Quote of the Day – If You’re Selling it, We’re Reviewing it

If I had paid money for H1Z1, I’d be pretty pissed off right now. Some players have already taken to demanding refunds. And I can’t blame them.

Polygon review of H1Z1

I laughed out loud when I saw that Polygon put up a review of H1Z1 on their site this morning.  But I have to admit that a review is a fitting response to Daybreak Game Company selling the game on Steam.  Not that Polygon hasn’t been on the H1Z1 beat already.

H1Z1Disaster

Yeah, yeah, cry me a river about that “Early Access” disclaimer.

I wouldn’t dream of endorsing a review of a product that was in alpha or beta and testing with volunteers.  But my view, and this is an opinion that I hold pretty strongly, is that once you are charging money and have a cash shop setup, trying to hide behind words like “Beta” (the long time Zynga ploy… do you want to be like Zynga?) or “Early Access” is a bullshit move.

The “Early Access” disclaimer has to compete with the pie-in-the-sky marketing vision about what the game might be some day way down the road when it is finished.

Tell me about H1Z1 please...

Tell me about the reality of H1Z1 please… I hear it isn’t actually an MMO

A “fully transparent” approach to game design would require the equivalent of “Warning: Lark’s Vomit” on the Steam store page and the SOE web site. (Since there is no Daybreak web site yet.)

And Daybreak Game Company is out there with not one but two early access events, with Landmark having mucked about in some sort of limbo for over a year at this point.  And to echo the quote at the top of the page, after my free time in Landmark I was pretty happy I didn’t pay any money for it.  And don’t get me started on the irony of a company whose motto is “Free to Play Your Way” and has a subscription program called “All Access” that doesn’t actually give you access to all of their games.

Yeah, I am on a bit of a rant here over what is probably a pretty small item in the grand scheme of things.  And it would certainly be fair game to ask how I reconcile this with Kickstarter campaigns and pre-orders and whatever other industry practices I don’t seem to take issue with that share some similarities with early access.  My primary goal in all things of late is the finished game, something I even mentioned in the earlier post about Crowfall.  I already have a day job in software development, I don’t need/want to keep fretting about code when I get home at night.

And who knows, the whole early access thing might work out.  I’m just not convinced right now that paid early access is a good thing for the industry, and it is Smed’s handiwork with Landmark and H1Z1 that has pushed me in that direction.

Anyway, cheers to Polygon for having a policy about reviewing early access games so people know what they are getting for their money.  How do you feel about that?

9 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – If You’re Selling it, We’re Reviewing it

  1. Talarian

    “I already have a day job in software development, I don’t need/want to keep fretting about code when I get home at night.”

    +1. I generally refuse to pay for Betas/Early Access largely for that reason. I’m often happy to do a little testing if you make it easy for me in return for a sneak peek, but pay them to perform work they should be paying *me* for? Hell to the no.

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  2. C. T. Murphy

    My favorite line is about how getting into Early Access will give you and other plays a greater say over how the game will develop. Typically, it just gives you private access to a forum where people rant and rave about everything before the game is even fully a game yet.

    Maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bhagpuss

    That knife cuts both ways though. For years, back when I used to apply for betas and play on Test servers, I took the whole thing rather seriously. I actively looked for bugs, did things I wasn’t particularly interested in just to make sure they worked, turned up and did as I was asked when a Dev or QA person asked for volunteers. I gave feedback using the in-game channels and official forums provided and above all I reported each and every bug I found as fully and accurately as I was able.

    In those real betas and genuine test environments I was no kind of customer and didn’t act like one. I was an unpaid assistant, glad of the chance to step behind the curtain and see how the tricks were done. In the later stages of development, the final closed beta or two before launch, that could be a lot of fun; earlier in the cycle, not so much.

    As time passed I became more cynical, more self-serving where betas were concerned. I arrived later and offered less. At the same time betas were morphing into marketing exercises I was changing from a working partner to a tourist and tyre-kicker. For that reason I don’t have so much of a problem with the current trend of paid “Early Access” from my point of view as a customer. I’m clear about what the offers are and what I would be buying. I assess it in just the same way that I assess any other purchase, because it is just like any other purchase. I’m know that I’m being offered an unfinished product that doesn’t work properly and if I choose to spend my money on it with that understanding then its because I have reasons of my own for doing so that I consider sufficient. n some ways it’s a more straightforward customer/seller relationship than the murky beta process ever was.

    So far that has happened precisely once, with Landmark, in circumstances I’ve recounted here before and won’t rehash. I got what I expected to get, it served exactly the purpose for which I bought it and I got my full money’s worth. I’ve looked at the Early Access/Founder’s Pack offers for a number of MMOs since then and decided I could perfectly well wait until launch.

    I see most of these packages as a reasonable deal for the informed customer for what they are. That part doesn’t bother me. What does is the damage the whole Early Access model may be doing to the genre, even to gaming itself. It’s fine for “informed customers” to assess each offer and open their wallets only when they are certain sure they know what they are getting into but what about all the Uninformed Customers? All the people who don’t read and write obsessively about games but who just happen to see a trailer or an advert that looks just the same as all the other trailers and adverts for games?

    How much damage does it do to a company’s reputation, taking money for a product that doesn’t work from people who didn’t read the small print when they bought in? Worse, are we potentially heading towards a gaming environment where companies don’t even feel they need to bother to finish, let alone polish, games because enough people will just pay for the draft version? Why make EQNext when you could make a dozen “Early Access” titles with tiny teams, hype them up and sell them to what seems to be an endless flood of people with money but no patience? Will we ever get any fully finished games again? Not that we ever got many “finished” MMOs to begin with!

    And yes, if money is changing hands then reviews are entirely to be encouraged and expected. Although nowadays, with Let’s Plays and Twitch and superstar streamers does anyone care about reviews any more?

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  4. zaphod6502

    In other news the other zombie game – Dying Light – packs in a whole lot of focused zombie chopping action and is way more fun than any of these other “walking simulators” and it only required a one off purchase.

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  5. kaedamaxwell

    One of the things that I find particularly worrying is companies doing early access and selling it for more money then they eventual finished product or as a separate extra product for extra charge (Elite Dangerous comes to mind).
    Because once it becomes obvious -if it hasn’t already- a large group of people will pay you more money for the prototype then for the the finished thing then it will soon be the standard.

    Ultimately all the power on things like these is with the consumer. If we want early access to go away we need to stop buying it. Refuse to pay for products that aren’t finished yet.

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  6. Nathan Morton

    Having paid for and played H1Z1, I can say I’m happy with my experience. They were forthcoming in telling everyone that they were paying for a product that wasn’t finished. They were forthcoming in telling everyone that the game would be free to play later. Their spin on paid early access was really “If you like what we’ve shown so far and would like to give us money, please feel free to, or you can wait for the finished product.” I see this as basically the same deal as kickstarters. For those complaining, you knew what you were getting into HTFU.

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  7. SynCaine

    Wasn’t SOE’s motto “Free to Play All The Way!”, or have I been mocking them with that for so long that I made it up and they never actually said/used it?

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  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Free-To-Play. Your Way.™ is considered a trademark of Sony Online Entertainment, and is a catch phrase they have thrown around a lot over the last year or so. I do not know if Daybreak Game Company got custody of that in the divorce.

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  9. JJ Robinson

    I’m glad the gaming media isn’t towing the line for this “early access” crap. Props to Polygon for being upfront with that. I’ve felt from the very beginning “Early access” is more or less soft launches, with some such as H1Z1 being a more solid launch than others. When a company hires a bunch of popular streamers to promote its “early access” launch, you better be damn sure I consider it a full launch.

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