Xbox One Devs Asking for Early Access-Style Program

ID@Xbox head Chris Charla says, "It's something developers have been asking for, and we are listening really closely to developers."

Not long after we learned that Sony was considering introducing an Early Access-style program for PlayStation 4 that would allow creators to release in-development versions of their games, Microsoft now says this is something Xbox One developers want, too. In a new interview with Develop, ID@Xbox head Chris Charla says developers have come to Charla asking for such a program.

"When we talk about Early Access, it typically means a game that you buy and it evolves over time to become 1.0, so you're buying it before it's 1.0," Charla said. "Minecraft on PC is a perfect example. It's something developers have been asking for, and we are listening really closely to developers, but I don't have anything to announce on that right now."

Though Early Access-style programs are not yet available for Xbox One or PS4, gamers on those systems have been able to play in-development versions of upcoming games. Sony offered a Destiny alpha to PlayStation 4 owners last month, while a beta for the game will be available beginning this week (and it's coming to Xbox, too). In addition, there was a Battlefield Hardline beta on PS4 (coming to all platforms this fall), and Halo 5: Guardians will get a beta on Xbox One starting in December.

Steam's Early Access program, however, is perhaps most associated with indie titles, not the kind of AAA games mentioned above. On Steam, some Early Access games from smaller studios, released as "alpha versions," have been criticized for being unfinished or broken. Microsoft no doubt wants to preserve the integrity of the overall player experience, and this issue is something Charla said Microsoft is taking under consideration as it thinks about its own potential Early Access program.

"It's a really interesting issue with digital marketplaces, and it's something our store and marketplace team think about all the time," Charla said. "There's a lot of heavy deep thinkers, experts, PhDs working on these problems at Xbox every day--not just for the Xbox store, but for Windows Store and Windows Phone. Our goal is to have a rational marketplace, where good games are visible and sell well."

Would you like to see an Early Access-style program for Xbox One some day? Let us know in the comments below!

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

60 comments
oflow
oflow

Do it just limit the cost to $10

Stepn2myworld
Stepn2myworld

Steam, and now Sony and Microsoft developers both want a similar program, getting paid for a game that is unfinished. This is an upsetting trend that I truly hope becomes extinct in good time. 

It is funny as I have learned many video game lessons the hard way. Buying games before they are reviewed in mass, pre-ordering games, buying a game at release when the developer has already announced future DLC (instead of just waiting for the complete edition) and like. Early Access is the one program I won't have learn from. I will never purposely buy an unfinished product - EVER.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

I've played broken alphas. Charging money for access to those games would've been criminal. Many 1.0 games now are buggy messes. Early access sounds like a terrible idea.

drysprocket
drysprocket

Early access is a plague. To all of you who had a good experience doing one, and think it's fine- you're forgetting that for every good example of this, there are dozens that all but steal money from gamers and never deliver. Please look at the bigger picture here and stop supporting this. 

Games were always free to test before release and often times even incentivized to test an early build. For this to be turned around and ask us to pay is insane. You're being taken advantage of...and a lot of you seem to like it. It's gamer stockholm syndrome.

neowarrior793
neowarrior793

why bitch about it, i like playing my games before other people then add onto the games with my own input. 

crujoness
crujoness

I don't understand why people hate this so much. Early Access doesn't appeal to me, but it does to some. Where there is demand, there will be supply. 

deathstream
deathstream

I despise the practice, but with Steam and PS4 doing it they may feel like they have no choice.  Their DRM was better for consumers in the long run, too, but they had to revert to antiquated DRM  to appease the mindless masses.

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

Early Access... The new gaming pandemic... First DLC, then exclusive content, followed by Micro-transactions and now this... I can't participate in 'Early Access' models and I sure hope no one else does so we can see this phase just slip away (if it happens)

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Oh I bet. The developers will take any chance to squeeze a bit of extra juice out of us before they fully commit. Why not ask the gamers instead? I bet you get quite a different answer.

I've bought one Early Access game, Viscera Cleanup, I won't be buying another. If I want to help beta test games I'll sign up to do so. I sure as hell won't pay to do it.

kane6911
kane6911

well the x1 staff listen we know that, if we all send messages to them and tell no to this they will not allow it. so people if you if want to make a better console and better games please start e-mailing the people over at the x1. we have gotten everything we have ask for so far. so let's not stop.

Barighm
Barighm

NO. NO. NO! Publishers already shaft us on the complete lack of polish games get these days. Now we're giving the indies a chance to sell stuff unfinished? Haven't these guys ever heard the reason why you never pay the contractor in advanced?

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Early access is crap.  Do not allow it.

WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

Won't happen. Not until their competitors do it, have it established, and get the ground work going. Then MS will swoop in and do a miserable job of it.


I am also not liking all of this early access stuff. It is bad enough when you buy a full game and its broken taking months for them to flesh it out. Allowing developers to actually sell unfinished games is a very bad idea. I get that it is popular but honestly has anyone seen an early access game finished? and if you go to their forum pages you will see people do nothing but complain. 



Redblaze27
Redblaze27

What sort of safety or refund system will be put in place to protect the consumer from paying for abandonware?

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

I, for one, am for this, instead of buying broken, unfinished games unknowingly, let's buy them knowingly. Why should the devs pay people to test their games when we can pay them to do it? There's just not enough abandoned projects out there anyway. And really, they can just stop updating it once it stops being profitable! Also, if you buy an early access game, you can get bored with it before it's even finished! What a wonderful idea.


Imagine if any other company did this, the gaming industry is the only industry where their allowed to sell decidedly unfinished products and we all buy it anyway. 

spectreSE7EN
spectreSE7EN

Haven't Sony and Microsoft been allowing this feature already?  Nearly every game comes with a day 1 update and is full of bugs, server issues, etc.  


Hey why not?  We need more buggy games released with even less day 1 features than ever before. What a great idea.

HaloinventedFPS
HaloinventedFPS

I said Consoles would get early access, didn't know it would be this quick though

Once again Valve innovating first, Sony & Microsoft steal their ideas & claim innovation, nothing new

mark_1313_13
mark_1313_13

Beta != Early Access. You don't get to keep the Beta and they usually only run for a week or something short.

wallacom
wallacom

Please NO! Don't follow the Pony.

Pewbert
Pewbert

In a boardroom near you ...

"So, guys, people have stopped pre-ordering our games since they have learnt that we actually lie in all of our trailers and conferences to hype the game up to be something it's not. We need a new shady method to get their money. Any ideas?"

"Yes boss. We can charge people to play our games which are still in alpha, call it "early access" because that sounds friendly, pretend we are listening to player feedback, and not even finish it if we think we have made enough money!"

"Great idea! You are going to be a chief exec one day."

Lord_of_Terrans
Lord_of_Terrans

I'll gladly take your money now for a complete game later.

bdrtfm
bdrtfm

So, alpha's and betas are now called "Early Access"? And, we're supposed to pay for this? With all the stuff devs are pulling these days, I think I see a lot less gaming in my future and a lot more fishing, archery, time at the gym etc.

Ashbfc
Ashbfc

and the gaming industry continues to get worse...

chiporeo
chiporeo

stupid Valve. . .now everyone thinks this junk is a great idea =/

oldtobie
oldtobie

Early-access is a plague.  Do not encourage this guys, please.  At least not early access with an intent on making a profit.  All early-accesses should be VERY cheap if not free, or showing of EXISTING content that can justify its CURRENT price.


Many many developers have taken advantage of the safety net of the consumers knowing the game is incomplete, using it to release their below-par games that otherwise would most likely fail entirely before seeing the light of day.  And if you somehow get the idea from this that helping developers by buying their early-access for a high price is doing good, you're mistaken.  They aren't releasing their games to early-access to get some feedback and reports of bugs, they're doing it so they can give up on their project quietly and still make money on it.  


Take a look at games like Interstellar Marines.  How long has it been since we've seen an update on that trainwreck?  And I was suckered into paying $25 for it with the promise of unique and interesting gameplay experiences, none of which the developer has or ever will come close to fulfilling.  I am definitely not making that mistake again.


I guess my main message is, if you are going to become a consumer in the market of early-access, caveat emptor to the max.  Make sure there is already a decent community following and good progress made by the developer.  Examples of successful early-accesses are games such as DayZ and Space Engineers.  Both of these games have demonstrated that AT THEIR CURRENT STATE, there is a reason to buy them.  They have made promises about the future of their title, but they don't try to justify their pricetag with them.  Keep that in mind, and be careful not to invent into games that are only at a certain price because of a "really cool concept" or some crap like that.

lonesamurai1
lonesamurai1

This is another bad idea for the console companies.

tgwenz
tgwenz

Air Control  coming to a console near you. Preorder for Early Access 19,99$ now!

saturatedbutter
saturatedbutter

Yo Microsoft, why won't you let me sell stuff that I haven't finished yet? That's bullshit. Give me what I want.

EcksTheory
EcksTheory

Because it's already being abused the same way that dlc gets abused. Some early access games are more than double the price of what it is for a finished game. On top of that, the amount of games that go unfinished is astounding.

Supply and demand is one thing, but allowing consumers enthusiasm to be abused for profit is another.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@Redblaze27 None. It is in the fine print for the game. It actually says this game isn't finished and may never be finished and that the game you are buying may change over time. They are fully covered I assure you. Unless the game is a straight p*ss take like that game on Steam which was barely even a game when they released it then they will give a global refund to everyone but not unless the game is outright robbery.

HaloinventedFPS
HaloinventedFPS

@spectreSE7EN most games today are released in a beta state because patching allows it, meet the deadline to please investors & pass on the cost of Q/A to the costumers, that's why


Early Access is different

WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

@HaloinventedFPS Innovation? Ha, this is literally the total opposite of innovating. Going from selling a fully produced product, to selling concepts, and tech demos. 

spectreSE7EN
spectreSE7EN

@HaloinventedFPS Where are they claiming innovation by allowing this feature?  They're just simply listening to what these developers want and are trying to be accommodating.  And since when is this a valve innovation anyway?  PC games have been doing this kind of thing for years long before Steam or Valve even existed. 

oldtobie
oldtobie

@chiporeo What do you mean?  Valve is perfect and Steam has never made a mistake and Gaben is literally God and consoles have nothing on PC!


Seriously though.  The thing consoles had over PC was the knowledge that what you're buying is a finished product with no extra crap to deal with.  The reason that makes consoles appealing, SIMPLICITY, is being stripped away.

bdrtfm
bdrtfm

@saturatedbutter  lol, imagine going to a restaurant and a waitress hands you a bun and some condiments and says "come back tomorrow and your beef patty should be ready."

EasyComeEasyGo
EasyComeEasyGo

I'll give you what you want.

(And it looks like somebody's been Banned again lol)

crujoness
crujoness

@EcksTheory  There are Terms that explain the possible future of early access games. There is a responsibility from both sides, but on this subject gamers tend to forget or easily dismiss that the responsibility goes both ways. Ultimately, the consumer is responsible for what he/she purchases, because no one is forced to buy these games. 

HaloinventedFPS
HaloinventedFPS

@spectreSE7EN @HaloinventedFPS Microsoft & Sony always steal ideas from the PC gaming space & take credit for it, they always call stealing idea's "innovation" 

& it is kind of a Valve thing, Valve have popularized it with Steam's early access 

crujoness
crujoness

@oldtobie The industry has been and will continue to get larger and more competitive. That breeds complexity in the purchasing experience by the consumer. While I don't necessarily like the added paywalls and such, I acknowledge that it cannot be like the days of the NES and SNES days. 

saturatedbutter
saturatedbutter

@bdrtfm Imagine they'd have you pay extra because you're getting access into the "development process" of your hamburger. "With your feedback, you get to shape and mold how we design your hamburger."

spectreSE7EN
spectreSE7EN

@HaloinventedFPS @spectreSE7EN Steam gave it a name...just saying PC has been doing this concept long before steam and long before Valve.  I'm a PC gamer from the early days going back to when you played games straight off the floppy disc...before most CPUs even had built in hard drives.  Yes, I'm old.  So if you're going to say it is a "Valve thing", then you're contradicting yourself by saying that Sony and MS are stealing ideas from Valve and claiming innovation, because this early access idea didn't come from Valve. 


But you miss my original point.  I asked you where in this article is Microsoft and Sony claiming innovation and trying to take credit for the early access program?  I don't see anywhere that either company is claiming credit for this.  The article just says that they are listening to what developers want.  They didn't come out and say "we thought of this great idea to allow developers to release early access to their games"  Developers went to them, because this is something THEY want.  How is that stealing ideas?  The developers have the idea because most of these developers are doing this on PC already and want that same freedom with console.