When You Take A Player's Money, That Player Wants Some Fun In Return

When You Take A Player's Money, That Player Wants Some Fun In Return

When a developer opens up their game for testing, they see it as a chance to test things. When a consumer gets into a game for "testing", they often see it as a chance to play that game early.

There are a number of problems with this disparity, which will only grow larger the more games begin to turn to the "early access" model of development, where fans can pay to get early builds of a game long before it's actually finished. Case in point: DayZ, where developers Bohemia have basically had to issue a "like it or leave it (for now)" ultimatum to early access customers who won't stop complaining about the state of the game.

Posting in a thread called "Has Anyone Else lost Faith in Dayz?" (via PC Gamer), in which people who have paid for early access to the still-in-development standalone version of the popular mod complain about the rough state of the project, producer Brian Hicks writes:

You are not playing DayZ, you are playing development builds. Early development builds.

DayZ is 11 months into principle development, on what should be a 3 year standard development cycle. I can't force you to be a fan of DayZ, but I can call this out:

Defining or judging what DayZ is by a build so early in its development is much a kin to judging a painting within the first few brush strokes. Hell, even Bob Ross's paintings didn't look great for the first few minutes (until you realised what it was he was making).

I can promise you none of your favourite AAA games played, or even resembled the final product that early in their cycles. (OK, maybe some of the larger titles that push small incremental updates out every 12 months - but we all know those are special snowflakes)

Take a break, and come back in beta or even the full release. The Early Access period of development will have many peaks and low, low valleys. This is the nature of software development. Yes, it is stressful as heck - for all of us, but you get to be part of shaping the DayZ experience.

For me, its worth it - for some of you, it might not be. No one can fault you for that. :)

He has a point. DayZ is nowhere near finished, that's been disclosed, and people need to realise they're now part of the development process, not just a consumer of a final product.

And yet...you can put all the notices and warnings on an early access game all you want, but once you start taking people's money, you're taking on their expectations, however unfair they may be. From the player's perspective, however much goodwill there is behind their decision to give you money at this stage in a game's life, there's going to be an even greater desire to get hold of something fun and functional.

Early Access may be a viable funding model for some developers, but the more it spreads to more projects and more studios, the more it's going to run into issues like those facing DayZ at the moment.

If both sides of the coin have a point, maybe the answer isn't to decide which one is "right". Maybe it's time to get a different coin.


Comments

    I guess when you have sold over two million copies before the game is out, and it has been nearly a year since you started taking money, that people will start to expect the thing to at least be moving into 'beta' stage.

    Early access is difficult, game development is long and tricky and full of pitfalls, so you shouldn't put money in if you expect to get anything out of it other than getting an early look at a game, that may or may not get finished.
    I'm okay with that, especially when the entry price is less than the final cost of the game, it is worth it to me just out of curiosity sake, and you get quite a few hours of fun and frustration along the way.

    What I really don't like is things like Elite Dangerous charging WAY more than the final retail price for early access, that just feels like gouging and then, yeah, it had better be a whole lot of fun...

      Of course the issue here, is that 'beta' is simply a catchcry that most people don't even understand. Do they even understand WHAT a beta is?

      If DayZ were to enter Beta right now, it would be incomplete and remain that way. It's in Alpha. It's having content released constantly and fairly regularly (1 large patch a month roughly, sometimes 2). Rust has daily micro patches (reeeeeally micro) however when added up over a month they add up to about what DayZ gives you once a month.

      Early access IS difficult but DayZ can NOT be faulted for this. It's not as if there are not enough warnings:

      A.) Before you buy it smattered all over the steam store page.
      B.) When you purchase it.
      C.) In the review area.
      D.) When you boot the game up.
      E.) When you're sitting on the title screen.

      When one compares the state of DayZ last december to right now, it's frankly night and day(z). Now, it's fun. It's highly functional, there's a lot to do. Infact on the forums, over 70 percent (a made up stat but a true indicator) of the whining is that there are no vehicles at the moment. However there ARE around twenty plus types of guns. All with their own ammo, dozens of types of clothing, food, animals, ability to hunt, fish, farm, restrain people, kill them, and do basically ANYTHING.

      In the next patch vehicle parts will appear, leading to vehicles as the rumour suggests in .50 (the roadmap for DayZ has been incredibly accurate thus far).

      So has anyone lost faith in DayZ?

      Only those:

      a. With the attention span of a gnat.
      and
      b. Unable to read the bloody description of what they were purchasing when they bought the game.

        Bang on the money. I bought the Alpha, played it for a week, put it down, picked it up again 2 months later, marveled at all the new things to do, rinse and repeat.

          Same here. Bohemia have always been very clear about what to expect from the DayZ alpha, and I'm yet to be disappointed. Devs are great about taking feedback from alpha testers too, so it's just going to make for an even better game once they reach a retail release.

      Actually I think what Elite is doing makes the most sense. Having a premium to get alpha/beta means that you are only getting people with either money to burn or a genuine interest in the game. Makes it much easier as a developer to get feedback that isn't just "WARE R TE VEICLES!!!11!!!"

    Maybe a lot of people assume the game must be nearly done by the time it gets a playable release on early access. It doesn't help that a lot of early access games don't have a visible release date estimate, or a progress tracker (beyond the blog-like updates for major patches).

    I actually think things like Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen are doing the right thing (perhaps not the most consumer-friendly way, but it certainly seems to work) - charge beyond what people would expect to pay for access to the development builds, to essentially become opt-in testers, to exclude the average consumer who just wants to get in a few days early.

    DayZ is the first early access game I have purchased, it will also be the last.

    On another note, when you back a Kickstarter or buy a early access game you are taking a gamble. So I think it's not entirely the developers fault if it doesn't satisfy the consumer.

    Last edited 11/09/14 3:45 pm

    *inserts alot of tears*

    Last edited 11/09/14 3:49 pm

      Troguel2 just proved how much of a idiot he is by Making a ridiculous, pointless comment that was the grammatical equivalent of an abortion wrapped up in an extra cheesy pizza.
      Now, fuck off.

      Last edited 11/09/14 3:56 pm

    We need a option to downvote and upvote articles :/

      After what you just typed I might just add the option to downvote comments.

        < non politically correct text here >

        Last edited 11/09/14 4:42 pm

          No, it's because i always call out snarky nerds who have a go at people doing their job so you can sit on your ass and not pay anything to read their work. That's why you remember me.

            How am i a snarky nerd? You are the one who complains about grammar.
            i have never seen a positive post from you.

            Last edited 11/09/14 6:05 pm

          Look at this guy, wants a pat on the head for being an assuming ass.

          The internet!

            Look at you, wanting a pat on the head for jumping on the bandwagon.

            Last edited 11/09/14 6:06 pm

              God watching this unfold is hilarious, it's like @Troguel2 is the last bastion of hope for trolls everywhere!

                If i wanted to troll i would be on 4chan.
                but please keep making assumptions.

                Last edited 11/09/14 7:19 pm

                  C'mon kids, let's play nice. 4chan, isn't he the rogue admin who released those jlaw celebrity nudes I heard about ? ;)

    If both sides of the coin have a point, maybe the answer isn't to decide which one is “right”. Maybe it’s time to get a different coin.
    Couldn't agree more.

    Taking money for something entitles that consumer to complain.It's irrelevant if it is in Beta or full game. Suck it up DayZ or stop taking peoples money.

    Last edited 11/09/14 5:23 pm

    I don't understand how people do not consider the fact that their expectations are not in line with what is advertised/listed.

    The issue is with companies taking money during early access and if the game is successful, the company become rich and the developers just stopped caring that much about the game. It is no longer, "we will work as hard as possible to deliver what you our vision" to "yeap I got your money now, we will take our time to make the game since money is not a problem anymore".

    So many companies are milking consumer this way and people are still falling for it due to consumer placing hope on indies.

    You can mark my words, DayZ will be complete due to the nature of the game being a "mod". It will constantly be in development because there is no actual game design and final product vision of the game. That is why the devs claimed DayZ to be the same development as Minecraft where it is constantly improving.

    It is just a game that will never complete. No clear goal and basically just bug fixing and adding functionality that was missing from the start.

    When the devs think they have most features in, BOOM beta, but still charging money from people. I give it 1 more year before DayZ is completely dead.

    When the AAAC's changes come in DayZ will be the first thing I get a refund on.

      I'm not trying to nitpick here but it's pretty unlikely that you will be able to get a refund.

      What the ACCC is trying to get happening are refunds for games that don't work as advertised.

      Due to the large amount of disclaimers and the "I Agree"/"I understand" button I'm assuming people had to click to become a beta tester there will be no recourse because they told you that the game would be broken and was not final.

      Merkin

    Trying to avoid Early Access now. A couple really good, solid games have been somewhat ruined for me by losing all the magic when they were feature-sparse, buggy pieces of crap. All my enthusiasm and excitement for the unknown got used up and wasted on the early blocking rehearsals instead of Opening Night.

    Some really high-quality products (like Warframe, Wasteland 2, Planetary Annihilation - JUST) survive me having seen them without their make-up on, but other titles really can't afford that.

    Weird seeing these early access companies failing at stating that they are in early access and in early development. I know they are showing it ingame and in the storepage, but they really do a bad job at making sure that the players they get while they are in early access actually are accepts it. Also the Dayz team's one way communication really isn't making it any better. I could probably mention a few early access games that do exactly this well..

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