The Early Access Excuse

One of the most common criticisms I have seen online with reviews about early access games is people that essentially state you shouldn’t ever deliver a negative review for a game that is in early access simply because it is in early access. I’ve seen it countless times to the point where I am actually starting to consider the Steam community to be completely brain dead for the most part.

Early access games are games that are essentially in development, and purchasers are alpha or beta testers that have often paid to be involved in the testing process. Often times this is done with a reduced cost, though there are cases where developers are certainly willing to give well known or influential gamers a free copy to get their feedback or to get coverage for the game.

If the developer has opted to include their game in an early access program, they are stating that the game is developed enough that the community as a whole can download and play the title. Sure, it is entirely fine for there to be bugs and features that are not entirely developed, but at the end of the day the developer is actively looking for feedback on the game and a review, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, is feedback.

There is a major difference between a negative review which simply says that something sucks and one that identifies faults within the design or implementation of features within a game. For example, there is currently a review on the early access title “Staxel”, which is essentially a mashup of Minecraft and Stardew Valley, which complains about the tutorial and dialogue system of the game taking a very long amount of time to get through.

Link: http://steamcommunity.com/id/ConcernedApe/recommended/405710/

The player leaving the review obviously has an issue with the length of the tutorial. We’re talking about a game that is essentially two different types of games combined, both of which have a rather large following. I don’t think it is outside the realm of possibility that a lot of the people that would be interested in playing the game prior to its full release are people who are familiar with either one or the other title, though chances are they are familiar with both.

The major selling game of this type of game is the fact that its essentially a combination of both types of games. Someone buying a game like this which doesn’t have a major publisher backing it are going to be buying it either at the recommendation of someone else, or due to the fact that its a mashup of two games they enjoy. As a result, they probably know how to play games.

It’s not crazy to think that a 30-minute tutorial feels out of place in a game that is essentially a Minecraft-inspired farming simulator. We’ve seen a number of variations of this theme, many without any feasible tutorial involved, and most of the players have very little issue playing.

Yet, you have people in the comments on the review pointing out that the game is in early access, attempting to state that the negative review is unfair because it is an early access title.

The point of early access is for the developer to get feedback during the development of the game. This is during the development of the game and a negative review, which was actually written quite respectful towards the developer, is a form of feedback provided to the developer telling them that they believe the tutorial is too long and cumbersome.

It’s criticism, and it is criticism that one could either agree or disagree with. However, anyone that argues that the criticism is invalid SIMPLY because the game is in early access is missing the entire point of a review and the entire point of early access. It makes me think that people are unable to use simple logic and reasoning and instead interpret any negativity towards something they have a passing interest in as an attack on something. It’s not, and anyone with that level of disconnection from reality should probably not be responding to reviews or even leaving reviews to begin with.

Just kind of wanted to get that off my chest without having to resort to having to argue for hours on end with individuals who will probably just “lol k” anyway.

Edit: The entire point of writing this blog was to get it out of my system so that I didn’t have to complain in the comments section, but sure enough I reloaded the page and lo and behold someone else had made the same error, criticizing the reviewer for their feedback. Of course.

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