The lights are on
At the beginning of 2014, we posited that Early Access (the fancy term for paid alpha testing) would be a hot button topic this year. So far, we’ve seen “founder’s packs” upwards of $450, EA has told us that it’s considering a pre-complete sales model, and now another company is mulling over the practice.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Sony vice president of publisher and Adam Boyes spoke about the internal discussions around offering games for sale before they are finished. There are a number of considerations to iron out before Sony would move forward, though.
“Honestly, we're working through that right now. We're figuring out what's okay,” Boyes says. “We obviously have our tech requirement checklist that people have to adhere to. So we're internally discussing, what does that list look like for this? What are the caveats? Stuff like this.”
Boyes mentions that clear communication to the consumer is something Sony is concerned with. The company doesn’t want people to purchase a pre-release game with off-kilter expectations.
It is far too soon to predict if Early Access will happen on PlayStation consoles, but according to Boyes, many people are involved in the discussions. “It's still a project that a lot of minds are considering,” he says. “No details yet, but it's something on the top of my mind every day.”
For more, you can check out a video interview with Boyes from Gamescom 2013.
Our TakeEarly Access as a concept is taking root, and it won’t be going away. The problem with it is clear disclosure, so a consumer knows that the game might never be finished and is provided as-is. On Steam, that’s an easy distinction and the user base is skewed toward more involved consumers.
Consoles are more casual, and Sony will need to account for younger or less-engaged customers. Finding a way to group those Early Access games so there is no confusion will be a challenging task from a user experience perspective.