Early Access as an advance method of testing games before launch has been dealt with on NAG Online before. We’ve debated its merits in past podcast episodes, Chris wrote an article about it once, and we’ve all reported on games that have either failed to live up to expectations set forth in their early access period, or that have surpassed expectations (and the number of those games are very, very limited). Steam’s Greenlight and Early Access programs generally offered gamers a deeper view into the workings of game development, but these systems had their pros and cons. And, very recently, Electronic Arts has started to hop on to the same train starting with the open beta of Star Wars Battlefront.
The screenshot above appeared on the NAG Online Facebook group, posted by Jevon Johnson, in which he’s circled the Early Access part of the title. I’ve never ever seen an Origin game with this in its name, and searching for hits on possible developments inside EA to start an early access program yields no results. Near as I can tell, this is a brand new development. EA has never said a word about an early access program, and the only evidence of them leaning towards anything similar to this is on the Xbox One with EA Access, where subscribers can get up to two weeks of extra play time with certain games.
The question on my mind, though, is how does everyone feel about this? Generally the atmosphere around features similar to this for Valve usually ends up in gamers supporting the initiative, while the hate for Origin online is generally quite persistent despite all the good things it manages to do. Having the second-biggest game client on the net running their own early access program is something that I expect more people will be vocal about. Very little interest was taken in Microsoft’s announcement earlier this year that they’d do the same thing, but that’s also partially because no-one has any idea how that will work on the console market, while we already have a good idea of what happens with early access titles in the PC community.
Let us know in the comments how you feel about another company taking up the early access idea and running it for their own games. Does it matter that a AAA publisher will use it to make sure a game is properly shippable before launch? Do you dislike the fact that for a reduced fee, you get into the game early, but agree to be a lab rat for the developers while they’re bringing the game’s development cycle closer and closer to launch? Let us know. I’m genuinely interested to see what responses we get.