Take a trip into Early Ac­cess, where baby games go to grow up


BUY­ING AN EARLY AC­CESS GAME on Steam seems like a gam­ble. You want us to pay money for some­thing that’s not fin­ished, and will be full of bugs and empty of con­tent? Yet, when you con­sider the pop­u­lar­ity of Kick­starter, where peo­ple put down money on the ba­sis of an idea alone, Valve’s sys­tem starts to look less prob­lem­atic. You get the game, in what­ever state it’s in, you get the chance to play it early, and feed back in­for­ma­tion about bugs and prob­lems to the de­vel­oper, and you get to keep it when it’s fin­ished.

A lot of these aren’t ex­pen­sive games, and many have sim­ple graph­ics and low sys­tem re­quire­ments, but Early Ac­cess is the home of the sort of ti­tle that might not get made any other way. Thought­ful games, slow games, miles away from the shock and awe of big-bud­get de­vel­op­ment. They’re be­ing shaped by their play­ers as much as their mak­ers, who are more likely to be in­die stu­dios or even bed­room coders than mas­sive game fac­to­ries.

That’s the joy of Early Ac­cess games—the feel­ing that you’re in on some­thing from the start, and that you could help shape the fi­nal prod­uct. It may be buggy or even un­playable at the be­gin­ning, but it gives you a sense of in­vest­ment that you just don’t get from a cor­po­rate cre­ation. Here, then, is a se­lec­tion of what’s out there.

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