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Natural Selection 2 dev’s ‘Subnautica’ dives into Steam Early Access

Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds launched its latest game on Steam Early Access this week, Subnautica. In it, players submerse themselves in an “alien underwater world” with brightly-colored creatures and environments, such as coral reefs…
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EA Sports UFC kicks back on EA Access next week

The full version of EA Sports UFC will be available through EA Access starting next Thursday, December 18. The mixed martial arts game will enter the Xbox One streaming service’s “Vault,” allowing subscribers to play the game as much as they like. EA…
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Don’t Starve Together Enters Early Access December 15

Don't Starve has been a big success for Klei Entertainment, and the company continues moving forward with its plans for a standalone multiplayer add-on, Don't Starve Together.

Klei is opening up Don't Starve Together in beta form on Steam Early Access, and you can get a taste of what to expect by watching the trailer below.

According to the game's site, Don't Starve Together enters early access on December 15 as part of the "Frontier Pack." The pack includes Don't Starve and two copies of the beta version of Don't Starve Together for $ 20. If you already have the base game on Steam, the pack only costs $ 5. 

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EA Sports UFC Is The Next Free Game On EA Access

Attempting to keep pace with PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Games With Gold services, Electronic Arts continues to add titles to its EA Access game subscription service. The latest title in the lineup is EA Sports UFC, the first entry in the UFC franchise since EA acquired it from THQ in 2012.

The inclusion of EA Sports UFC on December 18 will bring the total count of games free with EA Access to seven, joining including titles like Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Unlike Sony and Microsoft’s offerings, EA’s service never removes games from its collection, meaning that no matter when you subscribe, you’ll have access to the same games enjoyed by longtime members.

EA Access is currently only available on Xbox One at $ 5 per month or $ 30 per year. Along with the host of free games, subscribers get to play EA games five days before their general release and a 10-percent discount on digital content by EA.

EA Sports UFC is coming to EA Access on December 18. To find out what resident GI editor Ben Reeves thought of the game, check out his review.

[Source: GameSpot]

 

Our Take
For many gamers, the viability of EA Access will depend on the publisher continuing to add new games to its fledgling library. UFC may not be a big draw for most subscribers, but it's still another free game, and shows a continued dedication on EA's part to improve the service.

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H1Z1 brings the zombie apocalypse to Early Access in January

Publisher Sony Online Entertainment has announced that its upcoming, open-world zombie apocalypse MMO H1Z1 will debut on Steam’s Early Access service on January 15.

Normally this is where we’d warn you that Early Access games are, by definition, not…
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Molyneux: Kickstarter, Early Access can be ‘destructive’

Peter Molyneux’s Godus earned £526,563 ($ 852K) on Kickstarter in December 2012, yet the designer recently admitted that he would delay the funding campaign entirely if he could go back to the game’s pre-planning stages. In an interview with TechRadar…
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Peter Molyneux learns the harsh lessons of Kickstarter and Early Access

“What I’ve learned is that doing Kickstarter and Steam Early Access, before you’ve got something which is defined and playable, is a hugely risky undertaking that can be very destructive to the final quality of the game.” …


Gamasutra News

Devs butter I Am Bread for December 3 Early Access launch

Developer Bossa Studios (of Surgeon Simulator fame) has revealed plans to launch its next stab at turning awkward movement into a game when I Am Bread reaches Steam Early Access on December 3.

While Early Access is just that – it offers a pre-releas…
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Valve Tightens Up Guidelines For Steam Early Access Titles

As developers explore new business and development models, one that has become a growing favorite is “early access.” While Steam’s offerings of titles that aren’t fully released isn’t unique or original, the platform has become synonymous with the practice.

Yesterday, Giant Bomb reported that changes were made to the Steam Early Access. Valve confirmed to us updated rules for developers seeking to distribute games using this mechanism and provided the full text of the notification.

These are broken up into firm rules and guidelines that serve as suggestions for operating under the program. The new strictures are designed to provide transparency and honesty about the Early Access model.

1. You must include Steam Early Access branding and information about the current state of your game on any third-party sites where you are distributing Steam keys for your Early Access game.

We work really hard to make sure that customers understand what they are buying when they get an Early Access title on Steam. 

But we've seen that many of these titles are sold as keys on other websites where there is no explanation of what Early Access is or what the current state of your product is now versus what you hope to achieve. As a result, we are now requiring developer to include the Steam Early Access branding as well as information on the current state of your game and a link to the Steam Early Access FAQ on any site where you are selling Steam keys for your Early Access title. You should also include the Early Access questions that you answered when setting up your Steam page. 

2. Do not make specific promises about future events.

For example, there is no way you can know exactly when the game will be finished, that the game will be finished, or that planned future additions will definitely happen. 

Do not ask your customers to bet on the future of your game. Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realized. 

3. Steam Early Access titles need to be available to customers through Steam.

If Valve is enabling your Early Access game we expect you to have the Early Access game available for sale on the Steam store. Do not offer it for sale on Steam any later than you offer it anywhere else. 

4. Don't overcharge Steam customers.

We expect Steam customers to get a price for the Early Access game no higher than they are offered on any other service or website. Please make sure that’s the case.

Valve’s guidelines, while suggestions, seek to reduce the chance that games will stall out before release. Valve recommends openness about new builds and whether they will impact previous save states, and the right timing for launching in Early Access.

Developers are urged not to launch before there is an actual game. Tech demos are considered too early.

On the other side, if a game is released, Early Access is the wrong model. The program should not be used for bug testing.

Of particular note is Valve’s clarification about financial realities. Early Access should not be used as a way to fund the rest of the development exclusively. In other words, developers should be able to complete the game without reaching a sales threshold prior to release.

“If you are counting on selling a specific number of units to survive and complete your game, then you need to think carefully about what it would mean for you or your team if you don't sell that many units,” Valve writes. “Are you willing to continue developing the game without any sales? Are you willing to seek other forms of investment?”

We’ve reached out to Valve with follow-up questions about the new rules, particularly the fourth entry about price parity. Currently there are some free-to-play games available via Early Access that require some kind of purchase to gain access. 

In these cases, it is not unheard of for a game to be available without purchase through another channel. We’ll update should we receive clarification from Valve. 

[Source: Giant Bomb]

 

Our Take
Any step towards transparency, especially when consumers are taking a gamble with developers, is a move in the right direction. I continue to be skeptical of Early Access, though I want to be clear that there are developers doing it right. The most we can ask when buying an unfinished game is a fair representation of the risks and challenges.

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Double Fine’s Massive Chalice pours onto Steam Early Access

Massive Chalice, a tactical strategy game from Costume Quest developer Double Fine, has poured itself a glass and chosen to sit at the Steam Early Access table. To celebrate the game’s soft launch, Double Fine is going to take a little foam off the…
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