Game Front’s Early Access Review Policy: Yes, We Have One
The rise of “Early Access” — games released in unfinished states during their development, which players can purchase, play and leave feedback about as the game is completed — has recently become a significant aspect of game development and the player experience. But it presents journalists with a conundrum: is it fair to review a game before it’s finished, even though it’s available for purchase?
At Game Front, we’ve though about the Early Access situation quite a bit, and we’ve decided that we need to set a policy of whether we can evaluate Early Access games, and how to do it. We’ve decided that evaluating these games is essential: They’re available, they’re popular, and our readers are purchasing and playing them. Therefore, we need to be reviewing them.
However, reviewing Early Access titles in our traditional way isn’t really fair, either to the games themselves or the people who made them. After all, the very definition of Early Access is “unfinished.” But since Early Access games still take players’ money — often the full price of the finished game, or even more — we’ve decided that they’re open to at least some form of scrutiny.
With that in mind, we have created our own Early Access Evaluation Policy, and with it three potential evaluation ratings: Verdict: Buy It, Verdict: Wait On It, and Verdict: Skip It. The long and short of it is that we intend to do our best to fairly assess each game and help you determine for yourself whether or not the game in its early access state is worth your time and money. For all early access games we cover, we will continue to follow their progress and keep you informed of any and all changes to our initial evaluation.
Our first early access assessment is our own Mike Sharkey’s look at DayZ, and it’s an excellent example of how future early access games coverage will look.