‘curation’ – what they mean is ‘keeping things out that I don’t like’. It’s a subjective thing and thus it’s impossible to achieve in the way people are thinking of it.

          You have people who don’t want “mobile games” or “tower defence games” or “Flash games” or “F2P games” because they have a personal dislike of them (and a narrow view of the world – let’s be honest)

          People believe Steam used to be curated – but it just had a shitty submission system which few people got through – it had Bad Rats before Greenlight existed tho, there was no curation then and there will be none in future.

          Also – expecting a store (which is designed to sell things) to offer ‘curation’ (which is designed to not sell things) is particularly bizarre.

          When people walk into a supermarket, do they complain that it contains lots of things they don’t need? Our local supermarket is regularly out of things I need like milk but always has children’s clothes available, I find that bizarre but I’ve yet to complain about it.

        • P.Funk says:

          Curation could easily mean no Goat Simulator on Steam. But its fun! But the game is shit… oh but… its a joke! but some people don’t think its funny… oh but… but… BUT!!

          Curation means by definition an arbitrary quality control. It becomes then something else for Valve to be yelled at for and all it serves is to make people feel better about the shit they regret buying.

    • RationalLogic says:

      I don’t think Jim Sterling understands the point of a user-curated marketplace. Then again, I don’t think Jim Sterling understands anything about the gaming industry at all, other than how to fish for clicks, and being an apologist for Sony.

      Early Access allows for the funding of games that would have otherwise not exist in a world of “AAA” zombie shooters. Like with Kickstarter, the only “problem” is that some people are too stupid to understand that there is a major difference between a pre-order (which Early Access and Kickstarter are not), and an investment that may or may not pan out.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I don’t think he has to understand a user curated marketplace because no such thing exists currently. Greenlight isn’t a form of curation, even ignoring BS like saying “anyone who votes yes gets a free copy” it’s not an informed vote. You’re being asked “would you buy this” which means you’re effectively rating the game’s marketing material. You cannot judge the game before playing it but most Greenlight games don’t have a playable version available (especially one you can play before you buy it which the question would require).

        A proper curator would get access to the version that’s supposed to go on sale and can test it properly for faults. The only real way to do user curation that I could imagine would be a secondary store front that’s unfiltered and people who play games that are on there get asked to rate their experience, only the games that get positive ratings by the people playing it would be promoted to the primary store front. That sounds really messy.

        • P.Funk says:

          The user curated marketplace exists in your own mind after you watch a few youtube videos.

          Even if the games are shit there are mountains of people who would happily buy a shit game so that thousands would watch them tell them how shit it is.

      • Sian says:

        Mr Sterling’s criticism of Steam’s lack of curation doesn’t stop at Early Access, though. Steam is being flooded with poorly made games, both new and old (and some where someone entered the wrong release date), that bypass Greenlight. Those games are sold as finished products. Those are the games that need curation the most.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Valve should not be responsible for screening games available on Steam.

      Respectfully, prior to digital distribution we had several companies effectively screening the contents of the entire gaming industry. They spent so much and bought up so many developers that they effectively dictated what genres of games we could play and how many of each were available at any one time.

      We call them Publishers, and they almost killed the medium. again.

      Do not get me wrong: I know many early access games will never see completion. So i do not buy them. As a responsible, informed consumer, i do not in fact purchase early access games at all any longer. Nor do I support kickstarters any longer. Once burned, one bad apple and all that stuff.

      On the other hand i can see how Early Access is bad for us all as PC gamers. First it offers up the impression that ours is the “platform for games that never get finished.” Turning people off to our platform is bad. Second, it takes money from consumers that could have supported hard working devs like Supergiant and others who while they still make Indie titles, actually bother to finish them before trying to monetize the product,. Taking money from consumers that could have supported finished products and using it to support devs who will never finish a product is also bad for all of us as it harms the real, trustworthy devs. This is of course assuming the money spent on Early access titles would ever have gone to an extant, finished product, which is obviously not universally true of course (see the piracy kills sales argument).

      All of which is to say:I support ending Early Access. I see it as abusive of gamers conditioned to want instant gratification, as others have said. And anything engineered specifically to take advantage of social conditioning in vulnerable people i tend to see as despicable. I also think it damages our chosen platform by association.

      But i do not advocate some sort of subjective screening process by Valve to decide what we should have available. When PC gaming declined and consoles took over i left gaming for more than 10 years rather than subject myself to the endless stream of cloned, AAA games. Pardon me if i want to decide for myself what to purchase with the little bit of money our modern society atually decides to let me keep for myself in the first place.

      • P.Funk says:

        There is a very simple truth I live by: people don’t know what they want.

        If you really implemented the core of what most people really wanted when they ran their mouths you’d end up in some dystopic nightmare of a society, worse than what we actually have.

  2. james.hancox says:

    It’s a bit of a tricky one. Valve is trying to turn Steam into a platform, not a store as such. We really need curated stores within Steam itself.

    • Clavus says:

      Exactly. I prefer Valve’s approach of casting a wide net and catching shit with some hidden gems among them, to curating everything and preventing new indies from reaching critical mass.

      Valve is trying to give the community a lot of influence on how Steam chooses its games. This also means the community has to deal with some of the shitty stuff. Do your research and you won’t be that guy that buys the WarZ.

      • jezcentral says:

        I can see others becoming curators. Don’t want to go to vanilla Steam, where you will be overwhelmed? Try the RPS Steam storefront, or PCGamesN, PCGamer, EA, Ubisoft, TotalBiscuit etc etc. They could get a cut of the sales (it could be anything from 0.1% upwards, I have no idea), and they would be the ones who curate their storefronts.

        EDIT: The motivation for the curation being done properly is that your rep would get tarnished if you sold an Air Control, or missed a Kerbal.

        • DanMan says:

          They’re supposedly working on this. If only that already existed, yes.

          • jezcentral says:

            Yeah, I got this impression from Gaben’s comments about separating Steam out from Valve.

            Wow, was this really over a year ago? Time flies!

            http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/01/gabe-newell-on-removing-valve-from-steam/

          • DanMan says:

            The mind boggles. Possibly, the real problem is that they started to open up the floodgates before they had these store fronts in place. Now they’ve only put themselves under pressure as more and more complaints can be heard about the status quo.

          • HadToLogin says:

            They work on that, true. They only have one problem: how to keep all the money for themselves. When they figure that one, welcome Rock Paper Steam Store.

      • KDR_11k says:

        The reason Steam is considered so important by indies is that Steam used to be curated, being on Steam used to mean that you got put into the spotlight and stood out. If it was just a matter of getting sold at all then Desura or XBox Live Indie Games (AKA “crappy minecraft clones and fart jokes turned into games”) would be more popular. But they aren’t because for consumers the risk to get burnt by an unknown game on those services is too great. Even the crappiest games that went onto pre-Greenlight Steam were usually above the standard you’d expect from XBLIG. The dragnet approach would risk turning Steam into just as bad of a place as XBLIG with a resulting crash in consumer confidence.

        • dE says:

          I agree with you. The success of indies on Steam hinged on frontpage exposure and that’s something that happens less and less. It’s probably the very reason indies wanted to be on Steam: To get that frontpage exposure, to get several million people to look at their game. This doesn’t really happen anymore as a result of the wide net approach.
          You got on Steam? Well you and 40 copies of Fishy Fishy Adventure Tank Bob too.
          You set up a Sale? Well you and 300 other games. Many of which constantly on sale.

          Getting on Steam used to mean Frontpage Exposure, setting up a sale meant Frontpage Exposure. This is the power people gave up when they wanted open floodgates. I used to make it a habit to browse the frontpage for new titles and getting to know them. Now? Ain’t nobody got time for that. My wallet thanks me though.

          • jezcentral says:

            I’m not sure Indie devs wanting to be on Steam was just about it being curated. The fact was, back in the day on Steam, there were fewer games being sold, and so your game took up more “digital shelfspace”. Now, there are so many games, yours can get lost. Some kind of quality control would just delay the inevitable, by slowing down the number of new games. Eventually, though, the numbers would climb up, and you would still have this problem of too many games.

            Too many games is completely different to Air Controls getting through.

          • DanMan says:

            You took the words right out of my mouth – how dare you? I hope you had washed your hands before. Ask next time, mkay?

        • RobF says:

          You want to be on Steam because when you sell a videogame people go “why isn’t it on Steam?” and then you have to sit there and go “well, about that then” and they go “I’ll wait until it’s on Steam” and you go “ah”. Then you put your game in a bundle and people buy it on the promise of getting a Steam key in the future if you make it on there and you go “ah”.

          Devs wanted to be on Steam because that’s where the people were. That you got some nice tasty store real estate is lovely and all that but how many massive Steam successes have you heard of that hadn’t been heavily trailed and publicised beforehand or come from console?

  3. RobF says:

    ” I mean, it’d be much better if companies who weren’t sure they could deliver their full vision weren’t on Steam in the first place,”

    Well, that’d be most developers wouldn’t it?

    I’m in favour of this FAQ change anyway. It seems right to me that it’s developers that get held to account not Valve for letting them onto their storefront because there’s no real way of Valve ever knowing what game projects will flunk. And hopefully, it’ll make people take a pause and think whether now is the right time to be throwing money at a videogame because it’s got some exciting pictures/a nice premise/zombies or later when there’s a good chance people will have an idea of whether it shows even the slightest signs of delivering on that.

    EA/Alpha/Beta access should be considered a risk rather than a normal purchase and anything that helps hammer that home is fine by me.

    • JD Ogre says:

      It seems right to me that it’s developers that get held to account not Valve for letting them onto their storefront because there’s no real way of Valve ever knowing what game projects will flunk.

      That’s why they shouldn’t be allowing unfinished games onto the service in the first place.

      • RobF says:

        Well, that’s a genie that isn’t going back in the bottle any time soon. Alpha release is clearly working for a number of games and a lot of people are very happy with what they’ve got. Like with normal releases, there’s every bit a good chance of a game being left unsupported, abandoned with crippling bugs or it just being crap.

        I try not to touch them myself because I’m not really interested in playing unfinished games, it doesn’t have any sort of allure for me. I’m perfectly fine with other people wanting to though, even if I don’t *quite* understand it.

      • Slazer says:

        I think thet games like Divinity or Wasteland are much improved by early access. Divinity just remade the whole magic system for the second time based on user feedback.

        Remember old RPGs like Arcanum and Fallout, in which tradition these games stand. They had bugs all over the place, not because of lazy developers, but because of their enormous scale and tight budgets.

        I am happy to run through Divinity for 5 hours every time they bring a new update, because they are making the game I was missing for the last 13 years.

        If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      This. So much this.

      Well, that’d be most developers wouldn’t it?

      It mystifies me when people just… don’t seem to realise that if videogaming was held to their weirdly arbitrary standards probably 90% of titles in development would disappear.

      I’ve got absolutely no objection to Early Access in principle, though I think that might be because I’m not blindly devoted to the God of Consumer Rights – pretty sure it’s the idea of offering this kind of thing through (gasp!) a storefront of any kind that’s terrifying quite a few. YOU MAY NOT SELL ANYTHING WHICH DOES NOT PERMIT A REFUND THIS IS A CRACK IN THE BEDROCK ON WHICH HUMANITY RESTS. Nonsense, obviously, although I will freely concede Valve should be making this much, much more obvious… it’s just if they did that then sooner or later well-meaning idiots would probably sue them in the EU or something to try and get them to shut down Early Access altogether.

      (I’ve bought two Early Access games, just to clarify. Snow I’m disappointed with given that after nearly six months they still haven’t added any audio at all, last I checked. The Forest is still only a couple of weeks in, so it’s difficult to pass judgement, but it’s certainly got problems. But I have absolutely no problems whatsoever with the idea I cannot have my money back for either – certainly not with Valve, and I’m not that upset with the devs either.)

      • jezcentral says:

        Except underpants. You don’t get a refund of those once they have been opened.

  4. revan says:

    No bad experiences here due to a simple reason: I ignore Early Access games. In fact, I’d really love it if Steam gave us the option to block these games from appearing on the storefront. As it is, when I open Steam, all I see is a deluge of half finished games on offer. That really puts me off from searching out all the finished games I might like to buy. They could just put Early Access products on a separate sub-site. It wouldn’t take much work and their store would be much more inviting.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Must be why they do, in fact, put Early Access games on a subset of the store called “Early Access”.

      And this seems like reasonably ass-covering to me, and I agree with the guy down below who is arguing that consumers are at fault for buying into Early Access without realizing what that means. If this addition to steam’s FAQ regarding them stops people whingeing because they didn’t do the research, I’m all for it.

      I sparingly buy into EA games, and haven’t had very many bad experiences at all. I enjoy most of the games I’ve bought into and am enjoying watching them mature (and enjoying help steer them where the devs are willing to accept feedback)

    • PoulWrist says:

      I agree.

  5. Scurra says:

    Unlike apparently everybody else on the planet, I actually quite like Godus, both in its current, past and potential future incarnations. But boy, oh boy, was it a mistake to put it on Early Access when they didn’t even have anything resembling an actual game – and they still don’t. I understand why they chose to go down that path but they have burned almost all of their bridges by doing so. The result is that even if they end up with something amazing (which is always possible with Molyneux), the bad feelings produced during the last year or so means that very few people are going to be willing to even give it a second glance. Mind you, endless vituperative comment pieces on sites like this don’t much help either, but it was the Early Access decision that will probably come back to bite them the most.

  6. MeestaNob says:

    I think consumers should take more responsibility for their purchases.

    It says earlier access right when you click on it. If it doesn’t work, doesn’t get finished, or just doesn’t pan out the way you wanted it to, it’s your fault for buying it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

    Now, if its officially released, and it says version 1.0 then you are within your rights to get a refund if it doesn’t meet your expectations (within reason, not just wahhh I dont like it!).

    This is why I don’t buy early access games, there’s a million games to play that ARE finished, why risk it.

    • Ravenholme says:

      This. So much.

    • DanMan says:

      Maybe it should be more obvious than “early access” like “unfinished product”, so even if this is your first contact ever with games, you know what you’re in for.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I think they already do:

        “Early Access Game [huge letters]
        Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.
        Note: This Early Access game may or may not change significantly over the course of development. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you may want to wait until the game progresses further in development. Learn more[links to very clear page detailing exactly what early access means]“?

        highlighting it in a really brightly coloured box right near the top of the page

        • DanMan says:

          I know, but you’d be surprised how blind and thick people can be, if they’re confronted with something they’re not familiar with. So having the headline replaced with “Unfinished product” would make a difference, believe it or not.

          In the end, the problem is not with us PC blog commenting gamers. We probably know what we’re getting ourselves into. It’s about more casually interested gamers, for whom Steam is a shop to buy games. Finished games.

    • Lemming says:

      I agree. Personal responsibility should always be paramount.

  7. nasenbluten says:

    I consider early access a terrible idea for mainstream customers, it should be separate from normal releases.

    Free early access would be reasonable, now it is just a preorder with alpha access and no warranties.

    • RobF says:

      “it should be separate from normal releases.”

      It is.

      • nasenbluten says:

        It is not, in the front page right now you can see at least 5 early access games mixed with normal releases.

        Top sellers, Featured PC games, recently updated… everywhere.

        • RobF says:

          They’re not listed in the new releases tab at all (with the exception of an occasional glitch that seems to happen with the show DLC switch but that’s a glitch) and they have their own special section on Steam.

          I dunno, anything beyond that seems a bit like penalizing them just for existing and that’s sort of not helping anyone I don’t think. If they’re selling well then surely they should be in top sellers, if they’re coming soon having them in coming soon seems reasonable and the same for specials. And each one is clearly labelled Early Access in its description so you know to avoid them.

          Obviously this is the sort of thing Valve could fix with a checkbox like they have with DLC but that seems rather counter to their intents towards making developing alongside the community the norm for games which support that sort of development.

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            They’re displayed in the featured items slideshow right at the top of the front store page which is much worse than whether they’re in new releases or not. As bad as it when the new releases means “new to Steam” rather than “new to PC” I forgot there even was a new releases list until that issue arose because it’s not the prominent means of advertising on the storefront.

            Also, I just checked and at least at the moment The Forest is not described as Early Access on the featured items slideshow, it just says “Now Available”; it does say it’s Early Access once you get to the page but it’s definitely not as obvious as it should be.

          • RobF says:

            Why is it much worse? I don’t understand. You click through and there’s a BIG bright blue box with EARLY ACCESS GAME in big letters on it that you can’t really miss.

            I think clearing them out of new releases is smart because that way it gives released games room to breathe until the next-Steam comes along but I don’t think people need to be protected from seeing these things.

            This is one of those things where I’m sorta right behind anyone lobbying for better/more consumer rights on this stuff, entirely disagree with the “it’s your own fault” brigade because everyone knows marketing doesn’t work like that reallly but also sort of pro all these different ways to go and get a game made because there’s games that wouldn’t exist without early access and that’d be grimly depressing to take us back to publishers or no money.

            I genuinely don’t understand what removing them from view is meant to solve. They’re not cigarettes, they won’t kill anyone.

          • Lemming says:

            Philotic is right, hoops should be jumped through on the store to see Early Access titles UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. I’m completely in favour of that.

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            Displaying them in the slideshow at the top of the page is worse than having them in the new releases list because the slideshow is Steam’s way of saying “here are some games worth checking out”. The new releases list has had its own issues recently.

            The key point is that they should be displayed separately and they’re really not, they no longer even say whether they’re Early Access before you get to the page anymore. I’m not against them being discoverable (giving Early Access games their own, clearly distinguishable slideshow would achieve that) but Valve is trying to say they’re the same as released games and not the same at the same time.

  8. Wisq says:

    Before early access on Steam, if there was a game that I really wanted to see in progress right now and support the devs, I would buy it straight from them. I would usually have to download updates manually, which was kind of a pain. And, since I really like having my games managed by Steam, I always lived under the hope that they would get a Steam release and give me a Steam key, although that was never a guarantee.

    Early Access solved all of these. Did my buying patterns change? No. Most of the Early Access games I own are actually still just games I already bought (or pledged to Kickstart) before they ever showed up on Steam. But now I don’t have to wait until that 1.0 release before I can manage them on Steam. Now all my downloads are automatic, and I can see when an update comes in and try it out. My buying habits haven’t changed, but my convenience and enjoyment certainly has.

    Hence why I’m pretty confused about all the people ranting about Early Access, and about Steam putting more effort into washing their hands of it than actually “fixing” it.

    If people aren’t understanding that you’re paying for things now with zero guarantee they’ll ever finish, then sure, make that more apparent. If half-assed Early Access projects are making it onto the front page of Steam, well, so what? Lots of half-assed “complete” games are making it there too. Moderation is currently a major problem with Steam as a whole, not just their Early Access offerings. I’m not convinced that putting Early Access games on their own separate site will do anything useful, since many of the current Early Access titles are already way better than some of the crap Steam has been selling lately, and are only getting better.

    Ultimately, the solution here is education, IMO. Regardless of whether they do it on Steam or elsewhere, customers need to realise that buying something before it’s done is either a donation made to support the project if that’s their intent, or a combination of gambling and instant gratification if it’s not, and is done entirely at their own risk. Adding something to a FAQ is a good first step, but they should probably be making this much more clear on the item pages themselves.

    • Coops07 says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • ironman Tetsuo says:

      totally agree!

    • Geebs says:

      Maybe it would be better if they semi-kickstarted these games – as in, allow people to pre-order alphas, but have a threshold amount for a reasonable budget for continuing to develop the game. Once enough people commit to pre-ordering, the customers get charged and the devs get the money.

    • ramirezfm says:

      Also +1

    • Lemming says:

      I’m the same, but in that case you’re only talking about games that have been Kickstarted as well, and its a Steam key you’re already owed. The biggest risk comes from the titles that just pop up on Early Access FOR SALE.

    • jrodman says:

      None of that is the problem. The problem is how they’re promoted in the steam client in the same exact channel in the same exact way as completed work.

  9. Sir_Pete says:

    It would be also great if the Early access are visible marked as Early Access game everywhere because right now it’s seems you will found this info only if you access store page of particular game.

    Additionally, now when the number of early access game is IMHO big (and getting bigger), there should be own page only with those type of games or filter on main page.
    I’m not really looking forward for upcoming Summer Sales (if there will be any), because my assumption is that 80% of daily/community/flash sales will be early access.

    • AvatarIII says:

      I don’t think we’ll see too much Early Access in sales. a developer would have to be crazy or desperate to be putting an unfinished game on sale. Logically you wouldn’t put things on sale until you have broken even or struggling to get people to buy the game, if you have broken even that means you have no real reason to continue putting effort in, and if you are struggling to make people buy the game, it will probably die.
      An Early Access game on sale is a huge red flag to me.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        I don’t think we’ll see too much Early Access in sales. a developer would have to be crazy or desperate to be putting an unfinished game on sale

        In that case you’d be massively surprised. Prison Architect & Kerbal Space Program go on sale very regularly but they’re bad examples as they’re very likely to be fully finished games. Same goes for Rust & Starbound.
        Of the very few Early Access games I own, the only one I paid for myself was Gnomoria which was on sale when I purchased it (either 66% or 75% so either £2 or less which I can live with).

        Hell the Early Access page in the store even has it’s own “Specials” tab which has 7 titles listed right now.

  10. Runs With Foxes says:

    There are far more interesting games being made now that early access (plus other things like crowdfunding) have allowed small teams to make risky games. If you want things back how they were just a few years ago, you’re nuts. That was a dark time.

  11. Dajmin says:

    The problem is only partly due to the system. It is flawed and Valve should definitely have some say over the level of quality these titles need to meet. That’s not in question.

    I think the far more serious issue is how many of these titles get greenlit in the first place, and how readily gamers hand over their money. Sometimes it’s hard to properly judge if you’re only using screenshots and pre-rendered videos – after all, the AAA developers get away with murder that way as well.

    But there are some where it should be totally obvious there’s either no gameplay or seriously limited scope for a full game (at this point, anything with “Simulator” in the name). So why is it people still insist on saying “yes” or – worse – actually paying for them? That’s not the fault of Valve, that’s purely down to people being idiots.

    • Wisq says:

      I do think that Greenlight should involve a playable demo. For complete games hoping to make it onto regular Steam, a typical time- or content-limited demo. For games hoping to make it onto Early Access, a complete copy of everything produced to date. (There’s minimal risk in the latter, since they’ll presumably be expanding it and making it worth the money once they get signed up.) And one could also make the case for limiting votes to (or giving higher value to votes from) people who have downloaded and played the demo, with the demo delivered and tracked via the Steam system itself.

      I thought I remembered that the original goal of Greenlight was to take games that had been completed independent of Steam and bring them into the Steam store. But the current system amounts to nothing more than Kickstarter without the pledging system — and it’s a lot easier to click “yes, this should be on Steam” than it is to commit money to it.

      Basically: Titles with nothing to show for themselves and hoping to get the budget to make something should be on Kickstarter, and Steam Greenlight should be reserved for titles with real working copies to judge them by (IMO).

  12. DThor says:

    I see it neither as some sort of hand washing “don’t blame us!” tactic nor as the answer to anything, really, since who RTFM? The sort of people that spray paint hate graffiti all over those shiny forum walls won’t care, they lose interest after the first sentence (which you can note from their studious interpretations of responses to their posts), I just see it as a friendly reminder to noobs just what early access means. Really, you’re always a bit invested in any game from any company which might screw you over, big or small. There’s a general sense of trust that needs to build. Like those chaps at Amplitude doing the endless strategy series, after playing Endless Space and seeing the way they behaved after release, I didn’t hesitate when early access for Endless Legend opened up. Decent people writing great games. I rarely early access, though. My only real anger bubbles up when someone wants you to pay *more* than the release price for the privilege of doing alpha testing for them. I don’t mind full price, but a premium?

  13. Tom Walker says:

    Hmm, I learned my lesson here with Dejobaan’s [blahblah]Ugly Baby. I think I stumped up the cash for it in 2011 and it still doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

    Apparently they’re still working on it, though. Maybe in 2028 it will turn out I got an amazing deal on the best rhythm game since jumping up and down in time to the music.

    • OneManAndHisDroid says:

      I bought that too! It started really promisingly – then they made more and more tweaks that made it less about how the game responded to the music (defeating the object) – to complete silence now… again – no amount of research protects you from that… :/

    • wu wei says:

      Ironically, Ugly Baby predates Early Access by quite some time, was accepted because Dejobaan had previous titles published on Steam, and is not eligible for a refund despite this being the second or third time they’ve thrown out what they’ve had in order to start over.

      For all of the cries about the “good old days” of Valve curation, this is one that came in under their watch.

  14. OneManAndHisDroid says:

    Firstly, I want to say I like the idea of early access games, I have several myself, ranging from Project Zomboid to Next Car Game, to the drunken purchase that was Starforge…

    HOWEVER

    I definitely, definitely think there needs to be stricter guidelines on how early access is monitored and how it operates.

    For me, I don’t think you should be allowed to charge someone for an ‘early alpha’ – often there’s so little content, it’s so early in the development cycle – that really there is no product to buy, you’re buying the fumes of an idea and the hopes and dreams of a developer – I think customers need to be protected from that.

    Secondly – I definitely think that Steam have got this change wrong in terms “remember customers, it may never be finished – it’s entirely your responsibility” – if you’re buying an early access to a game you’re buying EARLY ACCESS TO A GAME – A FINISHED GAME – not to something that never sees the light of day – if it gets cancelled – you should receive a refund – that way developers will think twice before a quick cash-in.

    Thirdly – I think there needs to be guidelines on how often developers update their games – there should at least be some significant update every couple of months – we have situations like Starforge where it’s been YEARS, everyone knows it’ll never get finished and even if it does, it won’t have half of what was promised… no amount of ‘customer research’ can prepare you for that… should the customer suffer for that?

    Finally, I think early access should have enough content to be able to feedback on (similar to my first point) – early access needs to be on projects that are at least 50% complete – that way there is enough product to judge / play and it gives customer confidence that they’re at least halfway there.

    I also think early access should be given a loose timescale – i.e. “project must be completed within x years” – this kind of stuff needs REGULATION – not just having the buck passed to the customer. Steam need to be more rigorous in what they are passing through their doors and like others have said – it should be a totally separate section of store – not early access products in every chart on every pop-up in every promotion.

    I’ll continue to support early access (by researching developers / games / forums as thoroughly as I can) – I’m doing my bit – why aren’t Steam doing theirs?

  15. MkMax says:

    this is complete BS, early access should impose a time limit, let the developers choose fine, but then enforce it, if the game is not done by the end of the period cut them loose and refund the game at their cost maybe steam should hold on to a half of the money as a “refund fund” until they leave early access stage or hold on to all the money and release it as they achieve milestones sort of like a patreon thing

    Early access has become the justification for everything, you cant review the incomplete game, you cant call the incomplete game crap, you cant be mad at the developers for the game not working, there are no time windows, there are no responsibilities, but they get the money just as they would for a finished game, heck they often charge more than the full game

    although i wouldnt put the blame on valve completely, wtf is everyone doing buying early access games, if you are feeding the trolls, dont think you are blameless when they reproduce

  16. Distec says:

    Let’s blame Valve because gamers spend their money like idiots. Like they always have.

    I think there’s definitely some shady business going on with things like F2P and Early Access. But I find myself getting more irritated by the ignorance and entitlement from those who enable these business models and then bitch so heavily.

    • Jenks says:

      ^ Nothing else needs to be said.

    • MkMax says:

      Valve is enabling them, it has a fair share of the blame, that said, ppl bad buying habits with early access, preorders, season passes and dlc are doing a lot of damage to gaming in general

      • ramirezfm says:

        +1 for Distec.

        Valve is not enabling anything. Would you like Valve to tell you what to buy and what not to buy? If a person is devoid of any conscious thoughts and intellect then hey, natural selection.

        • MkMax says:

          they set up the system, they wrote the rules, they are taking a cut of the profits, they are hosting everything, but sure, they have no responsibility over that

          when a house you own is used as a crackhouse or whorehouse im sure you can just say “hey i have no responsibility for what those idiots do with their money !” to the judge

          • P.Funk says:

            They set up a system to cater to people’s willful spending habits. Thats a pretty normal business practice. We gonna blame the vendor for giving us what we want?

            Basically people are saying they’re too stupid to moderate their own spending so its up to the person who takes our money to judge whats best for us because we sure can’t.

            This is stupid. If people would just take a principled stand and not buy anything that isn’t 100% finished and avoid any games which are reported to be buggy and only buy them when they’re patched you’d see a very different marketplace. People won’t do this so you end up with thousands of day 1 sales on a buggy and disappointing Battlefield 4 and mountains of early access titles selling even when its obvious they all won’t turn into great games.

            Fundamentally you want valve to mitigate the unrealistic expectations of people? Those unrealistic expectations being that every game in development will become what they say it will become. The unrealistic expectation that every pre-release title will be in some arbitrarily “good” state and that the terms “early alpha” or “closed beta” and all the rest actually have a fixed definition.

  17. derbefrier says:

    I don’t mind it and I have bought a few early access titles. Some people seem to think its valves responsibility to protect them from themselves but I think that’s stupid. These games are clearly marked that they are unfinished so unless you can’t read or just ignore all this stuff its pretty hard not to know what you are getting into.

  18. SkittleDiddler says:

    I’m of the opinion that 90% of what is coming out on Steam these days is pure shit that isn’t fit to see the inside of a trash can, but I’ve only got myself to blame for buying Early Access titles. That said, how long is “too long”? Should we allow developers to get away with taking as long as they want to finish their EA titles? Should Valve not hold them accountable when they abandon their projects? Consumer awareness can only work with whatever information is available, after all.

  19. Rad says:

    Yes, “Early Access” is generally a mess. Yes, a vast majority of titles in “Early Access” are complete shite and not worth the coin.

    Do what I do: Ignore the existence of “Early Access” completely, pretend it doesn’t exist, and you and your games library be better for it.

  20. Jason Moyer says:

    I’ve had no issues with Early Access, except that I wish more games I’m looking forward to were put on there (Project Cars, I’m looking at you). Then again, I tend to base my purchasing of Early Access titles on my experience with and feelings towards the developer (Assetto Corsa, Grim Dawn, Wasteland 2, Sir You Are Being Hunted, etc). I’m sure I’d be disappointed if I bought one of the 8 million 4x space titles or zombie-themed open world survival games that pop up every day by unknown studios with goals that seem a bit far-fetched for a tiny first-time studio.

  21. bosseye says:

    I’ve bought 3 early access games – DayZ Standalone, Next Car Game and The Forest. All have glitches and bugs, but all have been fairly regularly updated (well, we assume The Forest will, its not been out long enough to comment) and all will presumably inch over the line to being a ‘complete’ product.

    I don’t regret paying for them, I’ve greatly enjoyed each of them in their own way and I do try to give feedback via the correct channels to try and drive the game to improve. If they never went any further then I would hardly be screaming for a refund as I’m aware of the risks and the outlay has been fairly low. Forest was only £11, NCG £15, DayZ £20

    However, I do think it would be of use to implement a deadline policy – this whole idone when its donei thing is open to abuse with devs still technically working on a game by releasing a minor update every 6 months, but at that rate the game is unlikely to ever turn into what was intended in a sensible timescale – let the devs set a deadline (within reason) but then penalise in some fashion if they can’t deliver a basically stable, feature complete product at the end of that time.

    • jezcentral says:

      Bosseye, it’s nice in theory, but impossible in practice. Devs will have taken the money, whether they ran themselves into the ground to try and finish the game, but came up short, or just ran off with the money. Limited liability makes this idea pure fiction.

  22. dE says:

    Oh I found this nice item in my D&D Campaign, great stuff.

    Cloak of Early Access
    + Gain Immunity: Reviews, Preview
    + On Hit (DC10): Summon Horde of ravenous Fanboys (lvl10)
    + On Useful Feedback (DC10): Summon Horde of ravenous Fanboys (lvl20)
    + On Useful Bugreport (DC5): Summon Horde of ravenous Fanboys (lvl40)
    + Gain 1000 Gold per day
    + Gain Feat: Monetary Ressources to finish
    - Reduced Saving Throw: Will (to finish) 20

    I’d be on better terms with Early Access if it didn’t spawn such a vile and toxic community. The principle seems nice enough. But as an unfinished product, it needs Feedback, Bugreport and Criticisms, yet for some reason people seem to think that these titles gain a complete immunity from them, because “beta, duuuh, idiot!”. I’ve seen it happen several times. Someone reports a proper Bug and is instantly drowned with several pages of personal attacks for daring to do so.
    Furthermore, the only case of Buyer Beware that applies to Early Access is to just not buy Early Access to begin with. The usual procedures are excempt, so no reviews, no state of the game articles. Criticism is drowned by the ravenous Horde of Fanboys that seems to attack more the more useful and close to the truth these reports are. What’s left is the Storepage and endless praise from people that judge it on what it could be, not what it is.

  23. Frank says:

    I’m fine with the policy (and implicitly understood it to be the case without having read it), but they’re just asking for trouble by not featuring it more prominently.

    But you know what’s “BS”, you rabble? Thinking that Valve has the resources to police these ridiculous regulations you suggest (time limits, quality levels, etc.) or that they want to. I understand if you were caught out by a bad Early Access experience. But, think about it — the fact that that happened to you might well mean that you are too stupid to come up with good recommendations on much of anything.

    • dE says:

      Cute. Nice try.

      • Frank says:

        Nah, I’m not trolling. I genuinely think that folks caught out by early access scams are in no position to pose as creatures of at-least-average intelligence.

        Sure, I’m “toxic” towards such, but I can hardly say any early access communities I’ve run into are (for the banner saga, rebuild, aerena). If that’s been your experience, probably you just like genres that attract toxic communities. Try simple turn-based games lacking in RPG elements, eh.

  24. Curratum says:

    So I guess my Dungeon Dashers is never getting finished huh? Dev has updated 2 times since going on EAccess late last year. Last update came in February. Well, never buying any other game early, I suppose. O wait, Killing Floor 2…

  25. Shooop says:

    This is why you should never buy an Early Access game unless you’re happy with it in its current state.

    It’s arguably worse than Kickstarter because if a Kickstarter fails you get your money back. Early Access means you’re buying a demo and they’re not required to give you a refund if it never gets finished because they can tell the court they did give you what you paid for.

    It’s the logical next step for the age of idiots throwing money at video games just so they can brag to their friends they own something. Take part in it, and you deserve nothing less than a demo for a game that will never be.

    • ramirezfm says:

      Some people like demos. Hell, Assetto Corsa seems to be the best demo ever. The Forest is broken in more ways than I can know right now and I still found it more fun than BF4 “full complete release”. KS can fail even if it’s successfully funded, at least with EA you are getting the demo…

      People should use brains more often. Right now it seems you’re paying for Early Access to be able to bitch at whatever you find not to your liking.

      • Shooop says:

        You got lucky enough to like the demos you bought. But if the games were suddenly canceled would you still think you got a good deal?

        Because until the game gets a full release that’s all you’ve really paid for. They now have legal grounds to say “We never promised you a finished product” and keep your money.

  26. Phinor says:

    It’s a good disclaimer to add for people who are too dumb for their own good.

    Much like with Kickstarter, I don’t really consider any of the flaws of Early Access actual problems. As with Kickstarter, the customer has all the power in the world – don’t buy! Simple as that. No developer can force you to buy anything. If you commit to buying though, take responsibility, you made the decision to purchase. Spamming forums about how you regret making that 20 dollar purchase makes you look like an idiot. You decided that you had to have the game right now rather than later. Well now you have it, live with it.

  27. jonahcutter says:

    I have no problem with early access. It’s basically “innocent until proven guilty”. The developers and their customers determine what is a success and what isn’t, not Valve existing as the mega-wealthy gatekeeper.

    It’s an extension of crowd-funding onto Steam. And crowd-funding, with all it’s highs and lows, is now permanently part of gaming. Which is a net positive in my book. There is no better stance for Valve to take that doesn’t unfairly shut out some who are deserving of access. That means some shadiness will accompany it. But it’s the best stance they could take in our brave new gaming world of early access and crowd-funding.

  28. trjp says:

    Can anyone explain to me why people are upset about the existence of things they are in no-way required to buy?

    Every time I see someone complain about Early Access, I see a picture of a toddler in a high chair banging it’s fists for something.

    If you don’t like the idea of Early Access (or Kickstarter or IndieGoGo or anything else like it) – don’t buy anything from it. That’s the only vote you get on the topic, really, don’t use it and it might go away (or not)

    You cannot even remotely be upset about the idea of games which ‘may never be finished’ because you couldn’t prove what ‘finished’ is anyway – I could point to any game I own and show something I consider ‘unfinished’ about it.

    If you follow a simple rule – and it’s one which people persistently prove themselves unable to understand so I’ll spell-it-out clearly – you’ll be fine.

    LOOK at what is on offer, READ other people’s experiences of it and then BUY it ONLY if you WANT what it is RIGHT NOW

    Do not buy anything on the promise of what it might be later – do not buy anything (Early Access or not) on the basis of what you HOPE it will be either. People who say things like “I hope this will be the next [insert classic game here]” are miserably parted with their money.

    Another way of putting this came-up on an Early Access Forum last week. Someone raised their toddler-like fists and screamed about poor performance despite their ‘stellar rig’ and the reply came…

    “I’m sorry but your brain does not meet the minimum requirements for this game” ;0

    • KevinLew says:

      I think that the problem is that in the end, the consumer is getting a worse experience from Steam by having broken rules that are now part of Steam (such as Early Access and the extremely inconsistent Greenlight system).

      Several years ago, Steam was almost a fortress. Sometimes a bad game would get into Steam on occasion, but for the most part, the quality control was fairly decent. However, the draconian system did more harm than good, as it prevented several good indie games (that weren’t from AAA publishers) from appearing on the storefront.

      The new model has swung hard in the opposite direction. Now there’s all kinds of ways to put games onto Steam. There’s now so many games that it’s becoming very hard to tell when a game has come out. In a way, it’s actually made indie games even harder to notice because they are buried under a constant flood of releases. In addition, without a curated storefront, gamers must commit to researching on their own and this can take hours. In other words, by putting a bunch of bad products all over Steam, it’s actually damaged Steam because it’s harder to find games that are actually good.

      • trjp says:

        No, No, No, No !

        Steam was never a ‘fortress’ against bad games (see above – they’ve had Bad Rats for a LONG time)

        The old submission system was broken, undermanned and most people gave-up before they got through it. That’s not curation, that’s just “doing a shitty job”

        There are more games on Steam now – more of them aren’t that good – that’s a correlation for sure but it’s not because some magical filter was removed – it’s just because “more of a thing”.

        I honestly think some people saw Steam as a convenient filter to save them looking anywhere else for games – holy moly that was a narrow-minded view to have then but to demand it remain that way is perverse.

  29. KevinLew says:

    I see a few big problems with Early Access. I definitely agree that “caveat emptor” and such should be used, I think there’s a serious issue with how the program was supposed to be used versus the reality. In other words, the spirit of the concept has been completely manipulated.

    I’m pretty sure that Early Access was a method for developers to basically create a form of semi-open beta which they could get funding to help complete a game, while also getting useful feedback and play testing. On paper, this should be a win-win for everybody. But the reality has turned out far different.

    Instead of games that are very close to ship or at least 50% complete, games can now enter Early Access in almost any state. I cannot emphasize how much of a terrible idea this is. One of the interesting things about game development is that, if you look at how good games are created, they often get modified very heavily or sometimes completely rewritten during their creation. But with Early Access, you can’t do this. If you realize that your prototype isn’t any good after a time, then you’re stuck. You can’t just scrap half of the game and start rewriting it. You can’t just change projects in the middle after you’ve sold it to Early Access buyers. Now you’re forced to go down the path of developing a game that, in the end, nobody really wants. Then games get delayed (probably forever).

    The other problem is that if you are really trying to go for an original idea, but you need to work out the bugs and kinks of it, then Early Access is the worst way to promote it. Gamers are conditioned to like only what they know. If you put in very different, original content that may not be polished, all of your feedback will be to get rid of it and make it more conformist. In other words, the “feedback” portion of Early Access doesn’t help developers at all if they release it too early. It just encourages boring vanilla game design, and players will push you to make it more like AAA games.

    • Frank says:

      Good points. But what would you have Steam do about it? Can they be expected to determine whether a project is far enough along to be a sure thing (that is worth making within the confines of its announced description) and ready for feedback? I fear they would just go back to their bad old way, effectively letting only “established” names like Introversion through.

      And I disagree with this:

      “On paper, this should be a win-win for everybody. But the reality has turned out far different.”

      I don’t see what the big deal is. Sucks for people who bought Towns in something other than a bundle, I guess. But live and learn, right?

  30. Auldman says:

    I’ve bought two EA games so far. One, Betrayer, I really did go with my gut on and it was not a bad instinct as I had a ton of fun with it and they did end up finishing the game so happy ending there. I also bought “Divinity: Original Sin” after reading about it here and watching a few let’s play vids and that’s the key thing with that buy: I researched it beforehand and “let’s play” is incredibly useful I think with EA titles when it exists for them. Divinity: OS has so far been amazing and it’s going to be released real soon. So far I have not been burned by EA whereas the games that have disappointed me have all been big titles with a lot of hype that failed to deliver on any of it. With EA just do your homework, check this blog, and look for videos and then know what you’re getting itno: an unfinished game.

  31. Myros says:

    If their position is:

    “So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.”

    Then there MUST be a criteria before acceptance to ensure that all games are PLAYABLE in their current state.

  32. elanaiba says:

    I’m going to go clear and say I’m an indie dev; Our game Door Kickers has been on Steam Early Access since September, and on sale on our own website since March 2013.

    We’re fairly experienced devs but a new studio, and without the income from the selling the in-development version we wouldn’t have been able to proceed with it. That was not an unforeseen event but actually the business plan, based on other successful titles that did the same, with happy devs and happy customers at the end of the day.

    Now we’re ok, have the budget to finish the game. In that respect, the visibility that Steam gives you is pretty big, just judging the copies sold there vs our web store.

    To that purpose any limitation like Steam withholding our money would affect our project greatly. And keep in mind that once you get the game out on Steam, in still takes 2 months before they send the developer the first bank transfer. If the game is that bed, you have 2 months to make noise, I guess?

    I’m not sure why people think Early Access games are exempt from reviews? We’ve had hundreds of requests for keys, to review, and they all mention the game is not finished, but now this or that works or doesn’t. Its only fair to do so, don’t review it as a final game but don’t pretend its a perfect game either.

    In fact, you can find reviews on Steam too, why don’t you look there to see if a game is worth your money?
    For example: http://steamcommunity.com/app/248610/reviews/?p=1&browsefilter=toprated

    Also, the amount of Let’s Play videos available on most games let you see pretty clearly the state of any game, if you do your research, you can’t buy a game uninformed. See for example NerdCubed playing our game: http://youtu.be/ImjxcTxjB_c

    We’ve been very straightforward in taking criticism, going for the critics and not shutting them down but actually asking for details to see how we can improve the game or how we can answer their concerns. Our inboxes are always open, and we read, watch, actively seek information on our game.

    Now, our customers seem pretty happy to support us in developing this game, perhaps for fear that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to and they’d be left with no game in an underpopulated niche. I know the feeling, as I’ve kickstarted a couple of projects too, and can’t wait to get Darkwood and Ultimate General on Early Access.

    Now, why are you saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to help us with their money? Or why shouldn’t I be allowed to help Darkwood with my money?

    • Frank says:

      I don’t think Nathan’s saying that Early Access shouldn’t exist, but just that Steam should not lend it credibility, since he and the RPS crew are very skeptical of nontraditional funding models.

      • elanaiba says:

        Well, I’m actually not commenting on the original article, which I find balanced, but rather on the comments above me, some of which are really going on the train of “ban Early Access/make games in Early Access free/devs are evil”.

        RPS have been pretty good to Early Access titles, including ours. We love RPS. Yay!

  33. w0bbl3r says:

    So does that mean I can now get a refund on games I bought BEFORE they put this up? Because I was under the impression that I was buying a game EARLY access. Not just ACCESS. Early means before time.
    So valve have now absolved themselves of any responsibility to police steam at all? There is a HUGE surprise….

    Sorry, can’t type much, I am in sarcasm overload from that last remark I made. Should stop doing that.

    Valve are rapidly (and I mean VERY rapidly) becoming one of my most hated companies in gaming. They are definitely up there with ubisoft, although not quite on a par with actiblizzionard or EA “games” just yet. But they will be there by this time next year.
    They are losing supporters very quickly these days, and the worst thing is that they don’t care. Because they are spending less, they can afford to make less. Removing all those people who used to run the steam store has saved them a fortune, and they decided to “let the users” police it. Good move.
    All they care about now is that ridiculous controller (that looks awful and has been almost universally slated by pretty much anyone who has had a chance to try it) and the “steam box”, which alienware have already admitted will be their least profitable system ever.
    This is modern day GabeN/Valve. And since that’s how it is, they can suck my fat one.

  34. Lemming says:

    It’s weird but if you’d had Early Access as a thing before Steam got super-popular and ‘mainstreamed’ PC gaming, you’d probably have no issues. It’s because Steam has made PC gaming so mainstream we’ve got the loud complainers who can barely read let alone fathom the idea of an in-progress game. I’ve frequented multiple Steam forums for various games and it’s frankly amazing these people have PCs that can play games in the first place, as there’s no rite of passage they’ve had to go through to understand basic PC maintenance, settings tweaking or simply looking up if someone’s had your issue before.

    The noise is only going to get louder the easier PC gaming gets, sadly.

  35. SighmanSays says:

    I think TB said it best. If the game is being offered at a price point on an open market (so not Kickstarter), it should be considered as a released product. Because that’s what it is. Alphabeta, early access, founder pack, whatever, it’s open to consumer purchase and thus reviewers should provide consumer-oriented opinion and advice, and consumers should evaluate the purchase based on how the game is, not how it’s promised to be later. If you do it for AAA titles that are still unfinished on launch (like, oh, say, Watch_Dags), you shouldn’t excuse a smaller title just because of the labels.

  36. mariandavid says:

    What I cannot stand is people complaining about a process just because other people (not them of course) are too dumb to realize that an early access game is qualified in some way. They are warned so it is their fault if caught and preventing this by ending the procedure simply deprives the competent to protect the incompetent.

  37. Jad says:

    There’s a bunch of things that can be said on this topic, but to start, I have one simple question:

    Are there really that many of you who actually go to the Steam front page just to browse and peruse and purchase some random game?

    Since long before Valve started Early Access and Greenlight, when it was supposedly this utopia of heavy curation, with AAA-published games and polished, finished, big-name indies, Steam still sucked as a way to discover new games that you can trust to be good. There were plenty of terrible, buggy AAA games with nice screenshots on there.

    I go to Rock Paper Shotgun, I watch Quick Looks on Giantbomb, I used to visit Kotaku (haven’t been back there in a long time now though), and when these sources that I generally trust say a game is good, and when I see something that interests me, then I go onto Steam, search for it and buy it.

    With this simple method I have built a Steam backlog that probably could last me for the rest of my life. (… well, and I also buy way too many bundles, just like everyone else).

    I’ve purchased only a couple of Early Access games, and I’ve had no issues with them. I saw a Quick Look for Electronic Super Joy on Giant Bomb, and it turned out to be one of my favorite games last year. It was in Early Access, but I’m not even sure why it was there because it was pretty much done — but that was something I did not have to guess at, because that was clear from the Giant Bomb video.

    I bought Prison Architect soon after it was released on EA because of an article on RPS, and the game was as broken and buggy but also as glorious and fun (and disturbing) as RPS described it. I definitely feel like I’ve already gotten my money’s worth with that game and all of the new features that I’ll have whenever I get the time to return to it will just be a bonus to me.

  38. airknots says:

    Early Access on Steam = Good. Mixing Early Access games with Final Releases = Bad.
    I also wish that there’s a tab for re-released old games (Currently under new releases: Trucks and Trailers, Release Date: 17 Jun 2011)

    Valve is probably aware that the “New Releases” tab is so cluttered, that they changed the default tab to “Top Sellers”.

  39. tsff22 says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to only have been burned on one Early Access purchase, Paranautical Activity. The other ones I’ve purchased are either already pretty good in their current state (Starbound, Underrail, Guns N Zombies, Dead Island Epidemic), or have since been fully released and are excellent. (State of Decay, Full Mojo Rampage)

  40. solymer89 says:

    A fool and his money are soon parted. Would you pay for a half baked donut? A partially cooked meal? Am I hungry? These are all valid questions. The answers are hell no! … and yes.

  41. vegeta1998 says:

    I guess I don’t care. Early access is good tool for indie developers but I don’t like how it is exploited by some already cashed up corporations.

    Mostly I just get pissed off that lately the Steam store and RPS is so spammed up with so many Early Accesslikes that they are totally unintelligible.
    Functional content at release is a museum piece these days.

    • P.Funk says:

      “Functional content at release is a museum piece these days.”

      We have only ourselves to blame. If we didn’t buy so much at early access then we wouldn’t see them try to sell it to us so often. The market doesn’t operate in a vacuum. The same people who complain enable a system by participating in it. All they want is our money and if we’re careless enough to part with it before we’ve been guaranteed or can see proof of the value we expect from the product for ourselves then we’re the fools.

  42. PopeRatzo says:

    What percentage of Early Access games have actually ever been finished. I bet it’s pretty small.

    It’s a scam. the only people who like Early Access are failed and wannabe developers who see it as a way to not have to deliver the goods.

    • tsff22 says:

      Off the top of my head: Don’t Starve, Full Mojo Rampage, State of Decay.

  43. Crazy Horse says:

    Trouble in paradise? Volvo, please..

  44. Lionmaruu says:

    I still think of early access as some kind of “kickstarter”. but then again I would only put any money on unfinished products if they could deliver fun for the money (like minecraft, for example). I rarely buy any game even on beta, much less kickstarter or alpha(early access).

    while I think those games SHOULD have a mandatory “demo”, I dont know why people think steam (or any other store) should do anything about it if you don’t like the game you bought, well, you bought it no one made you do it, if you did it without thinking it is your problem.

  45. namad says:

    early access in proto form was basically pre-order for a beta invite…. back in the pre-order for a beta invite days of 2-8years ago or so if you pre-ordered for a beta invite and then suddenly the game company decided the game was never coming out, you’d have grounds for a refund!

    steam is basically saying, you’re on your own, we’re not doin shit anymore, we’re going copy the apple store because apple is rich, suck it plebs.

  46. MadTinkerer says:

    Well, since I have an opinion on this, I guess I’ll put mine out there. But I’ll say right now I totally sympathize with those who take the opposing view. In fact, I don’t think you guys are wrong at all, and there are some cases where you’re absolutely right to be angry.

    But not all cases. Early access is a way to give a chance to projects that otherwise would stop before they began. Remember when Minecraft was garbage? I do. I first knew about Minecraft within a few months of the very first release, (which was really atrocious) and when RPS first wrote about it a few months later I rolled my eyes and went “Oh, that game. Well if RPS likes it so much I’ll try it again.” then it overheated my laptop and I needed to get a replacement hard drive. Eventually, shortly before the Halloween Update, I was persuaded to try Minecraft yet again, and it had settings which helped me avoid melting my laptop, and I forgave Notch and was able to enjoy the game.

    Now, indeed, not every game is Minecraft. but not every developer is Notch. If Ken Silverman didn’t get a publishing deal for Ken’s Labyrinth when he was a teenager and had to rely solely on his web skills to get people to notice his games, Duke Nukem 3 would have been another 2D platformer. (Apologies to Ken; I’m a big fan of his game engines, but his personal website is adorably terrible) Notch already knew both how to make networked multiplayer 3D games as well as web development, and we really can’t expect everyone to reinvent for themselves what Notch did.

    Also, it’s nice to give people a way to jump on the bandwagon of successful Kickstarters-in-progress without being forced to wait for the full release. So there’s that.

    Bottom line is: if someone is a fraud, they’ll be caught. This is the Internet. Don’t worry about frauds getting away with nonsense, form angry mobs and punish them! You are the curators of Steam! If something is great, show them your support! If something is obviously fraudulent, use all social media at your disposal without mercy!

    I’ve been happy with nearly everything I’ve been able to afford to buy, but if I do get burned, I’ll be sure to join in with the pitchforks and torches and we’ll all be on the same side on that particular thing. In the meantime, curate away and don’t worry about con artists getting away with schemes. This is the Internet: public schemes are always exposed and we do not know the meaning of mercy.