Friday Dev Update: Why Early Access?

11:50 AM Will Sterling 1 Comments

Early access is a relatively new business model that has swept over the gaming industry in recent years. With the term "early access," comes lots of thoughts and questions about what that means for gaming. Is early access just a way for developers and publishers to get players to pay to test their game? Is it an appropriate way for independent companies to fund their development? Should every game be released as early access?

With all these questions and emotions surrounding the business model of early access we wanted to let you in on our thought process behind this model and why we decided to go the route of early access.

Funding

The primary reason we chose to release our game in early access was to fund the development of Salt. We worked on Salt for quite a while before releasing in early access, but at some point knew we would run out of money. We originally tossed around the idea of a kickstarter, but we quickly decided against that. We wanted to ensure that players got something for their money and not just a promise. And so we planned on getting our game to a playable state with a decent initial spread of content, and then we would release in early access.


The Demo

We knew going into it that players were hesitant to buy into early access games, and rightly so. There's no shortage of players getting burned from buying into games that never finish their development cycle. We knew that wasn't going to happen with our game, but how do you convince players of that? We love our game and would finish it no matter what, just because we are passionate about what we do. But we knew we needed a way to alleviate the fears that players have about early access.

This is the main reason we have a demo available for the game. We weren't trying to trick anyone or deceive players into thinking Salt was something it wasn't. So we decided to make a free demo that exposes players to some different aspects of the game and gives them an idea of what Salt is about. We always encourage players to try out the demo before they buy to see if Salt is the game for them.

Communication and Transparency

In addition to having a demo available, we also knew that constant communication and transparency with the player base was very important in relieving some of the early access fears. This is why we try to respond to players regarding every topic and we are open about our plans with Salt. We are active on social media, the Salt subreddit, and the Steam discussion forums. We want our players to know what is going on at Lavaboots Studios, what we plan on working on, and be able to ask any question they want and receive an answer.


Frequent Updates

We knew early on that Salt was going to be a game with updates. We want to constantly add content and features to Salt, and the idea of frequent updates is integral to this process. Different updates take different amounts of time depending on the content, but we try to push them out frequently and consistently. In addition to releasing the updates in a timely manner, we also try to communicate during the process of working on the updates, letting the players know how the progress is going and how close we are to completion.



So far early access has been a great model for Salt and we are happy that we chose that route. We will be consistently communicating with players and updating the demo and game through the development cycle. We are very thankful for all the players who have supported Salt with their money, suggestions, and feedback about the game.


- Will Sterling (Game Audio and Design)



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