Early access could be a thing for PSN

News Aaron Birch
13 Jun 2014 - 14:07

Sony is considering a move into the early access market with its online service...

Love it, or hate it, early access is here to stay, and as long as people keep buying unfinished games, there will be developers and publishers keen to grab that easy money. This kind of profitability isn't limited to smaller developers and publishers, either, and even industry giants such as Sony are keen to dip into this goldmine.

According to a recent interview with Gamasutra, Sony is considering an early access program for PSN, spanning the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Vita. Vice president of developer and publisher relations at Sony Computer Entertainment America, Adam Boyes, told Gamasutra that early access is being considered in order to make things easier for developers.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned as to what we can do. We actually have a global strike team plus an SCEA strike team that’s in charge of looking at [possibilities] of early alpha access, and paid betas, which we’ve allowed before. We’re always looking for ways to make development more accessible, looking at the barrier of entry.”

Boyes is very mindful of the possible issues that come with an early access system, and although unfinished titles often manage to sell in great numbers on the likes of Steam, there are also big issues, perhaps demonstrated perfectly by the controversy surrounding the awful Earth: Year 2066. If put into action, Sony wants the end user to be aware of the situation with unfinished titles.

“We have to ensure that we’re being mindful of the consumer. You don’t want someone to stumble across [a game in alpha] and expect it to be finished, and have a negative experience.”

Now, you may shudder at the thought of an actual early access model working its way into console, and you may be right to do so. However, Boyes has stated that Sony would have a set of requirements developers would need to adhere to, something that Steam seems to be missing, with little to no quality control.

“We’re figuring out what is ok. And obviously we have the technical requirement checklist that people have to adhere to.”

Whether or not this would be a good thing remains to be seen. Early access is a Marmite situation for many. Whilst it obviously has its merits, there are also many downsides too. Games can be released in a woeful state, yet still charge for the so-called privilege, and a game could never even be finished (something Valve recently added to it's terms and conditions in the wake of the Earth: Year 2066 scandal).

As long as Sony enforces strict policies to prevent this, and ensures a certain level of quality, who knows? Maybe early access can work on a platform that has a singular hardware configuration and an active policing of content. We'll have to see what develops, and if the big name publishers would take Sony up on the service.


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