The Risk of Playing Early Access

Ironic I'm using a beta screenshot, isn't it?
Ironic I'm using a beta screenshot, isn't it?
Ironic I’m using a beta screenshot, isn’t it?

I’ve written about this subject in the past, but, as you can imagine searching for “beta”, “alpha”, or “early access” in our archive comes up with a few hits. What we’re discussing today is do you opt into early access of games? And if so, do you tend to stick around to play it after launch as well?

It will not surprise you that my email inbox has been flooded recently. PAX East, which we’ll be covering of course, being a scant few weekends away. What may surprise you is that many of the emails promise early access to the warez they’re hawking. Everything from various CCGs to console games to soda-drinking simulators want us to take their new build, beta, expansion or alpha demo for a spin. I’ve always been very cautious continuing down the rabbit hole outside of these conventions engagements. There are plenty of reasons why I should. Everything from reaping the free fun for paid-for games to being a part of an early adopting crowd. To me there are far more drawbacks.

Most obvious, it’s early access for a reason. If I jump in and really kick the tires of enough games I am bound to find broken features, unpopulated servers or dead queues. These tend to be the norm, not the exception. Then there’s the risk of burn out, killing the game for myself before the most of my friends have come to join me and may have helped stave off my own execution. I can go on with a few handfuls of rather minor reasons.

Let’s cut through the bull. It’s the the throne of disappointment. What could have been if I had simply waited for the finished product? We’re entering a world that’s only partially crafted. Stepping into an incomplete world as a lover of themepark and narrative-heavy MMORPGs with the intent of fully absorbing it strikes me as near sacrilege. A polished demo for E3 is completely different than X-Men Origins: Wolverine without its special effects. What? That wasn’t your favorite movie ever? Fine. Try imagine playing a beta version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds before Shikata and Aonuma gave it their final blessing. This is why, no matter how much my brain wanted to scratch that Titan Quest itch, I held off on firing up Grim Dawn until now.

Actually, first I’m going to distract myself with a little bit of Slither. No, it’s not a tie in to that Nathan Fillion movie. It’s a competitive version of Snake that I’m all too addicted to whenever I’ve five minutes.