People of the internet! It’s time for you all to gather round and sit quietly, as it’s the part of the week where we get to complain about the things that irk me most in the gaming industry, and rave about the very best of the best.
Today we are going to have a look at “Early-Access Alpha” for our rant; what it means to us, what it means to developers, and what we think it should mean. For our Rave I’ll be chatting about streamers, and the effect that streaming has on our beloved gaming community.
Rant: Early Access Alpha
Don’t get me wrong, We all think that Early Access Alpha is a good thing on the whole. It is a great way for developers to get feedback from eager gamers which gives players an input on the final product, and saves time and money for the developers. “That’s fantastic! What could you possibly have against it?” I hear you all saying in a chorus of curious voices. Well, sometimes “early-access alpha” is used in somewhat nefarious ways, and is occasionally used to describe something that simply is not an early-access alpha, especially when it lasts forever.
Extended Early Access
Something that has become a small trend lately, is keeping the early access going for a ridiculous amount of time. If a video game developer has an alpha underway for their (eventually) free-to-play, and they are currently getting a decent amount of money charging for the early acces alpha, why stop?
The argument can be made that charging for access helps limit your players to those that are really interested in testing the gameplay. This is maybe justifiable, it makes it easy to keep an eye on the users and get some valuable feedback. The thing that upsets me is when a game is in early access, but the developers add in-game purchases, and even organize a tournament at a gaming convention to advertise the fact that you can buy the game…I think we all know that I'm talking about H1Z1. This is NOT what early access should be about, and Daybreak should be ashamed.
Perhaps this is the effect of the business practices in the gaming industry becoming a little more cutthroat and moneygrabbing, but I don’t think it’s a good trend. What developers asking players to do is pay for a game that isn’t even finished yet, if anything developers should be paying testers. I can imagine going to a car dealership and buying an “early-access car”, and having to sign a form with some ridiculous statements on it:
- Rear seats to come in a later patch.
- Currently does not turn left, bugs will be ironed out in a future update. (Current workaround is continuously turning right until desired direction is achieved)
- If you run out of fuel, this can be bought directly from us, and only us, at a low cost.
- No contractual obligation that the car will even be finished. You just have to trust us to complete it at some point in the future. (and give us more money)
These kind of demands would never fly, and there’s a good reason for that. So why should it work in the gaming industry? Are we, as gamers, just being idiots by giving money to companies that look at the phrase “early access”, and see it as a way to make money? Are we giving unscrupulous companies an excuse to make money from either an unfinished product, or a product they are not willing to finish for monetary gain?
There’s nothing that I like doing more with my time than sitting down and watching a teenager play video games on the other side of the planet. It is something that may seem strange to outsiders, but streaming video games has become a full time job for a whole lot of people on platforms like twitch.tv and azubu.tv, and they can earn a whole lot of money. The influence that some of these internet personalities change the very face of some games, and building their own little cult of personality. It’s not surprising when some of the more famous streamers regularly pull in over 30,000 viewers, and the League of Legends LCS streams are usually upwards of 250,000. This is nothing compared to some viewer numbers coming from Asia, where Misaya once had 2.4 MILLION viewers when streaming in China.
This is the start of something beautiful, people. We have complete control over who we watch, and what we watch. I personally love watching small name streamers who are often good for learning from, just as much as I love watching some of the streaming gods, like HotshotGG (back in the day), Forsen or Reynad. There’s never a dull moment when you have an internet connection and access to twitch.tv.