Steam’s Early Access program has certainly been a positive tool for both gamers and developers. Games like Rust have shown that an active community with devs who listen can create great things, however, some devs seem to either abuse or neglect the system. Probably the most high profile example is that of Double Fine’s Spacebase DF-9 which after several months of sporadic updates was suddenly declared done despite not fulfilling everything in their dev plan. In an effort to make Early Access an even better system, Steam has recently revised some of its guidelines for games publishing under Early Access. The changes that have been made are:
“1. You must include Steam Early Access branding and information about the current state of your game on any third-party sites where you are distributing Steam keys for your Early Access game.
We work really hard to make sure that customers understand what they are buying when they get an Early Access title on Steam.
But we’ve seen that many of these titles are sold as keys on other websites where there is no explanation of what Early Access is or what the current state of your product is now versus what you hope to achieve. As a result, we are now requiring developer to include the Steam Early Access branding as well as information on the current state of your game and a link to the Steam Early Access FAQ on any site where you are selling Steam keys for your Early Access title. You should also include the Early Access questions that you answered when setting up your Steam page.
2. Do not make specific promises about future events.
For example, there is no way you can know exactly when the game will be finished, that the game will be finished, or that planned future additions will definitely happen.
Do not ask your customers to bet on the future of your game. Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realized.
3. Steam Early Access titles need to be available to customers through Steam.
If Valve is enabling your Early Access game we expect you to have the Early Access game available for sale on the Steam store. Do not offer it for sale on Steam any later than you offer it anywhere else.
4. Don’t overcharge Steam customers.
We expect Steam customers to get a price for the Early Access game no higher than they are offered on any other service or website. Please make sure that’s the case.”