RollerCoaster Tycoon World Swaps Out Full Release For Early Access Launch

The imagery of a rollercoaster is apt for the lengthy and at times troubled cycle that RollerCoaster Tycoon World's (RCTW) development has seen over the past few years. It's a cycle which has just taken another turn for the worse, with the game launching in Early Access this week — a week when the full product was supposed to be released.

The announcement was made over the weekend through Steam, with the developers saying the game will be made available on March 30. That date appears to be a global launch at this stage, meaning that Australians and New Zealanders should get access to the game first (something that doesn't happen particularly often).

But while being able to play the game earlier is a nice bonus, it comes as a surprise to those who pre-ordered expecting the full game to ship before the end of the quarter. "Thus, we are reaffirming our refund policy - we allow refunds up to March 31st 2016 to anyone that pre-ordered the game through or," the developers wrote on their Steam page.

Furthermore, there's no indication of when the full game might be released. According to Atari, they'll better know "our timeline for final release" as the Early Access development progresses — which is handy, because the Steam description says the game will stay in Early Access, Blizzard-esque, "until we all feel the game is ready to be shared with the world as a final product".

What's even more remarkable about this whole saga is the fact that you can buy a physical copy of RCTW in some countries. PC snapped a shot of the box from stores in Germany, although the front of the box doesn't have any indication that users are purchasing an Early Access product.

Support for Linux and SteamOS users has been delayed — "it needs more time," a developer posted. Commenters are also concerned that about the game being abandoned during Early Access if it doesn't get enough sales, a worry buoyed by the US$49.99 asking price.

I've fired off some questions to Atari's PR about the announcement and I'll keep you posted if I get any updates. On the surface of it, however, it seems like the most reasonable move that the developers could take.

If the game wasn't truly ready, launching an unfinished build through Early Access makes a lot more sense than yet another delay. RCTW has been pushed back enough already, with the current RCTW developers (of which there have been 3) already missing their earlier target to ship late last year. Some fans will also be pleased at being able to play any form of the game now though, even if it's not the full product they were hoping for.

But it's not a good look, especially when fans on forums are already raving about the state of Planet Coaster and the crowdfunded Parkitect, RCTW's two main rivals. It's also a massive red flag to any gamer who has purchased an Early Access title only to be left disappointed at the end, as was the case with Towns!, StarDrive and Spacebase: DF-9.


    Guess they had to make the deadline. By at least releasing it as early access, they admit that the product is going to undergo more development.

    Planet Coaster, here I come!

      Yep, on the weekend I saw something about RCTW so I hit youtube for vids. Just based on visuals it looks.... "ok", kind of like a screamride look.

      I saw some Planet Coaster vids and initially hated the idea of not getting RCTW. I watched one video and was in awe of how awesome it looked. It "felt" right, kind of a perfect balance of the sims and a RCT game that's very sleek and modern. Watched a few videos and thought wow there's some competition.

      Went back and watched another RCTW video..... yeah it looks like a POS once you see Planet Coaster. Then I found out that Planet Coaster is made by the guys who did RCT3, so yeah it's pretty much a done deal for Planet Coaster for me. Seeing this article just solidifies any hint of doubt. I would be so annoyed getting an alpha for this to be drip fed the game until it's finally released, no thanks.

    considering the precedent set by the last game to bear the RCT name, and why the franchise was to be killed off after an unworthy successor, I now expect this title to remain noticeably unstable and incomplete until the second paid expansion pack

    The alpha footage I've seen for Planet Coaster blows this game away.

    THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!>................for Planet Coaster!

    And so it has come. The great doom of gamekind. No longer able to make good on projected deadlines, the floodgates begin to creak under the strain of the ever watchful eye of large publishers. Could this tactic bear fruit? Could one bait and switch an unfinished product's release and come out relatively unscathed? Time will tell.

    Obviously this is also being done as a response to the Planet Coaster alpha. And after playing it - I can see why. It's fantastic.

      How much did the pre-order/alpha access cost you after the conversion to AUD?

        I don't remember. But you are press - shouldn't they just provide you a pass?

          I haven't asked for one, was just curious. Also there are plenty of times where I'll purchase a game of my own volition.

          *edited because wow bad sentences were bad

    So, the guys creating Rollercoaster Tycoon World saw the beta footage of planet coaster and was like.. Crap, that game is so much better than ours. So they decided to release ASAP so people will pay and play their game while waiting for Planet Coaster.

    Its actually a great idea. This concept people will only play one or another is stupid. A lot of people will play both this way. Might even be tempted myself.

    For what Frontier is charging for early alpha access of Planet Coaster, I think I'll wait for when it is released. RCTW and Parkitect will keep me busy until then.. Instead of spending more than double the price of the pre-order, roughly $40 pre-order and $98 AUD for the "privilege" of early alpha access.

    Anyone else think it is odd how Kotaku has run several articles on RCTW, but none on Planet Coaster, and doesn't even mention Planet Coaster in very relevant articles like this one?

    Or does anyone actually believe that RCTW going early access a few days after Planet Coaster's alpha went live (and highlighted what crap RCTW is) is just a coincidence?

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