Sony Discussing Early Access Program for PlayStation

The early access program on Steam caused a bit of a stir when it launched last year, and began an ongoing debate about paying for a product that isn’t finished (insert Battlefield 4 joke here). But even with the controversy, early access has done well on Steam, with pre-1.0 games often making their way on to the best selling charts.

Now it seems Sony are at least talking about a possible early access program for PlayStation. SCEA’s Adam Boyes had this to say about the idea in a recent interview with Gamasutra.

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That’s one of the massive conversations we have internally — that, at what point does [a game meet standards of release]? We still at some point ensure that we’re being mindful of the consumer. We don’t want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience.

I want to help bootstrap people, to bootstrap them, to help them out. Like supporting the underdog for a sports team.

With the popularity of open betas rising on consoles, it would seem that something similar to what Valve is doing with early access might fit on consoles, but the difference is that console gamers don’t pay money for a beta. And the betas we see on consoles are often in the very late stages of development and near completion anyway.

It also seems like delivering feedback via a console would be more difficult than on PC, where a support forum is just a click away and you have a keyboard at your disposal to articulate your thoughts. Whatever the results of these talks are, it’s certainly something that would have to be handled with extreme caution when advertising a game that’s available for purchase but isn’t finished. On the other hand, a program like this could lead to a better final product for everyone.

Any interest out there in seeing an early access program on PlayStation platforms?

Source: Gamasutra via GameSpot

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15 Comments

  1. I’m undecided on this sort of thing, on one hand it makes sense, then on another it seems ridiculous.

  2. Tbh I would be less likely to buy off psn if this happens. I wouldn’t like to have to ascertain if I’m buying a final game or paying to be a tester.

    • I’m sure they would be clearly indicated. Probably in their own section on the store.

  3. “It also seems like delivering feedback via a console would be more difficult than on PC, where a support forum is just a click away and you have a keyboard at your disposal to articulate your thoughts.”

    I don’t see that as being difficult at all. When I was a beta tester for SCEE, you usually provided feedback via a web form. If having to type in a URL is considered ‘difficult’ compared to clicking a link, well…

    • The point there (I think) being that it is a little cumbersome if you only have the console at your disposal with their somewhat restrictive text entry options.

      It can of course be done, but it isn’t the same as just pulling up another window on your PC & typing away on your keyboard.

      • I think it’s safe to assume that most people who would be interested in this stuff would also have a PC.

        Besides, judging by the number of people who bitch and moan every week in the PS blog comments, whatever method they use, it doesn’t seem to deter them from typing out an opinion! :-)

      • They need feedback like in LittleBigPlanet. You just select keywords from a list.

        Utter crap, brilliant, bouncy, moody, would not wipe bottom on, made me cry, made my poo, made me love-wee, made me breakfast, made me pregnant, etc.

        Done! *rings desk-bell* Next. :-)

      • I don’t have a PC.

        Then again, I am not really interested in paying for an unfinished product, so you may well have a point Paranoimia!

        Although, Mike has raised a good alternative as to how console only owners could get involved too.

        I would like to see a ‘Made me jizz’ category though.

      • Made me pregnant? You clearly played different version of LBP than I did. :-)

      • Matt – hahaha! Obviously a little more adult-oriented than the standard edition. :-P

  4. Ugh, paying for unfinished, unstable products? Count me out.

    Early demos and betas are one thing, at least they’re free.

    • Agreed. Steam has itself in a pickle. I definitely didn’t like seeing the Summer Sales containing so many Early Access titles charging (in)decent amounts of money for certain titles. Also, the quality of an unfinished game ranges from “oh, this is pretty close to finished” to “good god, this is an abomination… what have I let myself in for?”! :-\

      I feel like they need to cordon this area off so people know what they’re getting into. Please don’t litter the usual game areas with Early Access stuff.

  5. I like the idea. As long as it is cordoned off in its own area of the store. All the help bedroom devs get the better IMHO. I do understand some games will never be finished but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Roll it Sony.

  6. I was bootstrapped once, in Amsterdam. Quite painful and expensive. I’m sure that SCEA’s Adam Boyes is a nice chap but, I’m not going there again.

  7. Personally I have no interest in paying for unfinished products. Especially when I consider that there are more ‘finished’ games out there that have my interest than I can realistically ever get around to playing.

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