Are early access games worth it?
Early access games give developers and players a unique relationship as a game goes through early-to-final development stages. As a player, you don’t have to be among the select few for the game’s alpha and beta phases; you can play immediately and experience a new perspective as the developers continue to build and improve the game based on your feedback.
Not all early access games are worth it, though, but some are the best deals you can find on Steam. I’ve only liked about half of the ones I’ve tried, and the ones I disliked were mostly because I took my husband’s word for it and didn’t do the research myself. [EN: Shots fired]
How can you tell if an early access game is worth it?
That’s a personal question, and it really depends on you and your gaming style.
Do you like indie games? Many early release games are indie games where the developer is trying to see if the game idea is marketable. Graphics can be rather lacking. If the game is weird to you at first, come back later. You never know how much you’ll like the next update until you try it.
Do you have an open mind when it comes to games? Early release games are a risk. Sometimes the game will be a gem, and sometimes it’ll be a waste of time and money. If the developer doesn’t “finish” the game, you may have spent money on a game that goes nowhere. Not every game will have ARK’s success story: ARK is the gem in a pile of early release rocks. At $30 during early release, it had numerous updates, new maps for me to explore, new dinosaurs for my toddler to ride, and new stuff for my husband to build for two years. Even my friends couldn’t resist returning to ARK with each new map update, and they are game-hopping junkies. Now, at $60 with its official release, I’m glad I bought it two years ago.
Does your first impression determine how you view the rest of a game? If yes, then an early release game is never worth it. Just wait until the official release. Early release games are still in production, so your first impression may incorrectly reflect the game after several patches, updates, and the official release. I struggled with this on Castle Story. I thought I had a more open mind, but the frustrating glitches with port forwarding and multiplayer ruined the game for me. It’s one of my husband’s favorite games after a recent update, but I still can’t stand looking at the yellow minions who disobey my every order and betray me to work for my husband.
If you still can’t decide, read the reviews and look at screenshots and videos again.
If you decide to wait, check it out in a month or so. You might like it when it’s more polished. If you’ve found a gem, play it now. Don’t wait. Watching a game grow and develop is one of the coolest experiences. I like seeing how things are made — and watching a game progress in early access satisfies that itch.