SEE­SAW OF RISK

HWM (Malaysia) - - GAX -

At its in­cep­tion, Early Ac­cess car­ried just nine ti­tles. By year’s end, it was home to over 100 new re­leases. In 2014 alone, more than 255 Early Ac­cess games were re­leased. And as of this writ­ing, half of Steam’s big­gest-sell­ing games that sold more than a mil­lion copies per ti­tle are in Early Ac­cess, of which only about 25 per­cent of the ti­tles have been re­leased as full, com­pleted games. But sta­tis­tics alone do not re­veal the whole pic­ture. For in­stance, a game’s la­bel­ing as ‘beta’ or ‘fi­nal re­lease’ does not nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate its qual­ity or suc­cess; con­sider the Minecraft beta (a re­sound­ing suc­cess) or the ‘1.0’ re­lease of StarForge (a colos­sal fail­ure) from Early Ac­cess. Such la­bels are ar­bi­trar­ily given by de­vel­op­ers, some­times even with no rhyme or rea­son, and vice versa. Thus, the suc­cess of Early Ac­cess should not be mea­sured by the ra­tio of re­leases to pre-re­leases; in­stead, the pro­gram’s risks and re­wards war­rant eval­u­a­tion from both the de­vel­oper’s and con­sumer’s per­spec­tives.

An­thony Lam is an avid col­lec­tor and in­vestor of Early Ac­cess ti­tles. An Editor-in-Chief for a re­gional mag­a­zine by day, his gam­ing re­sume dates back to the early 90’s with the NES, SNES, and the fam­ily 486 Win­dows 3.1 PC. He cur­rently owns north of 1,000 ti­tles across Steam, Ori­gin, and Uplay.

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