Sony: 'Early Access' For PS4 Under Consideration

The introduction of Steam's Early Access system formalised the "open beta/alpha", a step that has had mixed results, from downright scams and "accidental" releases, to "breaking open the mystery" of games development. While predominantly a process PC gamers have come to live with, could something like Early Access work on consoles? We've heard Microsoft and Sony weigh in before, but it sounds like the latter is getting a lot more serious about it.

In an interview with Gamasutra's Kris Graft, Sony's developer and publisher relations VP Adam Boyes broached the subject (after a little prompting) with a surprisingly positive attitude. Although approaching the topic with some trepidation, Boyes mentions it is something the company talks about a great deal:

That's one of the massive conversations we have internally — that, at what point does [a game meet standards of release]? We still at some point ensure that we're being mindful of the consumer. We don't want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience.

As for any hard plans, Boyes again was coy, but from the sounds of things the idea is gathering momentum — it's just a matter of how best to go about it:

Honestly, we're working through that right now. We're figuring out what's ok. We obviously have our tech requirement checklist that people have to adhere to. So we're internally discussing, what does that list look like this? What are the caveats? Stuff like this. So it's still a project that a lot of minds are considering. No details yet, but it's something on the top of my mind every day.

Q&A: The latest on PlayStation dev relations, with Sony's Adam Boyes [Gamasutra]


    Oh goody. An excuse for even more developers to release unfinished, broken games under the "Early Access" banner, and then disappear once they get their money.

    I need a new hobby.

    Broken games for everyone!!! :P Jokes aside, I don't mind the whole early access thing - some games seem to sneak on that are VERY early and some seem to drag ass - so there are pit-falls to the practise.

    Early access is a big ol pile of shit imo, i wish there was a way to remove or hide them from the front page of steam.

    They'd need to cut back on the level of QA required for early access builds (both in terms of time and money), or it wouldn't be worth it.

    One problem there is that console DRM seems to rely on the games being somewhat trusted (see all the exploits that have been caused by bugs in save game parsing, for instances). So they'd probably need to beef up the sandboxing of games so they can safely push out software with less vetting.

    Nah thanks. Playstation needs to focus on getting the big games out. I didn't buy a new console to play games that were achievable two generations ago.

    This endless stream of indies, 80% of which are derivative and samey, needs to stop. Mission accomplished everyone, you've become the very thing you were initially fighting against.

    I wouldn't mind a beta channel, where "beta" means everything is implemented and all systems are in place, it just needs to be tested amongst a large audience for both fun factor and to ensure performance issues and unaccounted for bugs are found. Anything less should just stay away from public distribution.

    Has anyone looked at the Aus PSN Store on their Vita? Even the PS3 lacks those things that were once pretty standard, I think they were called 'demos'? I wish Sony would talk about offering more demos rather than Early Access.

    This could work very well.
    Steam Early Access is a good idea, but it was implemented in a way that allows people to take your money, then dissapear and get overflooded with crap.

    What Sony need to do is get Early Access up and running cause it is a brilliant idea, except Sony needs to heavily keep their eye on it.
    When Developers get their game on Steam Early Access, Sony needs to make sure they are Developers who will finish their game and get them to sign a contract that the game will be finished or something on those lines.
    Then Sony needs to be in constant contact with the developers to make sure they are using the Money to further improve the game and that they are working to improve the game.
    Then most important, Sony NEEDS to make sure early access doesnt get flooded with crap, cause its by far the worst thing about Steam Early Access. You have to go through so much crap to find a good game.

    If one company can make it work properly and fairly for the consumer, that would be Sony. They are treating Consumers extremely well and fairly this Generation again, so I expect with this PSN Early Access idea, if its implemented, will put the Customer first and Developers Second, which seems to be Sony's motto for this Console Generation.

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