Steam Early Access Program: Dream For Lazy Developers

what is early accessSteam Early Access, a program that was previously launched by the Valve Corporation on March 20, 2013 allows customers to have immediate access to the playable version of an unfinished game. In theory, the main intent of creating this program was for the developer to sell the early version of the game to their customers then get feedback or entail of the game’s performance from them after they have experienced the “rough beta” of the game in its current state. By doing so the developers are able to update and/or fix any problems that may occur in the game as they progress towards its full release. This hold strategy of Early Access Steaming has been an eye opener to larger publishers, such as Ubisoft, SOE, and Square Enix. This is all thanks to the major success of Early Access titles like Day Z, Rust, and Prison Architect. The success of these games, especially Day Z (generating over millions of dollars) has raised popularity of the Early Access publishing model to new heights.

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 Just last in February 2014, the release of Steam titles exploded with approximately 1,305 releases thus far. This was a major improvement compared to the previous year (2013), which had about 585 releases, (a 123% increase in releases).early-access-popularity-growing-but-only-25-percent-have-released-as-a-full-game-141591818201

So far, Steam Early Access has been very successful at generating money, but as far as releasing the full version of the game things haven’t been looking so good.

Over the last few years many game developments have been taking part in the Early Access system, but only a few have been able to make it to the full release of the game. In fact, it is said that only 25% of the games that used Early Access have actually released as full games. This is one of main issues with the Early Access program- When the customer purchase a game there is no guarantee that the game would ever reached its full released. Because of this, Valve had to make it clear to the customers that there was a low percent chance that most the games would reach their full release, and that they were buying the game at their own risk in order to prevent future problems due to unfairness and deception. early-access-popularity-growing-but-only-25-percent-have-released-as-a-full-game-141591824681

When it all comes down to it, the main purpose of creating this Stream Early Access program is more to make money than to improve the development of the game. Hardly any of the game reach their full released and to add on to that most of the games sold through Early Access are more expensive than the finished version.”The RPG genre is a particularly strong example of this with Early Access editions that average $24.24 compared to the full game versions at $19.87.” (Walker)

For the developers there is practically no down side to this method when it comes to making money, at least not for the larger developers- they collect money and grow their user base, while at the same time developing the title and getting feedback from the consumers who are really interested in the game. For the smaller developers, on the other hand, things haven’t been exactly working out very well. “Early Access in its current form seems to favor larger developers with the time and resources to drip-feed updates to an engaged community. Smaller developers can’t always deliver the level of attention, progress, and engagement that Steam customers expect.”

According to Mark Federman, “The medium is the message tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. With this early warning, we can set out to characterize and identify the new medium before it becomes obvious to everyone – a process that often takes years or even decades. And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive.” (Federman)

This quote relates to Steam Early Access because it is a new and extremely useful program that has to major influence on a lot of developments. It also gives us the opportunity to take advantage of the outcome of future developments.

Judging from where Steam Early Access is now, I would say that Steam Early Access is in for the long run. Although they have a bad reputation in the game industry for not reaching the full release of most games, it can be a major benefit for other corporations if used properly.

NBA 2K: An Improvement Towards Authenticity

NBA 2K is an annual basketball video game franchise that was created since 1999, and was developed by visual concepts. This video game was originally published by Sega on the Sega Dreamcast but after Sega discarded its support for Sega Dreamcast, the series had to move under the support of 2K sport. “Its primary competitor in the marketplace was the NBA Live series from EA Sports.”

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One of the main things that make NBA 2K so popular, causing fans to want to buy the game, is the vast improvement that have been made in the game throughout the years. NBA 2K has always been an extraordinary game since its release on February 17, 1999; but over the last few years the visual concepts, storylines, gameplay and stimulations within the game have improved tremendously. This improvement, along with the real-life drama that occurs within the game has had a major effect on its audience, allowing its sales to increase a great deal. Just last year in December, NBA 2K14 surpassed “Madden as the best-selling next-gen sports title – – the first time an NBA game has outperformed other sports game (namely Madden) during a console’s launch.” “The Clipper just sold for a record two billion dollars. And more people than ever — even people that don’t pay attention to basketball – were tuned in with multiple storylines: Donald Sterling, courtroom drama, LeBron returning to his hometown.” These are the main things that catch the attention of the audience.

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According to Linda Holmes, “… if you were really interested in monkeys, and you wanted to understand monkeys and be of value and use to them, you would not only have to under what monkeys ideally eat, you would also have to understand what monkeys actually eat and how it affects them and why they make those choices….” (Holmes). When Linda makes this statement, she is basically saying that in order to know a person you must first analyze their behavior towards things and why they respond or react the way they do. And the NBA 2K creators have been very good at doing this. Over the last few years, the creators of NBA 2K have been analyzing the way the basketball players behave, and then applying such behavior into the game in order to it more authentic. They have also been studying the things that fascinates their audience/fans the most and how they react or respond to certain things in the game; and they see that the fans are mainly driven towards the authenticity of the game.

If a person enjoys playing sports such as basketball, football, or soccer in real life, more than likely they are going to enjoy playing those games in a video game, and the more realistic the game is, the more tuned in they’re going to be. People love to see authenticity even in games; especially if the game is related to something that they enjoy in real life. According to Erick Boenisch, “They want to see their favorite players look like they look and act like they act and behave like they behave.” (Boenisch) When fans see such legitimacy in a game they become extremely fascinated and are forced to buy the game so that they could become a part of the awesome experience. And so far, all of the upgrades and enhancements that occurred within 2K are raising the authenticity of the game making it more and more realistic.

Although NBA 2k is just a video game it plays a major role in any NBA fan’s life. It extends their experience with basketball in a virtual reality world, allowing them to have full control of their favorite player and at the same time giving them the power to determine the outcome of the game. Since NBA 2K consist of all the NBA teams and players and a few of the Euroleague teams (with the addition of 11 that were included in 2k15), no one has to miss out; everyone is able to pick whichever team and player they want. In addition, each player’s personality is based on how they really behave in real life, which makes it even more interesting.

Most people that purchase NBA 2k games are NBA fans; and yes they are going to want to play with their favorite team along with some of the top players in the NBA such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant (just because they’re the best) to make their way to the championships. What more would an NBA fan want than to have that authentic experience of controlling the actions of their favorite players and leading their team to victory.

Over the past few years NBA 2K has made great progress with the authenticity of the game and have been very successful at impressing the fans; as long as there are basketball fans around this trending is going to continue.