Adam Boyes, VP of Developer and Publisher Relations for Sony America, revealed recently that Sony is considering an Early Access program for their latest console.
For PC gamers Early Access has become something of a household phrase when talking about games. Whether it be on Steam, GOG, or any of the numerous other digital distributors or self-published Indie studios, the once-foreign concept of purchasing a game while still in development and playing the game from alpha through to final release has become commonplace.
According to Adam Boyes, PS4 console owners might soon experience the same thing on Sony’s powerhouse console.
“We’re always looking at different ways to make life easier. There’s no stone unturned for what we can do,” Boyes said in a recently published E3 interview with gaming periodical Gamasutra. “We’re having conversations. We have a global strike team, plus an SCEA strike team, who are in charge of trying to figure out how to look at what’s happening with early alpha access, or paid betas — which we’ve allowed before with Dust 514. Even with our own product, PlayStation Now is going into open beta at the end of July. We’re always looking at ways to make it easier and more accessible.”
Boyes goes on to discuss some of Sony’s behind-the-scenes planning in more detail. He also shares some of his own experiences with Early Access as well.
“That’s the thing — we live in a different world. There are different types of people. There people who always back games, enjoy Kickstarters, try things that they know aren’t finished but are willing to help make better. I remember playing Rust and laughing hysterically. And there were some things that weren’t finished, but I had a ton of fun. It was super intense.”
Sony is right to be both excited for, and weary of, the concept of Early Access games on their PS4 console. While Dust 514 was a relative success on the PS3, Early Access games as a whole have a somewhat mixed reputation with gamers in terms of reliability. While granting early access to an in-development game has helped many independent developers gain revenues responsible for being able to either complete their games or improve them beyond their initial plans, there are just as many stories of early-access games that almost immediately fell into disrepute due to poor quality or failure to live up to development expectations. With the difference in demographics between gamers targeted by the PC gaming market and those who often buy consoles, such issues could reflect poorly on Sony and the PS4 should any titles they greenlight for the console fail to live up to expectations.
Will Early Access titles come to the PS4? It looks like plans for such are just one more item on the laundry list of programs and features Sony plans to bring to the console. Unlike with the games the program will support, though, it is unlikely that Sony will give us a taste of what’s to come until they feel it is completely ready.