How to fix Early Access

Early Access

Early Access is a Steam way to play an unfinished game. You can buy a game “in development” and play it at a price of a final product, sometimes with a little discount. And Early Access is broken. There is no doubt about it. I had better talk about solutions to make this system more consumer friendly.

Separation.
Red border or warning border around the game banner will be ok.
Currently all games with an Early Access tag in the Steam store have no visual difference from a completed game. There is only a little text “Early Access” somewhere in a tag list. It’s like “we warned you, but you had better not notice it, because we want you to buy it anyway”. It’s false advertising, buddy.

Obligations and sanctions.
It’s a straight forward way of saying “You are not gonna get away with your promises”. Games are not Politics. This is not ‘Nam. This is gaming. There are rules. If you are making a promise, give us a date and fixed scope. Yes, I am aware of risks, but I’m not going to believe anyone who just says bs without specifics. If you fail to make a game by a date with this scope, you will receive some sanctions. It’s an open question for a customer to decide what it’s going to be. Maybe refund?

Refunds.
Yes, it is. One-hour refund will be ok. I don’t know how fair the dev is with his promises. I should have an automated way of getting my money back. This is a digital world and this is only an hour of a game at stake. Give me a demo!

The Early Access is a good thing and has some right ideas behind it, but it is insanely unfriendly implemented. Customers should be safe from scam and lie. There is a store responsibility to make this clear.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Arena

Hearthstone

It looks like free-to-play digital collectible card games will be the trend of 2014. MTG is not doing well on the digital front, and people need something to rely on. That’s where Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft comes into play. Blizzards squeezed the best from offline collectible card games, added a bunch of unique online-only features and spiced it all with some decent visuals, and viola Hearthstone is a very popular even in the beta state.

One of the most interesting game modes is the Arena mode. Each session costs in-game gold or real money to play. For this price you can build a deck by choosing among the three cards until you pick 30. With this deck you face another arena player until you have three losses or twelve wins. Arena is pretty popular in Hearthstone, but will this formula work for all games? Let’s find out what Arena stands for, shall we.
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XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Characters progression

XCOM: Enemy Within

X-COM is a well known science fiction video game franchise. The latest game from a series is XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It is a well-rounded RPG with a great game design. You can literally get every aspect of the game design and analyze why this thing works so smoothly. I will discuss a squad team members progression here.

In this game you are in charge of a small squad of soldiers from different countries. Most of them arrive to a base as rookies. A rookie is a soldier without any class assigned, no specific abilities whatsoever. As soon as a rookie gets some kills he receives a random promotion to the one of 4 in game classes: Assault, Heavy, Support or Sniper. Each class basically determines the way you play with the character. During the course of the game all your soldiers gain promotions. Each promotion usually gives you 2 class specific perks to choose.

In general the text above describes the big picture behind the team progression. Let’s dig deeper and figure out why XCOM team members progression is so great, shall we?
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Beyond: Two Souls. Interactive movie as a game

Beyond: Two Souls

“Beyond: Two Souls” positions itself as a story driven game, but actually it is an interactive movie. You can guide your hero on a stage and make some minor and major decisions in a particular setting. Actually not a big amount of these decisions change the story of the game to a greater extent. However, this movie is still interesting to play. Let’s find out why, shall we?
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Payday 2. Player emotions

Screenshot from youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/MaskedGamer

Payday 2 is a game about robbery. You are playing for one of four guys who are doing their job for a payday. You can do a job for drug dialers, mafia, politicians end even Ukrainians. The most funniest thing about the game is that you can play it with friends.

I’m not going to talk about design and a technical side of the game, I’ll discuss emotions which I’ve experienced while playing this game. Bellow I’ve listed some of them:
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Zafehouse: Diaries. Characters relationships

Zafehouse: Diaries

Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our life because they are about everything. Everything in our life depends on relationships. All the things we are doing have relationship context. So why do we skip such a big part of our life in games? Why do we miss an opportunity to learn how the relationships work by means of games?

Let’s look at some more advanced cases of character relationships in games, shall we?.
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Plants vs Zombies 2. Monetization

Plants vs Zombies 2

Plants vs. Zombies 2 by CapCom is the sequel of the great strategy game for a casual player. And may be that’s the reason why iOS was chosen as a starting platform.

CapCom decided to use a free-to-play distribution model in this game. First time I heard this news I thought “Phew, another cashing and failed IP”. But I was wrong. PvZ 2 is an ideal game in terms of.. a game. Great mechanics, addictive gameplay, fantastic graphics – all this makes everyone love this game. But how do you monetize this kind of game?
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