In March 2013, Valve introduced Steam Early Access, a service that allowed developers to sell games that were still in development. It seemed like a win-win; developers were able to receive money during the development process and fans were able to offer solid input on their favorite titles.
Unfortunately, like crowdfunding, the biggest issue is that fans may spend money on a game that will never fully come together. In 2014, the EEDAR found that only 25 percent of Early Access titles released as full games. Still the idea is a good one on paper and there are many games that wouldn't exist without Early Access.
Today, GOG.com announced its own Early Access program, the unimaginatively titled Games in Development program. The idea is the same: players can purchase games that are still in development. GOG has some major differences though.
The first is that GOG.com will be curating all games available in the program. It'll only pick games that the community is rather excited about and GOG feels are likely to be developed to completion. GOG is also offering a 14 day, no questions asked return policy on all games available through the program.
Finally, picking up the games through the GOG Galaxy client means players can rollback to previous versions of Games in Development titles with no issue. The GOG Galaxy rollback feature is always on and creates snapshots of every title during a game's development. Want to jump back to the previous patch? Go ahead. Want to jump back three or four patches? That's allowed too. Frankly, the rollback feature should be standard for PC releases everywhere, especially when a bad patch can tank a title or even your saved games.
All games remain DRM-free, in line with GOG.com standard policy. The first games available on GOG GiD include:
- Starbound (33% Discount)
- Ashes of the Singularity (25% Discount)
- Project Zomboid (40% Discount)
- TerraTech (30% Discount)
- The Curious Expedition (15% Discount)
If I hadn't already purchased the games in that list I'm interested in on Steam, I'd jump right in. For fan of DRM-free games, this is their first entry into world of Early Access. (Some may have backed games that offer beta executables.) At the very least, the curated nature of the program, rollback feature, and the 14-day return policy are big wins for GOG over Valve's similar offering.