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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Larian Studios - What’s Wrong with Early Access?

Default Larian Studios - What’s Wrong with Early Access?

January 14th, 2014, 12:00
Larian Studios Swen Vincke has posted a new update on his blog with his opinion on Steam Early Access.

A thread started on our forums that I thought might be of interest because it touches on the topic of Steam Early Access, something I guess pretty much every developer is thinking of nowadays.

A player named Kamatsu argued against Divinity:Original Sin going on Steam Early Access based on the bad treatment Wasteland 2 was getting. The reason for starting the thread was a Eurogamer preview about Divinity:Original Sin in which it slipped that Larian might be planning to release Divinity:Original Sin on Steam Early Access.

I didn’t actually check how Wasteland 2 was doing but from watching a couple of let’s plays and reading some previews, my impression was that it was actually doing well. And its position in the Steam charts indicated to me that they were making quite some revenue too which I assume will in turn allow InXile to make their game even better.

He or she said that basically every new thread in the Wasteland 2 forums for the past weeks has been a complaint about it being a beta, about it being a so expensive for a beta, about people being sure that it’ll never get finished, that it should be free & that Steam Early Access is an invention of the devil. The others in the thread seemed to agree and concluded that Larian was never going to be so crazy as to contemplate Early Access.
He ends with a question I sure many of us ask ourselves.

So I must be overlooking something given the amount of noise the internet is making about Early Access, but I don’t see it. If Kickstarter is ok, why isn’t Early Access ok? I would be grateful if somebody could point that out for me.
More information.

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January 14th, 2014, 12:00
Who said Early Access is not ok?
Kickstarter is not available for companies worldwide, that's the biggest reason not to slap Early Access.

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January 14th, 2014, 12:05
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Who said Early Access is not ok?
Kickstarter is not available for companies worldwide, that's the biggest reason not to slap Early Access.
Apparently according to Swen the whole internet, and most of the replies from the linked thread. I know we have a few on our forums also.

The interesting part of the article is were he gives a few pro and cons. I can't list them all in a news-bit as it would be to long.

I recommend everyone read the links before jumping to conclusions.

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January 14th, 2014, 12:16
Did I mention yet I love Swen's blog posts, and how he gives us insights in his thought process?

MOAR.

Exitus acta probat.
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January 14th, 2014, 13:32
A new trend emerging: developpers argumenting on the behalf of gamers/players.

Blatant in this article.

I argued that it seemed to me that every gamer should be pro the system.
Followed by a line of arguments (not his own but quoted nevertheless in his article) that make sense from a developper's point of view but have little to value for the player's side.

The article cant even be honest enough to state a simple thing like taking a stance for developpers and not gamers.

Maybe because some developpers could argue that they are not that for steam early access.
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Who said Early Access is not ok?
Simple manufacturing of his own opposition to give depth to his point of view.
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January 14th, 2014, 14:35
I found the blog post interesting. It's of course from the viewpoint of the developer, which to me is evident from the context.

pibbur who wonders why the Chien insists on mispelling "developer". And of course why pibbur insists on misspelling a lot of things, Occasionally.

PS. If I may ask, what's behind your nickname? I know "chien" is french for "dog". You don't have to answer, of course. Says pibbur who is interested in names. DS.

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January 14th, 2014, 14:49
Aboyer is to bark.
So barking dog.
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January 14th, 2014, 14:58
Originally Posted by Swen Vincke
If Kickstarter is ok, why isn’t Early Access ok? I would be grateful if somebody could point that out for me.
Oh that's an easy one

1. It's still STEAM.

2. It destroys the firecamp experience of all gamers playing the same game for the first time just after release. Destroys community feeling.

3. It's STEAM, okay?

4. If it is not planned in a chapter wise structure, Early Access diminishes the dramatic effect of a game. Think of watching a shitty CamRip of Avatar first and the HD, 3D movie in the theatre later. Would you enjoy it as much as you'd do if you missed out on the CamRip?

5. Did I mention it's a STEAM program?

blackcanopus:
Steam is out of question. It's not convenient, it's not easy to use, it's not simple and fast. It's terrible.
"Where STEAM fails, the PHOENIX rises"
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January 14th, 2014, 15:03
Ok, I'll bite.

Early Access is NOT ok because:

1) It's so late in the development cycle that the destination of any funds procured is ambiguous at best.
2) High prices create a negative PR backlash among consumers who would have been on the fence (not the rabid playerbase that buys Early Access who would have bought the game regardless).
3) Its just a plain bad precedent; paying extra for a beta, no matter how eager you are, is simply impatient foolishness and can only lead to other, even more questionable tactics from developers.
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January 14th, 2014, 15:16
You can’t have good things without bad things and it seems obvious to me that if you want to have safe sex, you should wear a condom. If you don’t want any bad surprises when buying a game, wait until it’s released
Great comparison..my love for Larian will never diminish

And for heavens sake, I know some people have strong opinions of steam but stop hijacking threads just for the sake of starting arguments.

Speak your own words of wisdom instead of quoting someone else's.
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January 14th, 2014, 15:17
Originally Posted by Drithius View Post
1) It's so late in the development cycle that the destination of any funds procured is ambiguous at best.
Would you mind elaborating?

I haven't given the whole thing too much thought as it doesn't really interest me but in the case of midsize/AA InExile/Larian studios I can only see the extra revenue going into the sort of polish and balancing that their games usually need to get a vital .5 in the ratings that will largely affect their sales.

I'd just like to interject here and point out that I'm not going to say anything to spoil the mood, Chief. I'll just float here and watch. Don't mind me, just sitting here, floating and watching, that's me.
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January 14th, 2014, 16:22
It's another one of those "things" that self-righteous internet warriors with too much free time and not enough real problems (see Sir Brennus above) like to get all huffed and puffed about. That's all it is. Honestly, I don't think there are -any- negative repercussions to releasing on early access. Half the damn complainers probably own at least several early access games, and, if the game is good, people will buy the game after release regardless.

It's just a bunch of trumped up nonsense so that people can feel like they're fighting the "man." Again, like Sir Brennus and his idiotic Steam crusade.
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January 14th, 2014, 16:23
I suspect that a negative experience with early access could badly damage a product's reputation, which may result is reduced profits over the course of the release. It must seem tempting to reap those early funds, but it is still a risk. It's probably more of a risk for the well-established companies than for the independents, because polished products are expected from the former. If a company is going to go this route then they better have an existing following who are willing to tolerate the flaws.

No I don't own any early access releases because I prefer a polished product.
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January 14th, 2014, 16:27
Early access is optional. If that kind of gameplay would spoil a game for you then quite simply don't buy it during early access.

The biggest/silliest thing here is that anybody is taking Steam complainers seriously. Steam itself is awesome. When you have 65m registered users you're going to have a portion of them that are useless trolls, who want everything for free, who complain with no clue, etc.

That said, I've made comments about Wasteland II on steam forums because to me the pricing for it is idiotic. It's an indie game that has been community funded. $60 for early access is criminal no matter what BS they spew to justify it. There are LOTS of early access/alpha/kickstarted games selling thru steam and they don't usually pull stunts like this - but then, MOST of those developers are truly indie devs and not former corporate devs doing community funding for their pet projects and still behaving like corporate slime, as with the WL2 and/or SRR devs.

Ultimately, my decision regarding WL2 is easy - I'm holding off til release and what I will STILL consider to be a high price (25-30) for an indie game that's rehashing and old series and that's been excessively community funded.

The most screwy things to me with kickstarter games like WL2 is how the game has been community funded and yet when it releases the game will have a higher pricing point than many other indie games.

I pay for my games and never mind paying for a good game but it does seem like some devs are taking advantage of this system as more than just a way to fund ideas for games that can't get corporate backing.
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January 14th, 2014, 16:40
Guys before you continue just one question.

Is early access (and kickstarter) "price" more expensive and undeserving compared to FREE(to play) MMOs you play?

Drithius, assuming putting any price on Early Access is not ok (and I say it is), then is it ok to advertise something as free then robbing players blind with microtransactions and saying it's the cash needed to develop DLC, more content and whatnot? What's the difference? Any smell of a fraud somewhere in there, but where exactly?

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January 14th, 2014, 16:47
When it comes to the pricing of WL2 or Planetary Annihilation Early Access, I don't think the justification has anything to do with raising money. Honestly, despite the rush of people screaming that they're greedy and such, I don't really think higher prices will help them raise more money. The justification for both is that, during the Kickstarter, it cost X dollars to attain beta access. Giving it away for the price of the game not only screws over those that gave extra money, but it also screws over those who backed the Kickstarter at lower levels because they still don't get beta access. I think companies should stop using beta access as a carrot for higher pricing tiers during Kickstarters, but, once done, I don't think there's an easy answer.

But, yeah, I honestly think higher prices probably result in -less- revenue. Why? It's pretty simple market economics. Why are these games priced in the 20-30 range to begin with anyway? Because they'll sell more than twice as many copies in that price range as they would at 50-60.

As for how to avoid the unconscionable evil of all of this… maybe just not buy early access games that you're not interested in or that are out of your price range?

If a major act of evil can be avoided by just.. not buying something for a few months.. maybe it's not really all that horribly evil?

killias2:
Steam is the only answer. It's convenient, it's easy to use, it's simple and fast. It's great.
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January 14th, 2014, 16:48
Originally Posted by Sir_Brennus View Post
Oh that's an easy one

1. It's still STEAM.

2. It destroys the firecamp experience of all gamers playing the same game for the first time just after release. Destroys community feeling.

3. It's STEAM, okay?

4. If it is not planned in a chapter wise structure, Early Access diminishes the dramatic effect of a game. Think of watching a shitty CamRip of Avatar first and the HD, 3D movie in the theatre later. Would you enjoy it as much as you'd do if you missed out on the CamRip?

5. Did I mention it's a STEAM program?

I don't quite understand the Steam hate. It's a great service - they regularly have wonderful sales on games, their library interface is easy on the eyes and their social networking tools are very handy and useful. Without Steam, I wouldn't have gotten into PC gaming as much as I have.

I do agree about early access though. I have no problem with anyone offering it to those who want it, some people like that kind of stuff. Personally, I'd rather wait for the final game. And it does have risks - after all of this time, some people still don't understand what a beta release is, and get hot and bothered when there are bugs and glitches in the game. The name "Early Access" is also a little misleading - those not understanding the concept may think that it means that the game is finished and they simply just get it a few months before street date.
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January 14th, 2014, 17:22
I did not read the whole thread. I'm generally negative about early access. But still open and a bit undecided. My main fears: a) developer has made his money already at early access state and might lose interest in development. b) players also play the shit out of the game and lose interest as well.

So what I fear is that development stops sooner than without early access.

Let's say Bohemia Interactive with Dayz standalone. They already must have made millions at early access. Why should they still work hard on it?
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January 14th, 2014, 17:48
No opposition between KS and SEA. Both share the same negativity when it comes to gaming.

Both are concept selling outlets. Games are sold on their concept, not on their gameplay.

That kind of funding methods will favour good concept sellers over good game makers.

The question to ask is actually the reverse: why should people interested in playing good games support KS/SEA?
They might be good games released thanks to those funding platforms but they are going to be drowned in the ocean of games that hold only through their concept.


Originally Posted by pibbur who View Post
I found the blog post interesting. It's of course from the viewpoint of the developer, which to me is evident from the context.
Stating things like every gamer should be pro the system does not help the clarity.


Originally Posted by NyxVampiria View Post
Great comparison..my love for Larian will never diminish
The comparison is a disaster. And disgusting.
KS and Steam Early Access both rely on voluntary participation to work. They are very different from a published game that are released any way.
It means that for the KS/SEA projects to go through, some must have unprotected sex just so that some others can enjoy safe sex in the end.
Calling for some people to be sacrificed for some to enjoy comfort is disgusting.
Originally Posted by killias2 View Post
Half the damn complainers probably own at least several early access games, and, if the game is good, people will buy the game after release regardless.
That is the deal. Some player want to own games. Others see ownership as a necessary step to play them.
In the last case, KS or SEA are not that a wonderful things. They are though for players who want to own games.

Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Guys before you continue just one question.

Is early access (and kickstarter) "price" more expensive and undeserving compared to FREE(to play) MMOs you play?

Drithius, assuming putting any price on Early Access is not ok (and I say it is), then is it ok to advertise something as free then robbing players blind with microtransactions and saying it's the cash needed to develop DLC, more content and whatnot? What's the difference? Any smell of a fraud somewhere in there, but where exactly?
The difference? You do not pay to play in free to play games. You might or might not be conned into buying stuff. From what I experienced, the game design is made in a way players will want to buy. But it is still a decision to take.
It is free to see. And take your decision.

Fundamentally different from anything that is pay to see (that also includes gold version released games, not only KS/SEA)
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January 14th, 2014, 17:52
Originally Posted by Voqar View Post

That said, I've made comments about Wasteland II on steam forums because to me the pricing for it is idiotic. It's an indie game that has been community funded. $60 for early access is criminal no matter what BS they spew to justify it. There are LOTS of early access/alpha/kickstarted games selling thru steam and they don't usually pull stunts like this - but then, MOST of those developers are truly indie devs and not former corporate devs doing community funding for their pet projects and still behaving like corporate slime, as with the WL2 and/or SRR devs.
What I think is criminally insane is that people are willing to pay so much …. :O
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