What makes for a successful game these days? Many factors can contribute to this, but more recently we’ve seen a decline in the content of games through early access on steam. Too often do we see developers trap themselves in “alpha hell” by forcing their games into steam early access in hopes of getting high traffic user feedback. This rarely happens unfortunately… for multiple reasons. From personal experience, the cost to play these games appears to be downfall for most. Many times you’ll see games that have been on early access for 3+ years that require the player to buy the game for 30 dollars on a game that isn’t even finished… They offer promising future content but lack the actual backing to do so. We the players understand that a game considered to be in alpha or beta phase is not done, but when we invest our money into a game that the developers don’t seem to care about it leaves a bad taste for supporting future titles that meet this criteria.
Recently at PAX East 2017 I had the opportunity to have a hands on gameplay test of Guns of Icarus: Alliance by Muse Games. The game had a great feel and felt incredibly polished, even though the developers proudly stated, “there was still more work to be done.” When the gameplay test was over I followed up with one of the developers asking if the game was on early access. The developer responding with stating that the game went through several closed beta’s and an open beta with the game releasing shortly.
While these are good ways of getting feedback they are simply not enough. What Muse Games accomplished was the ability to use company time to send their employees to conventions like PAX East and more allowing the developers to gain great feedback from their community. In a short explained lesson… more developers should use conventions as a means to forward their games instead of forcing them into “alpha hell”. The developers from Muse Games seemed to be more proud of the knowledge learned and revisions made with their efforts at conventions than their game itself. I hope to seem more and more companies adopting this method in the future.