There’s something inherently risky about investing in Early Access. Game testing, an idealized career path, isn’t brimful of scantly clad blondes, exotic marijuana and videogames galore. Grandma’s Boy, despite popular belief, is not based on a true story. The reality is a much different affair; long nights, playing the same broken levels for hours on end, jotting pages of information, doodling suicidal stick-figures to ward off thoughts of plunging from a window. It’s a tough job with very little reward.
That’s something that translates well into Steam’s Early Access program. While there are plenty of worthwhile experiences like Starbound and Wasteland that, when coupled with player participation, resulted in something truly special, there are hundreds of examples that can potentially sour the process for any newcomer interested in wetting their feet. The fact is, many games in Early Access are terrible, and it’s become an acceptable launchpad that some developers exploit for both financial gain and alpha testing purposes.
The idea behind Sony’s long-discussed plans for bringing Early Access to PlayStation platforms sets to find a comfortable balance between finished product and enjoyable involvement. Adam Boyes, vice president of publishing at Sony has been mulling over the concept for a while, and despite some due reservations, believes the system can work. “There are people who always back games, enjoy Kickstarters, try things that they know aren’t finished but are willing to make better — 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.”
According to Boyes, Sony’s primary concern is that players, rightfully expecting a fleshed-out experience from their PSN download, won’t be pleased with an Early Access purchase. There are, however, plenty of ideas in the works, and while Boyes couldn’t confirm whether it’s something Sony is actively developing, it’s likely that we’ll see Early Access make its way to consoles this generation.
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