Early Access On Consoles: Understand The Risks, Enjoy The Rewards
PC gaming is often celebrated for numerous reasons. Often at the forefront of video game advancement, PC gaming has often shaped the path most console trends take. For the most part, the trends from the PC side has helped improved the industry as a whole, but the most recent trend is steep in controversy.
Early Access is seemingly becoming common place for both indie games and big budget releases. A curious mix of Beta testing and demo, Early Access has many sides to it, not all of them positive. For the money the customer invests into the game, what they receive in return isn’t exactly known. The level of risk involved with purchasing a Early Access title is great, you’re essentially buying a work in progress, that could drastically change at any point.
The positive side to Early Access comes in two forms. Purchasing a Early Access title is directly supporting the game, allowing for it to improve and grow. Responsible developers will engage with their Early Access customers and use feedback and input to enhance the game in question. The customer is, of course, getting their hands on the game sooner rather than later. The PC platform allows Early Access games to receive updates generally quickly, without much hassle in terms of red tape.
Consoles are now following in the path of the PC by introducing Early Access, which feels like a bad idea. The market, culture and general attitude of PC circles is radically different to that of the console. There’s more of a acceptance for change, more ability to be more open minded in terms of new services and concepts. Console markets are known for being set in their ways, especially when it comes to how they purchase their games.
It feels like a problem waiting to happen when Early Access hits consoles. The staggered manner in which consoles titles are updated presents the biggest potential issue. Early Access games live or die on how often they are updated, if the updates come slow and staggered, it’s hard to see the service ever becoming viable, at least on consoles. Questions over how much said games would cost is another curious issue. There’s also the practical problems to do with the limited hardrive sizes more consoles shipped with.
Looking for positives is not hard, as Early Access still supplies plenty of benefits. As previously mentioned, having the ability to back a game and play it straight away, even if it’s in a early state, is still a appealing concept. Microsoft are planning to put their own games on Early Access, hopefully resulting in less technical train wrecks (Master Chief Collection style) from appearing in final version releases.
The key to making Early Access on consoles relies on various things, the first being penitence. The console market needs to understand what Early Access is, they need to understand the games will be buggy and incomplete. The platform is there, the market is there, for Early Access to be successful on consoles, as long as the risks are understood.