Posted on July 15, 2014, Marshall Lemon Xbox One, 360 Devs Ask For Early Access Program
Early access games and programs can be a little hit-and-miss at the moment, but it’s a development that could only occur on PC platforms. That might not be the case for much longer however; Sony is already kicking around the possibility of alpha releases, and with its indie support is in a great position to do so. Now, mere days after that revelation, we’ve learned that Microsoft is in similar talks, and that it’s a common request from game developers.
“When we talk about early access, it typically means a game that you buy and it evolves over time to become 1.0, so you’re buying it before it’s 1.0 – Minecraft on PC is a perfect example,” ID@Xbox’s Chris Charla told Develop. “It’s something developers have been asking for, and we are listening really closely to developers, but I don’t have anything to announce on that right now.”
Both Microsoft and Sony are reluctant to suggest that early access could be established on consoles, which is understandable. Even if it wasn’t a significant shift from traditional console sales, quality control is a major criticism of Steam’s early access program, and that’s something both companies would like to avoid. That being said, Charla notes that early access wouldn’t be so different than current beta programs, albeit with some kind of payment model in place. “Right now on Xbox One and Xbox 360, you can do betas,” he explained. “A lot of games do, and some games do private betas.”
If developers are pushing for early access programs, that might be the final nudge the console market needs. Many indies already take advantage of the feature on Steam, and without a console equivalent, there’s less incentive to wait for a 1.0 console release when you could buy an alpha immediately. The question is whether console players would be interested in early access games, something that as of yet remains to be seen.