Co-operative survival shooter Killing Floor 2 came onto Steam’s Early Access program in April and garnered rave reviews despite it initially releasing with just three maps and only seven characters to choose from.
In a recent GamesIndustry.biz interview, Tripwire Interactive’s Vice President Alan Wilson describes how the studio is far away from “horror stories” and “nasty cash grabs” because they didn’t treat Early Access like a “paid beta.” Instead, he describes how Killing Floor 2 succeeded because the studio “do not subscribe to the view that games on Early Access should be broken.”
In other words, because Tripwire are asking people to pay for an unfinished product ($30), they owe it to the customers to at least make sure what content IS available is largely bug-free and playable. Killing Floor 2’s early access was used by Tripwire to “check out our thinking” and see if “we are on the right track.” – the devs wanted to see if players were enjoying what was being produced and if a finished product in the same style would be an enjoyable and fun experience. Wilson feels that developers should not “piss about” when it comes to accepting money for their products.
He goes on to add how abusing Early Access and releasing broken products not only hurts customers who buy in but also Steam’s release program itself. He says that potential customers will visit Steam pages and, upon seeing an Early Access logo, will simply see it as a busted product and will shy away from products that could be great.
Overall, Wilson is not breaking any new ground here – we have seen some games in such poor states on Early Access that Valve itself has removed them despite wanting to move further from a curation role on their own platform. For example, The Stomping Lands, a dinosaur survival sim was pulled in early September last year after a month-long silence from its developer.
In any case, Wilson hopes that consumers will wait out and persevere with Early Access to allow other devs to break into an expensive industry but at the same time hopes that developers will become more mature and respectful of their customer base, ultimately hoping that we “learn who to trust.”