UPDATE: BlackSoul Extended Edition has now been moved back to a full Steam release. We've reached out to Valve and XeniosVision for comment on the situation.
Only February 26, 2014, Italian developer XeniosVision released BlackSoul: Extended Edition as a full release on Steam. The game is a callback to the older Resident Evil games, with two protagonists, a gloomy atmosphere, a fixed camera, and tank controls. It's taken a while for BlackSoul to get to Steam; it was released in demo form on IndieDB in June 2013, with a subsequent full release on October. XeniosVision put the game up on Steam Greenlight in 2012 prior to its full release and the game was finally approved in December 2013.
XeniosVision's problems started when BlackSoul Extended launched: buyers on Steam complained about crashes, driver issues with AMD video cards, and general incompatibility issues. The first few "Most Helpful" reviews on the game are all negative. (It's worth noting that the reviews on Desura aren't as bad.) Faced with mounting criticism and several reviews below 50 on Metacritic, the developer came up with an interesting fix.
They moved the game into Steam's Early Access program.
This is seemingly the first time that's happened since Valve launched Early Access in March of last year. Launching into Early Access is one thing, as buyers know they're purchasing games that are incomplete and still in development. Early Access allows the most fervent fans to be a part of the development process and helps developers gets the resources and feedback they need to develop their games.
The problem is early buyers of BlackSoul did not know they were buying an Early Access game; they thought they were purchasing a full finished game. It's quite understandable that they feel lied to and misled for purchasing a product still development. The last time Steam had a similar problem was when The War Z launched at the end of 2012: the game was eventually removed from Steam due to complaints of missing features, and it later returned under the name Infestation: Survivor Stories.
For its part, XeniosVision is committed to working further on the title. In a post on the Steam forums, the developer said it was planning to remove most of the loading screens, improve textures and animations, enhance menu fonts, and add gamepad support. There's no specific timetable on all these improvements as XeniosVision is a two-man team.
The question is, should games be allowed to move from a full retail release to Early Access? I'm on the side that believes this is a loophole that needs to be closed. Purchasers should have full knowledge of what they're getting into; a Steam store release and an Early Access release mean two completely different things. BlackSoul has made it through the loophole already, but it's probably not good for Steam to leave the door open to this being a normal occurrence.