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Valve has tried and tested all the possible ways to develop a gaming community that helps them grow. If you are a steam enthusiast and want to try their upcoming client features, you can opt-in for the Steam beta client update, which would update your client to the latest beta release and not the stable release. With that enabled you get all the beta features which would be ported to the stable release in the coming few weeks. Not only it puts you in the beta release, but also upgrades your client to the next beta version whenever its pushed. Once the beta is over, your client automatically updates to the stable release. Pretty neat huh?!

steam early acess program

Now that is one steam client beta access anyone can opt-in for. There is no charge or any required expertise to try it. And that’s just the client update. Doesn’t change your gaming experience much but only changes your client experience. If the client beta access program doesn’t appeal you much, then here is something that would appeal you.

Valve has now introduced ‘Early Access’ program. In this program you can pre-order games that are being developed and rapidly updated by the developers as they build it. These games would have full community involvement who participate in this program. Valve started this program with 12 games, and as of now they have 8 games in the program.

This as a gamer point of view is good, if you are excited about some game and been waiting for its release or announcement for ages. You can now order the game under this program if it exists, play it as it develops, report issues, additions, suggestions, honest fan feedback to the developers. This way you get the game you wanted, developers can raise some money as it is being developed. Win-win for both the parties. Once the development is finished, the early access gamers get the full final game as its deemed “released”.

Is this the same as pre-purchasing a game?

No. Early Access is a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form.

This pre-order / early access order isn’t a new phenomenon, Minecraft was developed and sold at the same time. Right from the alpha release till the final build it was being simultaneously built and sold. This is just a very innovative way of crowdfunding for items which a customer wants. If you look at it in a different way, this pre-order system is much better than pre-ordering a game on amazon in which you have to wait till the final release and you get the game as everyone gets even the person who paid on the release date.
This pre-order method in the ‘Early Access’ not only gives you actual access to the game beforehand but also gives you a chance to try it, test it and help its development.

How do I get my game listed in Early Access?

We’re starting out with a handful of games and will be expanding it over time. If your game has already been Greenlit or you know your next game will be on Steam, then get in touch with your Valve release team and let us know of your plans and interest.

via Steam Early Access