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Talkback Challenge #2: Early Access and Kickstarter

Four posts this week. The Newbie Blogger Initiative has sure gotten me on a roll when it comes to blogging. I’m going to finish off this week with the latest Talkback Challenge: Early Access and Kickstarter – Do you support unfinished games?

The short answer would be “sometimes”.  I will say that I’ve never backed a game on Kickstarter, not for lack of wanting but because I usually don’t learn about the game until after the Kickstarter has ended. (I’ve mentioned before that I’m often out of the loop.) As a result, the majority of the games I have backed were Early Access games on Steam that were already in the alpha or beta phase.

Making your own helicopter is fun!
Making your own helicopter is fun!

Many of those Early Access games were some combination of sandbox/building/crafting/survival games because I quite enjoy that type and they’re the sort where you can have a playable game while new features are still being added. Among them are:

  • FarSky
  • Folk Tale
  • Gnomoria
  • Godus
  • Kenshi
  • Life is Feudal
  • Maia
  • Planet Explorers
  • Space Engineers
  • Spacebase DF-9
  • Starbound
  • StarForge
  • TUG
  • Under the Ocean
  • 7 Days to Die
  • The Forest
  • Project Zomboid
  • Don’t Starve
  • Salt
  • Wild Season
  • The Long Dark

I bought Minecraft back when it was still in beta so that would make it the very first unfinished game that I supported, and it just snowballed from there.

One of the things I prefer about Steam Early Access games is that users can still rate them so you have a little more information than you would otherwise. Some of the reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially the ones complaining about bugs. Bugs are inevitable in the alpha/beta stages of a game so I don’t expect to have a polished game right off the bat.

So how has it turned out for me so far? I’d say pretty good overall. There are certainly some developers that took the money and pushed out an unfinished product such as StarForge and Spacebase DF-9. TUG and Under the Ocean have both struggled with losing funding or developers leaving/needing to be laid off. And some of the games like Don’t Starve and Kenshi just turned out not to be my cup of tea. But then there’s Planet Explorers and Gnomoria which has already given me hours of great entertainment. Maia, The Long Dark, and 7 Days to Die show wonderful potential and are already pretty fun to play. And there are some I haven’t even had the time to play properly.

Even a Long Dark night can be beautiful.
Even a Long Dark night can be beautiful.

It’s been a learning process though. I am now more careful to read descriptions thoroughly and watch player videos to get more of a handle on a game’s features. I’m not bitter about the games that were completed but didn’t turn out to my liking. That’s no fault of the game, just me not doing enough research. And while Code }{atch (StarForge) and Double Fine (Spacebase DF-9) have gotten away with my money, I can assure you that their reputation is shot in my eyes and I won’t be buying any more games from them.

I still support indie studios and their games though. They have some of the most wonderful ideas and can fill a niche market that didn’t even exist before. I can also afford to spend $15-20 here and there on the chance that I might be rewarded a great game. If I do end up wasting money, I think of it as the equivalent of ordering something new at a restaurant and finding out that it wasn’t what I expected or I didn’t like it. Besides, it still has better odds than gambling.

7 comments

  1. So many games I own as well haha, and it’s great to support these games I enjoy. Plus you just don’t find games like this from the bigger publishers which makes me really glad that there are some out there making them.

    And yeh, with those companies I too will forever be avoiding them from now on which is a shame when it comes to double fine as I’ve loved their previous titles but lately they seem to have lost their way.

    1. Agreed, smaller studios are perfect for making niche games that just wouldn’t make sense for a larger publisher/market. It also feels like they have a closer connection with their gamers since they rely on those people for their funding.
      Unfortunately, Spacebase DF-9 was my first Double Fine game so it didn’t give me a good first impression.

  2. Ok, trying again. Hoping to finally get one to go through!

    Basically what I had said was that I saw you listed owning The Forest, but then didn’t comment on it further. I was curious what you thought of that one in particular. I bought it when it first became available on Steam (about a year ago) and have enjoyed watching it improve. I still won’t put too much time into it though, because I don’t want to be burned out by the time it actually releases.

    1. The Forest is one of those games that I haven’t played much of yet. Mostly because I wanted to do the peaceful mode on solo and fight the mutants on co-op. I thought the peaceful mode wasn’t ready yet but I just found out that if you type “veganmode” on the main menu, it’ll switch to peaceful mode. So this might be something I’ll have to play more this weekend!

  3. I’m enjoying Space Engineers a ton right now, just wish they would patch in some better piston and rotators physics as I want me a cool (and working) ramp for my small ships without them flying off.
    I didn’t play The Forest or Don’t Starve, but I liked watching those as Let’s Plays.
    OOO, I should check back on Starbound, haven’t been on there in a while.
    Glad to see you are also enjoying these early access and kickstarter games (mostly).

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