The lights are on
Early access is moving beyond the world of digital download and Steam, and into the world of retail.
This post on reddit, highlighting the image below, has been gaining popularity this morning. It showcases the successfully Kickstarted title Planetary Annihilation being sold as an early access title in a box at retail. The game entered alpha and moved onto beta last year, and is currently in a gamma stage with a planned full release for later this year.
We reached out to developer Uber to ask about selling an early access game at retail. Jon Mavor, one of the directors for the game wrote in an e-mail to Game Informer, "At Uber we've been trying really hard to innovate on business models during the entire development of [Planetary Annihilation]." Mavor continued by writing, "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."
When asked why release an unfinished game at retail Mavor 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."
Planetary Annihilation was successfully funded in September 2012. Uber requested $900,000 to create Planetary Annihilation, but earned $2,229,344 more than doubling their initial funding goal. It's a real-time strategy title with much of the same DNA and development team as the Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander games. You can check out a trailer for the game below. For more on the game check out the official website.
Our TakeIt's certainly surprising and questionable to see an early access title available at retail, but I admire Uber's willingness to try something different. The real question here is, perhaps, not whether Planetary Annihilation should be sold at retail as an early access title, but rather, whether it should still be considered an early access title at all. The game has moved beyond alpha and beta and is in gamma, a stage Uber seemingly invented for the development of Planetary Annihilation. Typically, after the beta, a game is complete and ready to sold as a full product. When is a game truly released? Is it when the full game can be purchased and played in its entirety? Or is it simply when the developer declares the game complete? Like Mavor wrote in his e-mail, "It's a changing world."
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