There’s A $90 Steam Game, And People Are Freaking Out

Strategy game Planetary Annihilation, which looks awesome, went live on Steam this week. Sort of. The game isn’t finished, but anyone wanting to play it now, ahead of schedule, can do so. For $US90.

That’s a lot of money, sure, for what’s essentially an alpha of the game, but in addition to access now it also gives you entry to the game’s beta and then the finished thing when it’s out in December, which is a whole six months away. Note that the final game itself won’t cost $US90 for the general public; it’s just something people can pay now if they’re impatient.

If you don’t want to pay $US90 for the privilege of playing a game early, just wait for the final retail build, like you do most other games. It’s something the developers made clear during the Kickstarter, make clear on the game’s Steam forums and make very clear on Steam’s storefront.

Never ones to let giant print get in the way of a mob, though, the game’s Metacritic page is being bombarded with negative reviews, as are the game’s Steam boards. Here are some of the more choice examples:

  • There should be actual benefits for investing time and money into an alpha game (and is released on Steam, this is not on Kickstarter), not get financially slapped in thn the face for actually supporting a niche game from an unknown indie developer.
  • 90$ For alpha? What are we doing, paying extra for the privilege of testing your game FOR you? There is literally no reason to defend this. You want people to buy in early, get some extra money? You offer it at a DISCOUNT, you don’t charge MORE (substantially so) than the final product. What kinda are you guys smoking?
  • $90 for a cheapo, bug riddled hunk of crap. The makers are con artists and don’t deserve to be allowed anywhere within the gaming industry. They should be shunned, they should be removed from all game stores.
  • This gives greed and money schemes a new level of an epical standard. I don’t know what the devs have been smoking but after a fully funded kickstarter they should just make the game and release it for a fair price and not use steam as a kickstarter project and blow their money on drugs and hookers cause i have no other explanation to where the two million went too if they need extra money now while the game is in alpha.

I mean, sure, the price is super high compared to other games you can buy your way into, and some are arguing the pricing should be backwards (cheaper now and more expensive at release, as if most people actually report bugs in alphas), but it could be more than $US90 and it wouldn’t matter. Why?

This is early access to an unfinished game. It doesn’t have to play to market forces. I mean, if Activision offered people $US1000 to play Call of Duty early, they’d get takers. You might not be able to afford it, you might not even want to afford it, but it doesn’t matter. You’re getting early access. You’re getting behind the velvet rope, and if the club wants to charge a $US90 entry fee, it’s got every right to.

Plus there’s the matter of honouring the game’s really early supporters, those who backed the game on Kickstarter. That campaign offered as its $US90 tier the chance to play the game super-early (in the alpha), the same point Steam customers can access the game now.

“Pricing the Alpha any lower than $US90 would be a slap in the face to our Kickstarter backers who are just getting access now too”, Uber’s Bob Berry tells Kotaku. “We know we’re losing money by having a high priced alpha, but its more important to us to honour our commitment to the existing community than to lower the price to get more money.”

He’s got a point. The anger of people who can’t read websites is nothing compared to what would have happened if Kickstarter backers had paid $US90 for access then Steam customers could suddenly waltz in for less.


    • ???? what rip off buissness of buying games are you in? $90 its pretty high even Aus standards, the only thing that is higher is live and psn digital games which exceed $100 (pfft fifa) when the retail version is way under

      • Jamie man, your memory that bad? It was only a year ago that new games were priced at $90+ at retail. Collectors editions up to $150. Only when a politician did some inquiries did we miraculously get lower prices that are equal to American prices… Apparently on steam they still charge us more than the US prices but i’m not sure about this…

      • Pretty much EVERY new AAA game released on Steam is $90. There are sometimes a handful of $60-$80 exceptions from publishers which don’t match retail. Worst offenders: Activision, Take2, EA, Sega, Ubisoft. Also, Bruce Gosk you weren’t wrong. Just check out:

        This is nothing new to Australians. If anything I’m surprised we’re getting charged the US price.

  • Hah! AU has had games over $90USD for a very long time now. Most of the CoD series have been $99.95USD on release (though it seems they’re only doing $89.95 now).

    Having said that, $90 for an alpha does seem fairly high… But the point remains; if people don’t want it, don’t pay for it.

    • The point is, the game is an early access Alpha build. They have every reason to be angry, if they wanted to uphold their commitment to their Kickstarters, then why fucking release it on Steam?!!?

      • Most gamers like Steam because all their games are consolidated in an easy-to-access place, not to mention that they are still offering this deal to get involved with the development, and they get more publicity on Steam.

      • They have NO reason to be angry – they have paid nothing, lost nothing, and are in no different a position than if they hadn’t offered it on steam at all. Just some people are whiney little spoilt b*tches who think they are entitled to everything , for nothing.

  • Looks pretty. Definitely grab it when it hits retail. But I’m not in a rush to play it now.

    Oh and it’s good to see that gamers are able to read and understand at better than a 2nd grade level (sic).

  • entitled gamers alert.

    i’m one of those backers that is making this $90, and i’d be extremely pissed off if they sold the alpha for less. maybe $50 i’d accept, but it shouldn’t be cheap, i paid $100 just because i wanted alpha access

    • Exactly, you paid extra money for something that was supposed to be for Kickstarters. Now they have released it to the wider community with a higher than normal price tag.

      They have got themselves quite a bit of bad PR for this, when the game finally goes retail a lot of people won’t want to buy it.

      They should have NOT released it to Steam at all, and left it as an additional feature for Kickstarters only, like it was originally intended.

      • If they can get extra money by offering the same option Kickstarters had, then good for them.

        More people playing and buying is a good thing, not a bad thing. If no-one’s getting a better deal, why do you care? New buyers are only getting the Alpha access. You didn’t pay for exclusivity, you paid for early access, and a way of letting people get in on a good thing if they missed the kickstarter without paying less than the kickstarters did. No-one should be upset about this, no-one’s being disadvantaged.

        • Really? That’s such bullshit haha. I definitely wouldn’t waste my money on the alpha then.

          I’d just wait a few more months…….

      • 1) there is no such thing as bad publicity
        2) who the hell are you to tell a developer what they should do – just because you have you little girl panties in a twist because you cant get something for free doesn’t mean it is wrong. They have done EXACTLY the right thing – enabled ongoing development on the game without pissing on the loyal backers who have been there for them from the start. If anything their mistake is they should have charged MORE to honour their backers! Not allowing any more contributions at all would have reduced the quality of the game backers received so would have been stupid too.
        Get the hell over yourself and wake up to economic reality – games arent made in a fantasy world where coders live on rat packs scattered round the landscape. Some (most!) things just arent about you!

  • they have a point on this, but it aint that bad, look at marvel heroes, free to play game, $80+ for a single bit of DLC

    • Exactly. If you don’t like the price, as always vote with your wallet. If it really is too high then they will have no choice but to bring the price down. I fully expect it to get cheaper and cheaper until the full version is released.

  • Hahaha. Just yesterday I saw it front page on Steam. “$90!?” I thought, “Planetary Annihilation, I thought you were one of the good guys. Why would you give us the Australian tax?” Then I decided to see what the yanks were paying. $90! Then I actually read the darn blurb explaining why it costs so much.

    I paid $40 for 2 CD keys, so I’m good. No alpha though, but I guess I can wait. I GUESS.

    • heh same, the moment i saw that the yanks were also paying 90USD i went and read the article on PC gamer and it made sense to me and you basically get everything that the kickstarter backers get as well
      Havent got it yet, still umming and ahhing about it

    • Hah yeah. I paid for beta access through kickstarter instead of alpha, but seeing it there on Steam made me SO TEMPTED to get a second copy.

      Because it’s just sitting there. In my face. Being all, “Hey. Hey. You wanna play this? I know you wanna play this. You can, you know. Go on. Do it. …Do it. You can give your other copy to a friend. Share the love. You’d be doing them a service. You can play early AND be a generous person. Win/win.”


      • I am in the exact same situation, I thought about doing all of the above but decided that $90 wasn’t worth it. Considering I will get the next stage of early access.

  • Even if its ‘okay’, they’ve shot themselves in the foot, and unfortunately they probably won’t be able to do that well. Disappointing.

  • So happy to see that there are at least a few people out there who understand and dont complain about the pricing. I also find it extremely annoying that people are abusing metacritic because of the alpha price. Why the heck is there a metacritic page for it anyway. The games still in extremely early alpha.

  • This game should NOT have been released to Steam. Especially if it’s only an ALPHA build. Like wtf seriously, you don’t charge customers to test your game for you, that’s SO freakin dodgey. The alpha was supposed to be an added benefit for people who supported their kickstarter after a certain amount, not something you can just buy.

    Everyone who buys the game for the $90 on Steam better get the exact same benefits as the people who paid $90 on Kickstarter, otherwise you are just fucking yourself over before the game is even released.

    • But people DO get the same benefits. It’s equal to galactic edition so you’ll get a bunch of added stuff. It even says so on the steam page.

      “June through August: $90 for early alpha access, during the time where we’re still locking down features and making tweaks to the flow of the game. This access is permanent access – you will be able to play through alpha, beta and on through retail. (Galactic Edition Equivalent with all addons)”

      People should have read the page and I have a hard time believing anyone was suckered in to it. It’s clearly explained what it is and what you get.

      Also. You can buy in the Arma 3 Alpha right now and it has been plugged on the steam front page for some time now. I don’t recall any outrage about that.

    • You must REALLY hate the Steam Early Access site and all the money it has made for Greenlit independent developers who will consequently be more likely to succeed in launching their product because they can get paid while working on it, just as if they had a publisher bankrolling them.

      Look, caveta emptor, live and let live. If people wanna gamble on an unreleased product for an inferior, in-development experience, let them. Just like the Kickstarter backers get. It’s no different.

      • No not at all. What I meant was, they offered the Alpha as a special thing for Kickstarters, then released it on steam and said “Oh, well we want to release it on steam as well, so the Kickstarter people aren’t the only ones to get it”

        I know it makes a lot of sense, but it seems unfair to the Kickstarter people if you ask me.

  • I guess my only real concern is the precedent it sets. Once upon a time, alpha/beta testing was a job people got paid for (and by all accounts it was a brutal and otherwise thankless job), then as the market grew someone realised that there’s plenty of people who will test your game for free, given the right spin. Now we are seeing the beginnings of the next step, consumers paying developers for a chance to test.

    I understand maintaining parity between the Kickstarter and the early access, but it still seems a little backwards to me.

    • There will always be a place for true QA, because folks paying for early access are horribly unreliable, inferior testers. ‘Tester’ is barely the right word for them – that’s just lipstick on the pig which is ‘early revenue’.

    • That’s pretty much the idea. Many of the guys who are working on this also worked on Supreme Commander and its spiritual predecessor Total Annihilation.

        • Awh. That’s a shame. I loved it. That said, the scale of PA seems entirely different. Zooming out to incredible levels. It’s more like SC2 than 1, from what I understand, but with the option of multiple planets – galactic war. So the ‘map’ is more like a system/galaxy, and you can rig your AI up to handle a planet if it’s contested, if you manage to get that kind of late game.

          And if you manage to dominate planets, use them to smash into other planets? Such an unknown quantity here really. Can’t wait to see how it actually pans out.

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