Steam Early Access allows developers to sell incomplete games to players, and then use that revenue to help built the game into a complete, final product. But this approach is wrong according to Jesse Rapczak, co-founder of Studio Wildcard. The ARK: Survival Evolved developer has seen massive success with Early Access, but Rapczak claims that funding was not the key reason behind using the system.
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Talking to GamesIndustry.biz, Rapczak explained that using the Early Access release model was so Studio Wildcard could gain as much feedback as possible. “It can really provide a way for a developer to put out a game that is relatively ready to be in a state of iteration, to improve that game and be confident that when the game's finished, it'll be something the players love and have a lot of feedback in creating,” he said.
"You're not waiting until launch to find out problems you might have with your design or balancing or things like that. By the time we hit our launch across all platforms, we feel like the game is really going to have been put through its paces."
Rapczak believes that if developers continue to see Early Access as a revenue source the system will fall into collapse. “If many games look at it that way and lots of games don't ship or fail to come to market, this model is going to go away," he said.