Finding of the week #25

Early access

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I’ll present the concept of selling an early access to alpha version of video games that are currently under development. This concept allows indie game developers to finance their development process and gather useful feedback for their future developments.

Independent video games (indie games) are becoming more and more a well known and successful part in the whole area of video games. Indie games are created by only a few developers that aren’t supported by computer game publishers. Indie games are distributed over the internet and often focus on innovation.

Although indie game developers are very flexible, they do have a major issue: they lack of the financial support from publishers. Releasing the game when it’s finished doesn’t work all the time. To compensate the lack of a publisher, indie game developers came up with an interesting idea. They’re selling access to alpha versions of their games[1].

Computer game players who are interested in the concept of the game or who believe in the developers can buy an access to the game and experience it right away. For that pupose, indie game developers do have different options they can choose from to sell the early access versions of their product.
On the one hand, they can ramp up the price over time. The very first version of the game can be very cheap. After a bunch of new developments, the developers begin to increase the price. This reflects a bit the completeness of the game. The first playable version might have only a few features whereas a later version might be almost a fully functional game.
On the other hand, developers can sell different early access packets[2]. The cheapest packet only grants access to the game. The next package also includes some special benefits. Users now can choose between the packages and decide how much they’re likely to pay for that particular game.

The early access concept is a great deal for both, delevopers and gamers. Developers can already make revenue during the delevopement of their game. Additionally, they get a lot of feedback from their players. This, in return, allows the developers to increase the quality and functionality of their game.
The players on the other side get access to the game and can play it right away without a long waiting period until the game is finally released. Additionally, they’ll recieve all upcoming updates (and the release version of the game) for free. They’ve bought the game already during the development of it and are thus supporting the developers.

From the point of view of a gamer, this concept also increases the playtime of the game. Every new version of the game can be different and behave almost like a completely new game. Additionally, they aren’t overwhelmed by the complexity of the game. A release version of a game can offer a lot of different options to play it and players need to decide what they like to do at first. Playing a game over the time of its developement allows players to experience new functions as they’re implemented.