Is Early Access Better than a Full Release?

If you look up early access on steam there are over 1,000 games to choose from. That is a significant amount of games that are available to play but have yet to have a full release. This list includes a large portion of games that have been in early access for a long time. Games like Rust, which have been in early access since 2013.

Lately these games have been getting a lot of heat for never having a full release or for adding DLC to a game that hasn’t even come out yet. But what if it is better for these games to stay in early access than to have a full release?

A case for early access

Early access games are constantly updated and always evolving, with developers creating updates on a regular basis. These updates are coming for free and almost always make the game even better than it was before. This allows developers to fine tune their game as people are playing it.

On the other hand, you have games like State of Decay, an early access game that got a full release. The latest “update” to this game came as DLC for the original game which had to be paid for! If the game had still been in Early Access then the “DLC” could have come out as an update and simply made the game better for everyone. Instead the DLC led to the game getting mostly negative reviews on steam.

Games like PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, Rust, and ARK: Survival Evolved I would argue are better than games that have gotten a full release recently and these games are continuing to get better. In many ways, early access games get more support and end up being better games than traditional full releases. If this is the case, then why should we pressure games to get a full release.

Now Early Access games still should come with a warning. There have been many games that have done exactly what No Man’s Sky did except they still claim they will make it better (and they are not). Many of the original Early Access survival games that came out the same time as Rust and DayZ had huge promises for what their game was going to be able to do. This looped many people into the game waiting for what was next and these huge updates never showed up. These games are still sitting in “Early Access” even though they are not getting any better and probably never will.

However, there is nothing wrong with a game getting multiple free updates and continuing to fix bugs and add new and interesting things to the game. Rust has been built from the ground up twice. PUBG added a first person only game mode. ARK has added dozens of dinosaurs to the game. All of these updates were done for free. Meanwhile, we have games No Man’s Sky which flopped as a full release.

Maybe we need to change the name from early access to “we are just going to keep making this game better” (sorry I am bad with names) and I think we should take away the negative connotation of early access and start applauding these games for the free updates and support that many of their fans love regardless of the fact that is an early access game.

I believe that if we replaced betas with early access launches, games would have better launches and be better overall. It would allow developers time to update their games to be what the players of the game want. It would allow developers time to fix the small bugs and random glitches that their games have and lastly, it would allow fans to be a part of the making of their favorite video games.

I will never forget watching Rust grow from its infancy to being the game that it is today and all the hundreds of hours I put in watching the game slowly get better and better. I will continue to buy early access games like PUBG and ARK: survival evolved because they are fun, will be supported, and will get better as they go on.

Let me know what you guys think in the comments below!


Tyler Hull33 Posts

I'm the one who plays all the weird indie titles but is horrible with remembering names. Commonly found asking "Hey, did you guys play that one game that came out like a while ago with that weird character in it?".


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