Of all the counter-intuitive statements one might hear in a typical day, “please don't buy my game” from a game developer has to be one of the strangest. But that's exactly what's going on with Dean Hall, creator of DayZ, who's actively telling people not to buy DayZ just yet. The reasons, oddly enough, make perfect sense.
Hall is expressing the belief that players should hold off a bit, let him and his team go through the game and fix some of the game's bugs, of which at last report there were several. But Hall also wants to add more features to the game, a development most anyone can get behind. So far, however, the argument has fallen largely on deaf ears, with over a million people since just December 16 shelling out for one of the very earliest versions of the game.
This development, featuring huge amounts of people buying a game that even the game's creator warned said people not to buy, led to Hall taking a closer look at the idea of the Steam
Early Access platform. Hall believes that Steam's new system, that allows game designers to put out games early, will provide something of a sea change in how games are made. Indeed, Steam Early Access is really just, in many ways, building on an effort started by “Minecraft
” creator Mojang, which in turn contributed to its success by many estimations. Now with many of the most popular games on Steam selling from the Early Access system, it's forcing Hall to reconsider the role of the Early Access portal in general.
But Hall's recommendation is hard to take. Users who buy the game now buy in at the $30 level, and future updates will come at no additional charge. But those who wait until the game is more polished, taking Hall's advice, will pay a higher price for waiting, and when the game reaches its final retail state, another price hike will likely go into effect. So waiting will ultimately cost players more...at least until the game should find itself involved in a Steam Sale
But here's the thing; even Hall realizes that the Early Access platform could be huge when it comes to getting game developers more position in the market. Indeed, paying more for earlier access allows developers to get in some of that much-needed cash before the game even goes to market. More cash on hand allows developers to bring out more of the stuff they'd wanted to into games but couldn't afford previously, and takes a little bit of the release-day pressure off. In fact, this may be the way to go for the Triple-A market as well. Start releasing alpha versions inexpensively, and then provide free upgrades along the way. Gamers get access to games well ahead of schedule and at a discount, and developers get to smooth out the cash flow from its current model of nothing / huge spike / nothing / smaller spike for the DLC. That's a big help for business like game developers and the kind of thing that could really help in the long run.
Gamers get more of a say in what games are developed, while game makers get a more regular cash flow. It's hard to deny the value of the Early Access platform, even as some game makers would rather players wait to get in on the action.