Planetary Annihilation Early Access Being Sold In Stores

By Nathan Grayson on July 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am.

The practice of releasing alpha or beta games as part of an “Early Access” plan is not, in itself, inherently harmful. It can be quite good for a game when developers priorities are in order and everyone is given plenty of information about what they’re getting into upfront. Planetary Annihilation‘s early access version on brick-and-mortar store shelves, though? In a box, packaged up all shiny and new, bristling with implied promise of completeness and even going so far as to say, “includes free upgrade to full game”? Welcome, friends, to Murky Territory.

The retail version is on Game shelves now for £39.99, where a Redditor snapped that shot. It’s £10 more than the current online price, though includes an exclusive Commander.

Here’s what developer Uber Entertainment had to say about the latest potentially confusing blast in the era of modern storefare:

“At Uber we’ve been trying really hard to innovate on business models during the entire development of [Planetary Annihilation]. We had planned to do a retail release all along and the early access box came about as part of our experimental attitude. Since early access works so well, our partners at Nordic thought that it would be worth trying an early access retail edition and we agreed it was a cool idea.”

“The real question is, why not? After all, they are getting the same game, just earlier. It’s a changing world and we hope to continue trying out new and innovative ways to make games.”

Which is maybe not the healthiest attitude to have given the potential risks involved. If Uber is gonna take the lead on doing this sort of thing at retail, I feel like their attitude should be one of responsibility and understanding, not “hey, why not?” Because to be frank, there are quite a few reasons “why not.”

People still aren’t fully educated about this stuff online, so I can’t even imagine a doting grandmother or younger kid in a store being able to immediately grasp it all. They will likely see a box with a robot (like in Transformers!), some lava (like in Transformers!), and something called an Armalisk (like in Transformers?). And hey, it basically says it contains the full game right on the front, so why worry?

Early Access is tough to pin down. It varies from game-to-game, and even properly educated buyers can’t really know exactly what they’re in for. In fairness, Planetary Annihilation is in a pretty solid state overall, and genres like MMOs have already bucked the trend of being truly “complete” upon birth from cardboard wombs. In other words, this isn’t totally unprecedented. It still feels weird to me, though. What do you think?

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119 Comments »

  1. SAeN says:

    I see little difference from selling beta access on Steam and selling it in a box.

    • The Dark One says:

      Well, the Steam store page has a big blue banner, with a warning message and a link to a page that says:

      What is the game like to play right now?

      When you buy an Early Access game, you should consider what the game is like to play right now. Look at the screenshots and videos to see what the game looks like in its current state. There are a lot of ways a game can go as it develops over time, so if you aren’t excited to play the game in its current state, then hold off and wait until the next update–it shouldn’t be far off.

      None of that is visible in the photograph of the retail copy.

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        c-Row says:

        It might the interesting to see the back of the box to be sure there isn’t such an explanation somewhere, though.

    • Emeraude says:

      I tend to agree with the position for the most part: as long as what it entails is properly advertised on the box, I don’t see what makes it acceptable in an online, digital download focused shop that wouldn’t in a brick and mortar one.

      I mean, personally I tend to be against.. If only because removing from producers the demand that they deliver a properly functioning product makes for a dangerous set up. But if you accept it on one platform, I can’t see why you wouldn’t on another.

      • InternetBatman says:

        On the other hand, I think there’s several natural barriers that will prevent public beta from becoming the norm. One is competition; the game that is more finished at release is more fun to play, which likely means a larger audience than the one that gets there eventually. Another is reputation; Obsidian has been fighting it’s reputation for bugs for years, and that’s almost certainly a factor in them holding off on beta access for backers. Another is turning off potential evergreen customers and reviewers; reviewers hate bugs and rarely offer complete reviews. If a bug gets in the way of those critical first four hours, even if it’s a relatively minor fix, reviewers will complain vociferously.

        Finally, and perhaps most importantly, people will have stopped paying attention to a game by the time it’s at its most complete.

        • Emeraude says:

          Seems to me like you’re assuming the developers/publishers will necessarily want to deliver a finished, fully realized product.

          That may not be the case. Which is one of the most dangerous aspects of the set up, I think.

          Obviously dishonest intent is going to remain an exception, at least I believe so, but for one, given,how low the current level of trust is in the industry between the publishing/creative side and the consumers, is it really worth it to add that in the well water ? And then remains the issue of lowering standards across the board.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I’m against early access in stores in general. To me, third party retailers should be selling full, finished products, not works in progress. If game publishers/devs want to sell their game for early access to potential backers they are free to do so through their own websites.
        The big problem I have is that there is, at the moment, seemingly no punishment for those who actually don’t finish their games, or release it half assed after taking a bunch of money from early access. This is why I think it sets a dangerous precedent of selling it everywhere. The bigger early access becomes the more people will adopt it and the more fraudulent cases we will see with seemingly no recourse at the moment for gamers getting full refunds.

        If stores are to be participating in selling early access and making money from unfinished games then they themselves need to be responsible for full refunds, if a game is not finished then they have essentially sold a misrepresented product and to me this then becomes little more than credit card fraud on their part. The issue is that it’s such a grey area, how long do you have to wait before a game officially becomes a scam? If the game gets no updates in a year then gets “released” as a broken mess, what happens then? Steam could remove the title, it’s still taken a lot of early access money at that point, where do people go for refunds?. Until these questions are answered then to me Steam or anybody else should not be selling unfinished products.

  2. Curratum says:

    I’m actually all for it. I want this to get as much exposure as possible and have other EAccess devs follow in its footsteps. Then when 75% of the devs never follow up on their promises and games go without content updates for a full year, this whole terrible practice that Steam brought to live simply collapses under its own layers and layers of bullshit.

    There are already multiple stories of EAccess games that every reasonable person will consider abandoned and dead, yet there’s very little being said about this in any gaming media.

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      Rikard Peterson says:

      EAccess – “It’s in the [Tex Murphy] Game”?

    • aiusepsi says:

      Steam brought to life? If anything Steam was late to the game on Early Access. Minecraft was really the high-profile pioneer of the concept.

  3. qrter says:

    That they call it an ‘edition’, feels a bit dirty to me. Then you’re getting into the ‘retailspeak’ of special editions, which imply that you’re getting something special, something extra.

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      c-Row says:

      An exclusive commander as mentioned in the article above for example?

      • joshmouch says:

        This is false advertising, plain and simple. It says “includes free upgrade to full game,” which does not exist and may never exist.

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          c-Row says:

          They are selling physical pre-order boxes all the time. The one huge difference here is that you can actually play the game in its current state while that other game might never see a release whatsoever.

  4. Fox89 says:

    It’s an incredibly dangerous precedent. I’d be very interested to see the back of the box, because I’d like to see some very big, very clear notices that Uber may or may not ever provide the ‘full game’ advertised on the front, and there is no guarantee when this will happen.

    I’m sure this particular game will deliver a full experience sooner or later and no particular badness will happen. But what about when Molenyeux does it with GODUS only to decide a few months later that the entire project is unsalvageable and needs to be canned?

    I’m also not a fan of retail shelf space being taken away from complete games and given to ‘Early Access’ games. At least on a digital store front you have a theoretically endless number of pages and filters to hide Early Access away where it belongs (you know, if Steam can be bothered to use it), but in a brick and mortar shop there are only so many boxes you can physically fit on the displays.

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    Anthile says:

    As longs as it it sufficiently labeled… but even that will not stop people from buying it and still complain. If the Steam forums are any indication then the ability to buy games and reading comprehension do not overlap all that much in a Venn diagram.
    So yeah, it might just be more trouble than it’s worth but if the recent Wasteland 2 newsletter was right then even a bit more exposure can drastically improve your income, unfinished product or not.

  6. ColdSpiral says:

    I kickstarted PA for way too much money, but I haven’t been able to play a full match thanks to my rubbish unreliable antipodean internet access. The server-side beta “gamma” gameplay just causes too much difficulty for me, so I’m holding out for release, where there had better be an offline mode.
    If someone with a connection like mine were to pick this up off the shelf they’d find themselves with an unplayable mess, and with the generally unreturnable nature of PC games, well. This isn’t the best of ideas.

    • shinkshank says:

      To be fair, it’s sort of a given that playing anything that isn’t turn-based with a wonky internet connection is going to cause you problems.

      On the other hand, I’ve got a pretty damn crippled internet connection, and yet with my crippled eastern european internet connection I can still play it with my american friends without too much trouble, so I don’t know what to tell you. The game is still waiting for a few more waves of general optimization, so maybe it’ll work better for you at launch?

      • ColdSpiral says:

        That’s what I’m banking on.
        Though in honesty it’s the same deal as Dialbo 3 – I’d much rather be running more of the game client-side, and I’m hoping they follow through with their promises of LAN servers & offline mode…

      • FaultlessDark says:

        My internet connection died the other night so I fired up the portable hotspot on my phone and used my ~2Mb connection on my phone to play SupCom (via Hamachi) and Starcraft 2 online with my friends and had no issues what-so-ever. Now If I was to do that with PA I wouldn’t have a cat-in-hells chance of getting a playable game; So I agree that they really need to get this server side stuff over with and give us an offline mode for when a sufficient Internet connection is not available.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Depends on the nature of the wonkiness. Disconnects are annoying but if the game handles them well it can work out (e.g. I was playing Stellar Impact while having a bit of connection trouble that prevented me from playing Diablo 3). Bandwidth is another thing, I’d guess PA is a bit more demanding on the bandwidth than a regular RTS with synchronized gamestates (Spring devs say that a dialup connection is enough for a 4 player game on Spring due to the conventional RTS netcode model not needing much traffic).

    • Lemming says:

      Galactic War is single-player mode isn’t it?

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        Tom De Roeck says:

        as far as I know, the game can be played singleplayer, multiplayer, metagameplayer, whatever, ala Total Annihilation, whatever the last update/expansion was called.

      • ColdSpiral says:

        Yep, but during early access there’s no offline option. Or wasn’t, a few builds ago when I last checked.

  7. riadsala says:

    If there are any problems with this, they are tiny compared to the larger issue in PC gaming: all too often developers release “finished” games at retail that are nothing of the sort. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to come up with a list of reasonably high profile “finished” games that shipped with game breaking bugs, broken game mechanics, etc etc.

    At least in this case, Uber are being upfront and honest about the fact that the game isn’t complete.

    • Bull0 says:

      This, so much this. Bravo. I’m flinging happy thoughts in your direction. They’re being totally up front about it, and hey, you get a special commander. Everything’s more expensive in Game, so the price doesn’t really factor into it much for me. (I say everything; I got a nice deal in their 3 for 2 a while back)

      Let’s talk about how murky selling a crap BF4 mod as a full-priced sequel is! Let’s talk about the sorry state many AAA games get released in! Let’s talk about DLC and subscriptions! There’s your real murk.

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      FhnuZoag says:

      I like how BF4, in your view, has shifted the Overton window sufficiently that this is all acceptable now. What will you next define as acceptable because a major publisher has done worse previously?

    • Baines says:

      Yes. Nathan calls it “Murky Territory”, but it is more honest that what publishers have already been doing for years, releasing unfinished games as finished products. Games that require Day One or even Day Zero patches to obtain full functionality. Games that don’t obtain full functionality until months after release. Games that never obtain full functionality, because the publisher already got its money and decided it wasn’t cost effective to keep working on it. (Those publishers will also happily continue to sell broken games on Steam, with no intention or plan to fix them.)

    • Distec says:

      The problem is that the Early Access label effectively shields you from criticism.

      BF4 was shipped in a sorry state and got roundly hammered for it. An EAccess game can always throw out the “Well it’s not finished” excuse, and supporters are particularly prone to do so as well, from what I’ve seen. Just because big publishers have been historically bad at this doesn’t make this any less concerning. Their honesty about their gaming being incomplete really doesn’t change anything. You’re accepting money for a boxed product housing an unfinished game that nobody can rightly review. How many other products work this way, again?

      Considering that the behemoths of gaming are starting to take lessons from EAccess, Kickstarter, and Indie success stories, this is something I’d rather NOT see become common place. Especially if the best reason you can come up with is “Why the fuck not?”.

      • Baines says:

        Distec, publishers for years haven’t even bothered with having an excuse for the same behavior.

        Sadly, the lesson that they’ve learned from Battlefield 4 is “Stay silent and don’t admit fault.” DiCE admitted responsibility, and Battlefield 4 is now held as some videogame disaster.

        Two years earlier, Activision had the remnants of Infinity Ward work with around three other studios to release the laughably broken and ill-supported Modern Warfare 3. Complaints arose quickly. Infinity Ward claimed Beachhead was solely responsible for the broken web elements, controversial contest results and such. As for the game itself, Infinity Ward not only denied responsibility, they outright denied that many issues were actually issues at all. Players saw a year of lies, confusion, bungled patches, and utter ineptitude on every level. But somehow the idea never caught on that MW3 was a videogame disaster. Why? No one involved ever admitted fault or responsibility.

        Aliens: Colonial Marines remains a punchline, but the mark it left on Gearbox itself is already fading. Many never gave up on Gearbox at all. This was a case where at best Gearbox was inept, letting a self-professed “beloved” project languish in limbo before finally realizing they had a firm release date and nothing playable. Other cases included criminal claims such as embezzlement and fraud. Even the non-criminal items included allegations that Gearbox itself was responsible for the broken ship state (ignoring the looming presence of Sega, and then breaking the game that they were given in a last minute bungled rush.) So why is the mark on Gearbox already fading, if not already largely gone? Gearbox never really owned up to their part in the fiasco. Gearbox shifted blame onto TimeGate, didn’t acknowledge their own responsibilities, and even painted themselves as somewhat misguided heroes who tried to make the best of a bad situation that others had put them into. (Pitchford did similar with Duke Nukem Forever.)

        • Distec says:

          I understand that large publishers have been getting away with this kind of thing for some time. But I am not comfortable with outright legitimizing that kind of behavior, and I’m not about to start granting exceptions because of “indie”.

    • Emeraude says:

      Well, as soon as we accepted the really weird Jedi Mind Trick played on us that it was now customers’ obligation to be able to update the products, and not developers’ to deliver a properly working one, there was no coming back.

      The advent of those ubiquitous clients with mandatory online activation and account has somehow reversed the perception of customers to the point that is even now often considered the customers’ fault if internet access is impossible.

      (Incidentally, this is why I tend to be against the DLC model as it grew. The way I see it it absolves developers from delivering a properly constructed and complete game the way that ubiquitous patching solutions absolved publishers from releasing properly working games.)

  8. HadToLogin says:

    Unlike Battlefield 4, Uber at least don’t pretend they sell buggy and unfinished game :)

    But in few years everything will be sold as Early Access…

    • HauntedQuiche says:

      Exactly, while BF4 was widely criticised for being a buggy, unplayable heap of shit, EAccess developers can just sit there, hiding their game from all critics by waving their ‘EarlyAccess’ shield.

      If this is acceptable, then full, scored reviews of Early Access games is also acceptable, and any claims of ‘but the problems are because of it’s developement stage’ can fuck off. You can’t have it both ways.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I know some publications have or at least used to have a “exactly as it ships” review policy where they’d avoid even launch day patches for their verdict. That sounds very useful here.

  9. Volcanu says:

    On the one hand the box does at least have a prominent banner proclaiming that it’s Early Access, which is something I suppose.

    But then I kind of agree with Nathan. The people I know (anecdotally) that still buy PC games at retail tend to be somewhat less savvy / less likely to read gaming websites and know what ‘Early Access’ actually means. In fact it almost sounds like a good thing. “Cool, I’m getting my game early AND with a free commander”.

    I also wonder if it’s clear that you’ll need to download/update to the full version in due course. The other kind of person I know who buys retail PC games is the kind that doesn’t have good internet/ can’t do big downloads. I realise buying a primarily multiplayer RTS would be a touch foolish if that were the case but still.

    • P.Funk says:

      People who buy things because they look shiny and new deserve to lose their money, especially in a age of smart phones and tablets with permanent internet access. You literally now only need to delay your gratification for a few minutes to serach the net on your phone, compared to 10 years ago when you’d have to go home to look something up.

      Not that it matters. There will always be people who part with their money foolishly. My dad is one of them. He’s been using computers for years longer than me, he taught me how to use DOS when I was wee. Nevertheless he always makes rash impulsive purchases that he regrets because he NEVER thinks and researches first.

      Are we really going to get bent out of shape for these people? Everyone knows fools will always exist. I’m no capitalist, but you can’t sanitize the marketplace of bad value just to protect people too dim to make informed choices. Protection should only exist to prevent deception and misleading products from being sold, and I don’t consider willful ignorance and impulsive decision making an aspect of that protection.

      We live in an era of unprecedented instantaneous information access. The absence of informed decision making amongst consumers is a deeper cultural problem not simply ameliorated by poo pooing early access stickers in the few remaining brick and mortars.

  10. Rao Dao Zao says:

    The thing is, I like to buy physical boxes so I don’t tank my internet data limits with massive downloads. If I buy the early access box, then I have to download the game anyway when it’s done…

    Well, I don’t like playing unfinished stuff anyway. I like my meat cooked.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I suppose this is where I insert the obligatory SpringRTS-as-an-alternative-to-PA pitch, downloading Spring plus a mod and maps is about a hundred MB (depending on the number of maps you download, due to them being user created there’s obviously a LOT available) and you can get a finished game with more or less Total Annihilation-like mechanics (depending on the mod you pick, since the engine favors TA-style stuff mods tend to favor that style overall) that way.

  11. Trespasser in the Stereo Field says:

    This is why PC gamers can’t have nice things. Years ago we were complaining that there should be electronic distribution for all software that we could buy in stores. Now we’re complaining that stores shouldn’t sell the same items we have access to in electronic distribution models?

    At any rate — Nathan, you set up an interesting question but essentially answer it with “think of the children!”

  12. SquareWheel says:

    Neat. As long as it’s clearly labeled I’ve no problem with that.

  13. Artist says:

    The lack of proper Game Design Documents

    I was involved to some degrees in the development of different games over the past 15yrs. What still baffles me about Kickstarters/Early Access is the usual lack of the release of a complete so-called “Game Design Document”, which is mandatory if your project deals with publishers and investors.

    Full Game Design Documents pretty much nail down the gameplay mechanics, presention, artwork, architecture and often even the scheduled workload and mandatory financial investments. It doesnt need to be set in stone but its pretty much the most complex roadmap and in-detail presentation of a game project.

    In relation Kickstarters and many WIP-releases are unbelievable arbitrary in their description. Also, not having such a proper design document, prototypes or at least concept art should lead to the question how professional a developer really is and is a core of a significant lack of transparancy.
    Still people usually accept that and are confused when a project doesnt work out as it was showcased.

    The release of a complete design document should be mandatory and enforced by platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Steam, etc. And no, it does not mean everything has to be set in stone.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_design_document

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      Hell no. Being forced to stick to a rigidly defined design doc negates any benefits that early access may have. Iteration based on feedback is the whole point. Your caveat “does not have be set in stone” is meaningless because if you start up front with an exact “this is how it’s going to be” design any deviation from the initial spec will mean an instant shitstorm: “this is not what I backed” etc. That’s no way to make a game.

      If I back a game I want devs to be able to explore ideas and course correct where needed, not paint by predefined numbers.

      • Artist says:

        Sorry, but thats rubbish. Most design documents (that are not part of publisher/investor contracts) will (and have to) be constantly edited, modified and adjusted.
        When thats be stated its exactly no difference related to the current development procedures BUT you have more profound info of instead the usual arbitrary descriptions.
        Because that often arbitrary and unclear descriptions are what usually leads to the misunderstandings between backers, supporters and (even more) early access buyers.
        Proper Design Documents should be mandatory!

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          If you make design docs part of a crowdfunding pitch that makes it part of the contract. You are saying if you back this game this is the exact set of features you will get. This leaves no room for iteration.

          It’s also ignoring the fact that not all games are suited to intricate design docs. It may work for well-understood genres but games that are more experimental are best built through prototyping and iteration, not documentation.

          If a dev chooses to lay out a detailed plan they think will work that’s up to them, but no way should it be mandatory.

          • leandrombraz says:

            You are missing his point. He is saying that the consumer should be better informed, know more about where they are putting their money. The developers won’t lose their freedom to use feedback and change, they will merely be more clear about their vision, what they are trying to achieve and what changed when they decide to change. Instead of a vague promise, you have a nice document full of detailed info. After all, even if the idea is to be more open, there’s no harm in being most clear as possible about your vision, people are giving you money after all. There will be people disappointed that the game didn’t turn out as they thought it would be in anyway, at least with a document they was well informed.

            I don’t think it should be mandatory for kickstarter since it’s donation, so whatever, you aren’t really entitled to anything, you are helping someone who asked for help and they can show you the middle finger for all I care, but early access is a product in development being sold at full price. This consumers are buying a promise, they should at least have a detailed explanation of this promise.

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            Am I? I take issue with the blanket requirement for a design doc on ALL kickstarters and early access games. Projects may be at very different stages of development at which varying amounts of detail are appropriate.

            For something as far along as Planetary Annihilation, you could definitely make an argument for a public to-do list (subject to change), but for projects earlier in development this may not work so well.

            In Artist’s ‘ideal’ scenario Double Fine Adventure, one of my favourite kickstarters, could not have existed.

          • jazzycaz says:

            Yeah, I understand the intent behind wanting to inform consumers on where the game is going, but sometimes I feel like the designers don’t even know themselves what they want to do until it’s underway. For an example, I’ll point you guys to the original pitch document for Bioshock (http://irrationalgames.com/insider/from-the-vault-may/). The core mechanics are there- fighting cultists using a combination of weapons and genetic modification- but pretty much everything else is completely different. There’s a totally different story, a lack of mechanics that appeared in the final game, and several mechanics that never made it to the final game (story-based deathmatch, anyone?). If Bioshock did an early release and THAT was what consumers had in their mind when they thought Bioshock, then would they have made the same game that they have? Would it even have been the critically acclaimed game it is, or would it have been another filler FPS? That’s why I feel like adding these specs would lock developers in when they shouldn’t be afraid to iterate, overhaul, and scrap ideas. Sometimes, the ideas you have in the beginning are just wrong. Software developers know this all too well. “Plan to make it twice- you’ll throw one away anyway” is a quote that exists for a damn good reason.

      • trooperwally says:

        Where do you get this idea that they are being held to do exactly as it says in the game design doc? Any kind of large professional project has an equivalent and it is (to use horrible corporate speak) a “living document”, it changes. However, you wouldn’t want to embark on your endeavour without one.

        I appreciate that it requires quite a lot of effort to make a proper design doc but that’s rather the point. If you can’t or won’t make a detailed and credible plan then why should I or anyone else financially support your plan? It seems like a fairly reasonable trade.

        Sure plans change and ideas that went in the original design doc turn out to be impossible, undesirable, bad, whatever, but at least if you edit your document and explain the change you have transparency. The backers can understand what’s changing and why. Kickstarter projects generally haven’t got a lot going for them in terms of credibility and they need to grasp every opportunity to obtain enough credibility to make them projects worth backing. Writing a good design doc is a solid start.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          See above. Backers may be understanding about delays or even games being split into parts at times, but if you say “this game will have feature X”, then decide ultimately the feature isn’t that fun or doesn’t mesh with what the game wants to be, you have a problem. “I’m sure backers will understand” is a pretty big assumption.

          Obviously you should have a clear idea of what you’re trying to do and communicate that direction to your backers but you don’t need to know the hitpoints of the 2nd enemy on level 3 to know whether a game is worth backing or not. There’s a difference between not sharing every detail of your plan and not having a plan. Plus how detailed that plan needs to be varies enormously from project to project and team to team.

          For a one- or two person team for example extensive documentation may be a waste of time.

          • leandrombraz says:

            You will have people disappointed because the game is going in a direction that is different of what they thought it would be in anyway, this is one of the reasons I see early access as a model that doesn’t work. Warning people that nothing is set in stone and giving then a detailed plan is better than a vague explanation that is open for interpretation. If the development doesn’t match my interpretation, I might be disappointed. Adding a document won’t create a problem that already exist.

            IMO this is the biggest disadvantage of developing a game with the players involvement. If you develop in close doors, there’s no expectations. If nobody saw that cool mechanic that didn’t work after all, you can take it out of your game with none issue. It’s that Bioshock Infinite issue on steroids, where their older gameplay trailers showed a lot of cool stuffs that never made to the final game. With people playing your game while you develop, this is just worse, you have to deal with all kinds of expectations and any change you do might disappoint someone.

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            Rikard Peterson says:

            “I’m sure backers will understand” is a pretty big assumption.

            Indeed. And even if (most of) the actual backers don’t have a problem with it, there’ll still be a bunch of people being upset about it. Looking at existing Kickstarted games, it seems to be people looking at it from a distance that do most of the angry shouting.

            In general, I’d wish for fewer people to be backseat drivers (everybody seems to be experts on how to run a Kickstarter campaign, or how to best design a game, at least if they’ve never done it). A bit more trust in the developers’ abilities and professionalism would be nice. They’re supposed to be the experts in the field. (If you think you can do better, why don’t you? These days, all you need to make a game is time and skills.)

            But at the same time, I’d like people to have less faith in early access and kickstarted games. Don’t go in blindly assuming it’ll be great. If it’s a project you strongly believe in and want to help the developers by giving them a bit of extra money, that’s great, do that. That’s a great help to some developers – just don’t have too high expectations (you’re buying something that doesn’t exist yet, so there can be no guarantees that it’ll become what you want). Otherwise, stay away from pre-orders of any kind and wait for reviews!

            That’s my opinion.

          • trooperwally says:

            I didn’t say “I’m sure backers will understand”. Nor did I say the doc should say “this game will have feature X”. That’s not what a design doc is and Artist said as much in his first post. A design doc is not the same as a features list on a completed product that you’re about to buy. It is, however, a hell of a lot better than not having a design document. To avoid any confusion about what features will or will not be in the game the design document would just need an explanation: “Features listed in the design document may not be present in the final game”. That’s already the core of kickstarter anyway so stating it clearly can only help.

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            @trooperwally: Your premise hinges on the assumption that backers would understand and accept the difference between intended design and final feature list, which is not a given.

            >That’s not what a design doc is

            Other than “not set in stone” that is exactly what a design doc is. You are describing the game as completely as possible with the information you have right now. As far as backers are concerned a design doc may as well be a feature list.

            The choice between vague description that could be anything and complete documentation is a false dichotomy. You don’t need a public design doc to make a solid pitch with clear direction.

    • KDR_11k says:

      No plan survives contact with the enemy and no game design plan survives contact with the player. Especially when the game is not some tightly-scripted singleplayer thing but a large multiplayer field, then you’ll get imbalances and design problems arising just from the way players abuse your game. In an SP game you can dismiss abusers as amusing edge cases but in a competitive game that becomes the mainstream gameplay and sooner or later you find yourself having to change the unit roster or map design philosophy or whatnot to accommodate how the game REALLY plays.

  14. Seafort says:

    I feel this game has been crossing the line from the start. Charging £80 for an alpha on steam is ridiculous and should never be allowed. All because they didn’t want to piss off their kickstarter backers who donated money to fund their game.

    In concept Early Access is a great thing but most developers are taking advantage of it and will in the end destroy it along with the trust and respect gamers had for them.

    • SquareWheel says:

      “Charging £80 for an alpha on steam is ridiculous and should never be allowed.”

      Why? Fund the game, get only dedicated beta testers, be able to focus feedback. It’s not for everyone but there’s nothing wrong with having a premium beta. If you’re not interested then don’t buy into it, simple as that.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Uber had to charge $100, how else can you confer the feeling of velvet rope exclusivity without exorbitant pricing? These guys drink Grey Goose, not your pleb Smirnoff bullshit. Imagine playing a game with the “working” class, disgusting, the stench of benefits would be unbearable.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      The early acces program of PA was simply another way for people who were to late/unable to donate via kickstarter (not having a credit card, for example) still get a chance to donate for the development of the game.

      Regardless, if you feel that a price is too high – don’t buy it! Wait untill the price drops for the beta (which was clear that that would happen beforehand), Don’t buy untill retail, or don’t buy it all. It’s not like owning PA is mandatory.
      Besides, there’s plenty of games out there that cost a lot more, such as Rise of Flight.

    • Bull0 says:

      Charging a lot has nothing to do with it, the developers that will eventually burst the early access bubble are the half-arsed types that start a survival sandbox game, stick it on early access, and casually stop updating it once the money dries up. Slag Uber off for charging more for a game than you’re willing to pay, fine, don’t really see how that’s their problem but fine – all the same you’ve got to acknowledge they’ve made a nice game more-or-less on their original timetable. Of all the early access/kickstarter teams they’re one of the better examples, honestly.

  15. 2helix4u says:

    I really don’t see why this is the line in the sand we are drawing.
    Early access as a concept has muddied the waters fine, but do shops even sell PC games anymore? What brick and mortar shops do with PC games has long ceased to be relevant.

  16. kwyjibo says:

    we’ve been trying really hard to innovate on business models

    That’s the most exciting form of innovation! I can’t wait to see what Uber come up with next! Good Job!

  17. FaultlessDark says:

    So Nordic said “Hey, we want more money, you guys want more money, why don’t we just push this out like a full release in stores with a disclaimer on it and get some more money?”

    So Uber Said “Why not?”

    This will set a dangerous precedent for PC Gaming – it won’t be long before EA rebrands to ‘Early Arts’, charges you for an Alpha (which will have all of the microtransactions working 100% on day one, funnily enough) and then uses the excuse of “Well, we never guaranteed you it was going to end up a fully-functional title in the huge disclaimer we printed on the box” in response to the usual complaints about their games that get thrown at them and p*ss off with our money among promises of fixes and updates “when they’re ready”.

    Early Access on digital distribution platforms where seemingly only 50% of users know what they’re getting in to is one thing, but Early Access retail boxes in Game stores where 99% of it’s customers don’t even understand that Game is the worst place to buy computer games from is just plain evil.

    • Artist says:

      “EA rebrands to ‘Early Arts’” – haha, epic! Had the same idea, too!

  18. kwyjibo says:

    This game should just be reviewed as a finished product. They’re selling it full price digital and retail, people should be able to read reviews to find out whether it’s worth their time, and not just place blind faith on the developer’s promises.

    • plsdeleteme says:

      First of all, what would that change? As long as a broken mess like Battlefield 4 can get solid 9/10 reviews across the board those reviews are pretty much worthless anyway.

      Also why is it worth to be reviewed as a “finished product” just because it is sold at retail? Why should someone get away with it just because the product is solid digital only? That doesn’t make any sense outside of “I am upset and I want something to be done now”.

      PS: You can already find plenty of first look kind of reviews around the web. If someone wants that information: it’s out there. There is no benefit coming from a “real” review at this point.

      • kwyjibo says:

        Well, if it’s going to get 9/10s all around, why fanny about with ‘Early Access’ at all?

  19. P-Dizzle says:

    Wasn’t this the game that they were trying to sell on Steam for $90 for a while, because that’s what the Kickstarter backers paid and they didn’t want to upset them?
    From what I’ve heard the game isn’t even very good!

    • HadToLogin says:

      It was actually a nice gesture. But they also lied, because they sold it in Russia in same time for around $40.

      • subedii says:

        Reading around, the price in Russia was actually around $80 (2499 pуб, approx $78. Or maybe it was rectified to that after a mistake, I’m not sure). IIRC the differences after that were to do with Steam handling VAT / Tax (higher taxes in Europe, lower in Russia).

        As far as I’m aware everyone going to the main Uber store could buy the game with Alpha Access for the literal $90 regardless of region. Perhaps I’m mistaken. If they were charging different prices on their store for different regions as well, then that’s dumb. Although in general, game on its own with no Alpha Access was always available from their site at standard retail price if I’m not mistaken.

        That said it’s hard for me to check up on since they left Alpha a long time ago, and the $90 price point with it.

        Everything else considered however, I don’t think this was a smart move.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Yes, and that was indeed a nice gesture from them. The whole whining about the price was completely ridiculous: if you find it too expensive, don’t buy it. Elite Dangerous’s beta tier is $150. That’s too expensive for me, so I’m not buying it. Simple!

      As for the game not being good, I’d recommend ditching whatever sources told you that.

    • KevinLew says:

      Here’s my problem with the boxed game. It has nothing to do with the labeling or the price tag… It has more to do with how Planetary Annihilation seems to be insulting the entire point of Kickstarter. In the original Kickstarter days, people would put a proposal up, people would fund it, and backers would get their prizes and eventually the completed product. Sometimes the product would be sold in regular retail but only after the KS completed.

      Here’s the model that Uber is setting: First you run a Kickstarter and get funded. Once that money runs out, you then go to Steam Early Access and ask for more money. Then when that well runs dry, you make physical boxes and ask for more money. My argument is: At what point does selling a beta version of your game become exploitative?

      • subedii says:

        In the original Kickstarter days, people would put a proposal up, people would fund it, and backers would get their prizes and eventually the completed product. Sometimes the product would be sold in regular retail but only after the KS completed.

        Here’s the model that Uber is setting: First you run a Kickstarter and get funded. Once that money runs out, you then go to Steam Early Access and ask for more money. Then when that well runs dry, you make physical boxes and ask for more money.

        Um, isn’t that very literally what the very first notable Kickstarter (Broken Age) did, and is in fact, doing right now? Possibly apart from the physical copy, but honestly I expect them to do so as well.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        My answer is: never, as long as you intend to deliver what you promised and have taken all necessary steps to do so.

  20. Phier says:

    I’d love to get upset about this, being I’m annoyed with steam going so heavy into early access games, but there is at least some honesty here with PA being in a box clearly saying its not finished.

    This is compared to say Rome II or X-Rebirth. I’m not sure if you can call Rebirth an AAA title but Rome II you can and both of those games were in worse shape than PA is right now, required a HUGE amount of patching to even play, and still are not really “fixed”.

    • leandrombraz says:

      So it’s okay to release an incomplete game if you are being honest about it? So if Creative Assembly release Rome III in a bad shape but be honest about it, it will be okay? It will sell, Early Access is making it clear that people will buy this kind of BS. Now imagine all this big publishers deciding that they will do the same, after all, they can sell an unfinished product and get no criticism because they are being honest about it. How many actual good, finished games we will get if this model become a widespread thing?

      IMO there’s nothing that justify people buying into early access and I fear for the consequences. Someone must regulate this practice, define some rules to protect the consumer, otherwise we are f*cked.

      • Bull0 says:

        No, not at all, that’s not what he said at all.

        When you sell a piece of shit (such as Rome 2) and call it finished, that’s dishonest. When you release something in early access, and pledge to finish it, and intend to finish it, (such as PA) that’s totally different. If you can’t see that you’re just being deliberately obtuse

        • leandrombraz says:

          In both cases you are getting a bugged, unfinished product, the only difference is that you are providing the early access developers with an excuse to sell you a unfinished game, effectively avoiding criticism. All you get from this is a warm feeling that the developers are being honest. It’s like saying that a thief who tells you that he is stealing your stuff is better than a thief who take it behind your back. In both cases you’re losing your stuff, you are the one being harmed and they are profiting in an abusive, unfair way.

          • subedii says:

            Early Access is by definition, not completed and in-progress.

            They can’t steal from you if you’re giving your money willingly whilst knowing this beforehand. And if you don’t want to buy an incomplete product, then don’t.

            That’s not a flippant answer, quite literally do not buy this game until it is complete.

            As for avoiding criticism, ha-ha. Good one. If you read the Steam forums, or the official forums, or even the Twitch stream chats, you’ll find no end of criticism, issues, complaints and recommendations. But that in itself is all part of the process. The game’s already seen some pretty major changes as a result of player feedback.

            The game won’t receive mainstream criticism in the sense that games websites likely won’t comment on the game’s mechanics / bugs / visuals / etc. Until it’s launched. Which however also means that they won’t be issuing any reviews, won’t be recommending it, and mainstream coverage of the game itself will remain effectively null (barring pieces on surrounding issues, like this one) as well. Which is NOT something any dev wants to maintain.

          • leandrombraz says:

            This is a really innocent way to see things. They are using peoples anxiety to play in order to sell. Even warning that it’s a incomplete game, people will read a nice descryption, see that it’s already available and buy it, without necessarily willingly to pay for a promise, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. This people have no guarantee that the game will be finished or even get a single upgrade. You are buying a promise, a sample of something that might be and paying full price for it.

            But, hey, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, right? No. If it sell, more and more developers will follow this model, we will have more and more incomplete games with no guarantee that it will ever be finished. This is bad for everyone, it affect everyone that like games. When the sh*t hit the fan, it won’t hit only who bought it, it will hit everyone.

            By avoiding criticism, I don’t mean that people won’t make criticism, I mean that they have an official excuse for any criticism they receive. I could write pages and pages of criticism, an early access developer can just throw at my face that the game is alpha and take no responsability for the lack of quality of the product. Put on top of that the fact that they have no obligation to release updates, no obligation to give a release date or even release the game at all and the fact that the consumer can’t ask for refund, you have a perfect scenario for a scheme. What exactly prevents someone to release an incomplete, low quality game, profit over it while promising that it will be something good eventually, then just say that they won’t release or release in a poor state? Nothing.

            Granted, there’s exceptions and I’m sure there’s good early access developers making good games, that will be actually release, but eill they be the rule or the exception? What about the AAA industry, the sale numbers of early access won’t go unnoticed. How will they use this model? There’s so many ways this can go wrong..

            About coverage, Early access already proved that they don’t need mainstream coverage to sell. All it takes is one youtuber doing gameplay, a nice descryption full of cool promises, then it get to steam’s top sellers, then it sell even more.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Something we’re forgetting here is this is a game genre which nobody wants to make anymore because it doesn’t sell. Uber is proposing to people to participate in the funding before its finished so their dream game can be made, and so far, they’re delivering.

        Seems to me like a very different situation than a company which takes an already successful franchise and voluntarily sells the incomplete game, maybe even claiming it’s complete.

        This said, I do think that this box needs a warning similar to the one on the Steam store, clearly stating it’s incomplete. In the end though, Uber can sell whatever they want in whatever state they want. It’s the buyer’s responsibility to inform himself, and as long as there’s no blatant false advertising on Uber’s part, the buyer only has himself to blame if he doesn’t like his purchase.

        • Emeraude says:

          Something we’re forgetting here is this is a game genre which nobody wants to make anymore because it doesn’t sell.

          I think there’s hardly any relationship between the first and the second proposition – at least not as stated.

          The very fact that Uber can afford to take that risk if anything hints at the contrary: those games sell. Even in an unfinished state. That’s how starved for them the market is right now.

          That issue is that, they don’t sell enough to make it worthwhile to companies that seemingly have forgotten that an healthy entertainment ecosystem needs those middle-to-low selling products that keeps the buyers invested in the the medium so that they become/remain regular customers instead of exceptional ones. Or are just hoping that someone else will take care of making those so that keep banking on the big cash. In any way, big publishers right now are into a self destructive hyper-focused on inflated return on investments course of their own making, while blaming everyone else.

          Another issue is that genre may have stopped being produced at a time of market saturation, when it was realistically difficult to sell them. And then “those don’t sell” became an empty mantra instead of a relatively wise temporary policy.

  21. Napoleon15 says:

    I don’t think I can post links to other sites without getting my comment obliterated by some anti-spam bot, but the price logo is obviously a GAME store one, and the exact same product is listed for sale on their website (Search for the Early Access edition). Interestingly enough, there’s actually no mention what so ever of the game not actually being finished, beyond “early access edition.”

    Not only is that pretty questionable, I’d have thought they’d be potentially opening themselves up to legal problems by not clearly stating that the game is not finished and still in development.

    Edit: Okay, so it says free upgrade to full game, but that’s it. Maybe there’s some proper disclaimer on the back of the box, but on the online store, you can’t see the back and it’s not mentioned in the product blurb. Kind of shady, in my opinion.

    • Crossbit says:

      Yes, I noticed that the wording on their web-sold version made it sound more like a more ‘traditional’ early access perk for an MMO or whatnot, with the ‘start building your colony before everyone else!’ part especially.

      Indeed, even if you scroll down to the lengthier description, there is no mention what so ever about the game currently being in a Beta state.. which is just a little bit dodgy. Early Access has been ‘a thing’ for a while now, but there will still be people out there who haven’t been exposed to it, so Game/Uber are definitely sticking their foot in it there. If their website, in it’s boundless space for text, skimps on the details, I can’t imagine the blurb of the box being any clearer.

      I’m almost tempted to pop into my local branch to find out.

      • Napoleon15 says:

        I had a look on my way home today. They had boxed copies in GAME. Interestingly enough, there’s absolutely nothing on the back of the box about early access, when any finished game might be out etc. The most informative information is on the front. The only clue that you’re not getting a finished product is the early access title and the text saying free upgrade to full version.

        Not smart.

  22. leandrombraz says:

    Hey, here is a sample of what our product might be and a promise that we will finish it, with no guarantee and no release date. Pay full price for it now, give us free beta testing and hope that someday it will be a finished product!

    Honestly, I don’t get how gamers complain so much about bugged and incomplete AAA games but they are eager to buy a paid alpha with no guarantee that it will ever become a full game. That’s why there’s so many bad practices in this industry that hurt the consumer. We not only accept it, we embrace it and fool ourselves into believing that it’s a good thing..

  23. Mete says:

    Kickstarter is getting ridiculous, every game now has a lot of versions going from 5$ who gives ou a Wallpaper (wtf?) to 10.000$ where you can party with the creators of a spiritual successor who will get delayed for 1 year at least. The hell, those ar enot indiegamers, they are playing with people faith.

  24. Wauffles says:

    This might be a bit of an incidental point to the discussion at hand, but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re happy to take my money in exchange for a product then I’m going to judge it in the state that I’m playing it in. I’m a little bit sick of any negative opinion I might have on a game that’s being sold being handwaved away with “Oh, but it’s only EARLY ACCESS! It’s pretty much a BETA! It’s going to change stuff by the time it’s actually ‘released’ (whatever that means now)!”

    If you only want people who are really interested in providing their feedback and willing to reserve judgement until the creators put their final 1.0 stamp on something then why not only make it purchasable directly from the dev/publisher? Maybe ask people to email you and ask for a copy? It’s a little bit more understandable if the game is offered at a drastically reduced price, but if I’m plunking down my thirty quid for something in a shop or on Steam then I don’t see what makes that any different from the copy of the latest Battlefield sitting next to it.

    Think it’s unfair that I give my opinion on something that you’ve sold to me because it isn’t finished yet? Don’t sell it to me, then!

    • Sleepy Will says:

      Agreed, and we all know enough to take your criticism in the context of early access, and games don’t usually change that much anyway!

      • HadToLogin says:

        Well, if somebody wants $100 from me, I would love someone’s opinion if it’s worth $100, or should I wait half a year, when price drops to $50 and it might actually get patched enough that you can start playing it.

  25. sabasNL says:

    “When asked why they’d chosen to release an unfinished game at retail by Game Informer, Uber rather unabashedly replied:
    “The real question is, why not? After all, they are getting the same game, just earlier. It’s a changing world and we hope to continue trying out new and innovative ways to make games.””

    > Sony and Microsoft stare each other in the eyes.
    > Electronic Arts laughs like a maniac.
    > Activision screams in agreement.
    > Valve is starting to doubt her decisions.

    • Distec says:

      Indeed. This can only encourage even worse behavior from large gaming companies. Previously they would release a buggy/incomplete game and at least have to to bullshit their way out of it, because everybody knows that’s a wrong thing to do. People have the ability to criticize the product they purchased under false promises. If they start taking their cues from this incident, they won’t even have to bother with such pretexts.

      “So our game you spent $60 on is shit? Well, we TOLD you it wasn’t finished! At least we were HONEST about it! No foul here. Everything’s right as rain. When will it get fixed? Well, we don’t have any strict timelines on that…”

      Of course, some culpability needs to be assigned to gamers’ spending habits.

      • sabasNL says:

        Yeah exactly, even the big guys are now making early access stuff. Just because it’s more profitable. Early access started as the indie developer’s savior, but it’s becoming a huge problem.

        Planetary Annihilation didn’t need to be sold before it’s release at the UberStore, Steam, and now even in the regular retail channels. It’s one of the biggest successes on Kickstarter, they have all the money they need.

        Another case would be Space Engineers. Although it didn’t bring in as many millions yet, it’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest, successes on Steam Early Access. Those developers didn’t need the money either; they already got it from Miner Wars. A game which was, with all due respect, a cashcow. People would pre-ordered the MMO sequel of the game (announced together with the original game, both were way too ambitious anyways) simply got ripped off.

        IThis all happened because Minecraft has shown the entire industry how profitable an early-access game can be. Low-budget, early-access, community-driven, independent. And still the fastest selling game in the history of the industry. If you take out the franchises (Mario, Tetris), it’s the best-selling game ever.
        Although it was never Mojang’s intention – they ofcourse could never see this coming – this has created the sick idea that early access is how it should be done. It surely has it’s positive sides; but a lot of studios are starting to use it wrong, starting to abuse it.

        And this all comes down to the evolution in gaming so many people applaud: The rise of the indie developers. Now there are many studios or sole developers out there who are making great games, and finally get the chance to sell it. But what is an indie developer nowadays? Some of the developers have grown so big they have become their own publishers, some ask for early-access money while they have millions in the bank already. The cycle just repeats itself, old publishers die, new publishers are born.

        I know it is a very weak arguement, but the publishers who on one hand started to sicken part of the industries, were the industry’s gatekeepers for years. Gatekeepers who let through failures- Big failures, even – but they did prevent the worst from reaching the consumer. They let through milkcows, yes, but not the outright scam products. I can give you an entire list of “indie developers” who outright scammed their customers, through Steam Early Access for example, but you can Google it yourself.

        When EA released their biggest failures (aka SimCity), they got punished for it. Heavily. Consumers do have power. EA saw it’s investments decreasing, EA got a bad reputation, EA had to take legal defense. Am I saying EA is a victim? No, they brought it on themselves. But atleast they can be forced to change; forced to treat the consumers right. And while everyone can look right through their PR crap, they actually are spending resources on improving. And hell, they should! But there’s no way you can do that with independent developers, especially not with this Early Access system. They have no responsibility, they can’t be blamed for anything, they don’t have to listen to you at all.

        TL;DR : I for one am not happy with Early Access, as it’s being abused a lot.

  26. Bobka says:

    Is there a list somewhere of all Early Access games, their initial launch date, update frequency, and final release date if applicable?

    It would be nice to have non-anecdotal data on the phenomenon.

    • plsdeleteme says:

      Pretty much impossible as Early Access hasn’t been around for long. Maybe in two to three years but as most games (even small ones) can take years to develop this isn’t feasible at this point.

  27. Tei says:

    This is a unfinished comment and think theres nothing wr

  28. plsdeleteme says:

    I am still amazed why every website links to the reddit thread when this official announcement has been made by Uber about 10 days ago and can be found on the official website (but nobody seemed to care at that point)

    • MkMax says:

      Most of the ppl that visit that site are the fools that already invested in the game, saying this is BS would be like saying they made a mistake, and they “do not make mistakes”, aka Confirmation Bias.

      Its no surprise the “controversy” didn’t come from there.

  29. Ajmist says:

    Game Development v1
    Spend most of the cash on developing the game if it’s finished and good it sells well. Downsides a bad game or unfinished game will lose you money.

    Game Development v2
    Spend most of the cash on advertising the game and sell via pre order if it’s finished it sells well. Downsides a cancelled game will lose you money.

    Game Development v3
    Start developing a game and sell via early access. Even if it’s crap, buggy, or abandoned unfinished you don’t lose any money. Inspired by the banking sector this model keeps all future profits with the company while passing the financial risks of failure onto the public.

    It’s sad that given a choice between v1 and v3 many consumers choose v3 despite having steam account full of good, complete, and in many case’s unplayed games.

    • MkMax says:

      This, a thousand times this

      I’d like to add that they unnecessarily bloated the risk on their own, they intentionally inflated the cost of developing games to drive out competition and trapped themselves into a vicious circle

      Sadly, when you consider that the gamer culture dictates you must get “the best, the fastest, the newest” out of everything and the fact that the average gamer these days has a job and money to burn stupidly in things they dont have time to use (hey i include myself here, i just paid a ridiculous price for a 780ti and barely played anything other than XCOM-EW Long War with it), you start understanding why early access and paid betas are so popular

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      So Steam is full of recently released, innovative RTS? Of recently released, good space exploration games in the tradition of Elite?

      Or maybe there’s a reason why Kickstarter is so popular?

  30. Lionmaruu says:

    Welllllllllllllll…. the way I see it it is kinda like pre-ordering a game… except you can actually play some early version of the full game while you wait…

    of course kickstarter, early access and pre-order are things I don’t do… So whatever… If you buy it and get boned you should have known better… Everyone should have their own personal responsibility on what they do with their money.

  31. InternetBatman says:

    I think the larger issue is making sure that early access games advertise the features they currently have separately and more prominently displayed than features they promise. I think this is something the consumer can decide for themselves if they are given adequate information.

  32. MechanicalPen says:

    Didn’t Spore do something similar? I have a boxed copy of Spore Creature Creator around here somewhere.

  33. n0m0n says:

    I vote with my money – I never buy a game before or even on release day. I always wait until I feel confident I will be able to play a stable version of the game all the way through. It the game’s publisher/developer hints there will be dlc, I normally wait for the “Game of the Year”/complete edition, even if that means waiting until 6-12 months after original release date.

    The reason I say that I “normally wait” is the games from companies like Blizzard and Firaxis, which typically stick with the “old school” idea of fully featured expansion packs, rather than just a couple of new maps, guns and/or units. Diablo III, Civilization V and the likes I bought fairly soon after release, even though I knew DLC was inbound – because I knew I’d be able to enjoy the games for months or even years before getting the DLC which would then revitalize one of my favorite games. I only get DLC for games that I’ve already played and enjoyed for some 100+ hours and only when I get to the point where I feel the core game is starting to get too repetitive. This way I maximize the life length of said game until the point where there is a new game in the genre around to dethrone my old favorite.

    I feel this is a very sound way of consuming games and DLC, that saves me money while helping me get the most enjoyment out of my games. So far only Blizzard seems to really promote this way of consuming games, in that they seem to stick with the price they set on a their games rather than punish early adopters twice. The way I see it, early adopters are already punished by playing less polished games. I don’t understand why people feel that it is worth paying the often premium rates as well – just for playing a game on the day of release (or in the case of early access – even before the actual “release”). In general you just pay more for an inferior product.

    So yes, if you don’t like how the industry handles new releases – opt out of the scheme! Don’t buy unfinished games – support the kickstarters you like – but ignore alphas/betas etc. unless you want to volunteer yourself as a tester (that means seeking out bugs, trying to repeat them, trying to find what triggers them, then send reports including engine logs etc. – or in the case of strategical game, trying to find imbalances/exploits etc. then report those to the developers). Myself, I feel like my time for playing video games is much too limited to be spending in such ways – I rather spend those few hours a week enjoying a finished and stable product.

  34. joshmouch says:

    This is false advertising, plain and simple. It says “includes free upgrade to full game,” which does not exist and may never exist.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I’m generally in favour of the concept of early access as, like crowdfunding, it helps games get made that otherwise might not exist at all, but I’m not sure about this move as it doesn’t seem like people browsing shops would understand what “early access” means. They’ve already got KS funds + more coming in from digital early access so unless they’re broke a bit of extra cash does not seem worth the risk of mismatched expectations and the lack of clear disclaimers on the box does not help.

    • P.Funk says:

      Yea, why make a game and try to get more people to buy it? Whats the point?

      Oh right, the money.

      • Distec says:

        cant we juz make gaems from our <3's

        ea pls

        • P.Funk says:

          Rarely will you meet a starving artist who wouldn’t happily take payment for his work.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      Ugh, seriously? I did not say “why would they want more money?” I said, the risk (of disappointed players) might not outweigh the benefit.

  36. MkMax says:

    The inevitable consequence of accepting early access, its now ok to sell an unplayable unfinished mess at retail

    The retail release was one of the big incentives for “getting out” early access, like being able to do microtransactions or selling DLC, why would you ever declare your game done now ? its the fit all/fix all answer “we are still in early access”

    They added micro-transaction stores in early access games and ppl kept buying, they started selling DLC for early access games and ppl kept buying, AAA early access is already upon us, it wont be long until we have to welcome the idea that early access IS the game and will never leave that state

    • Premium User Badge

      Rikard Peterson says:

      Hopefully, there’ll be enough of us left not buying the games until after they’re made to prevent that from becoming the norm.

    • Baines says:

      Publishers had already been looking for that, even before “Early Access.”

      Remember when suits were pushing the idea of subscription-based gaming? That was their solution for continuous income as well as piracy. (Yes, consumers rejected it. But I think publishers really dropped it for reasons like realizing that their most subscription-suited franchises might be more profitable with yearly releases and DLC.)

      And we already have games that appear to be eternally “Early Access”, because developers as you say have already realized that they have no real incentive anymore to reach “full release”, at least not until they are already losing interest in supporting it.

  37. Megakoresh says:

    When i buy a game on disk I buy it because I can go to a trip for a week or so and play a finished game on a laptop. I do not buy a game on disk if I have to download updates for it as it gets completed. What the fuck is the point of having a disk then?!

    • Emeraude says:

      Sadly we’ve lost that for a good, major part as Steam and it’s copycats became the norm.

    • MkMax says:

      hahaha, i read a very pissed off “Mac Casual” in a blog post the other day

      he was so mad that gamestop sold him a digital download of a win/mac game and he couldnt download it because gamestop’s digital service is win only and then he complained he couldnt give the game to a friend because he had already associated it to his account and the key said it was “used” even tho he never installed it

      we lost so many battles already, so many