With games continuously evolving after release, gamers have become accustomed to frequent title updates and patches. But, what if you could see a game evolve before it's ever officially "released"? That's what Steam plans on offering through its new "Early Access" library of games.
Through the new initiative, you'll be able to buy beta versions of games through Steam. Because the games are incomplete, you'll have the privilege of not only playing the games early, but you'll also "help test and report bugs." You may even have to pay extra to get said right.
Valve is spinning the effort as a way to players to offer feedback as games "grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and the community," adding "this is the way games should be made."
Kickstarter has popularized the notion of pre-purchasing a game that may be nothing more than an idea. "Early Access" on Steam, at the very least, gives players a chance to pay for something far more substantial. By marking games as in-development, Valve can avoid a repeat of The War Z--a game that was "released" on Steam without many of the features it would eventually sport. The confusion caused the title to get pulled, with executive producer Sergey Titov saying "online games are [a] living breathing GAME SERVICE. This is not a boxed product that you buy one time. It's evolving product that will have more and more features and content coming it."