Valve’s Steam Early Access warning: “some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game”

Steam Early Access, explained as well as it possibly can be.

Valve have added a new paragraph to their Steam Early Access FAQ following a rash of complaints about unfinished games and their developers.

In portentous tone, Valve now tell would-be players that deadlines for final release are likely to slip, and that some Early Access games will never be completed at all.

Under a heading titled ‘When will these games release?’, Valve say it’s up to the developer to “determine when they are ready”.

“Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses,” they write.

“You should be aware that some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.”

This is information intended for future Early Access buyers to prevent misunderstanding and upset when games inevitably don’t wind up exactly as their creators intended them.

But it’s also a clear statement to those who’ve been burned in the past: when you buy an Early Access game, you are buying only the game as it exists at that point. You are not entitled to future updates – no matter what the developers might have promised you.

It’s a hand-washy sentiment – a disavowal of the curative role Valve have occupied for a decade but are determined to leave behind.

In practice, the Steam owners have been rather more hands on – stepping in to offer full refunds for wronged players of Earth: Year 2066. But it’s unclear whether they’ll be prepared to do the same again – and it’s only been a day since Air Control provided a compelling argument for why Steam still needs curation.

What do you think Early Access needs?

Thanks, Eurogamer.