Valve has launched their latest feature, Early Access, which will allow gamers to play the pre-release alpha and beta versions of games before they hit the market.
Perhaps inspired by the recent rise of crowd funding for game development, Valve has come up with a new way for the community to help make better games: Large scale alpha and beta testing. Through their new Early Access feature, you can gain access to select games while in development, giving you both a first hand look at how the game development process evolves over time, and giving the developers much needed feedback and bug-hunting.
"A lot of games are already operating as ongoing services that grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and the community," said Sean Pollman of Badland Studio, developers of the upcoming title Kinetic Void, which was featured on Steam's Greenlight service, "[...] now Steam Early Access will let us continue the development of our game while gathering crucial feedback, input and support from the steam Community."
Early Access, as it appears in Steam
Early Access features automatic game updates, facilitating a quick response between the development studio and feedback it receives. Community features are also included so that you can play against other people online, share screenshots, etc. For a quick rundown, here's a list of the first titles to make it onto Early Access:
• 1… 2… 3… KICK IT! (Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby)
• Arma 3
• Drunken Robot Pornography
• Gear Up
• Kerbal Space Program
• Kinetic Void
• Prison Architect
• Under the Ocean