'Early Access' gaming is gaining momentum
Gamers on Steam's digital distribution platform have shown a willingness to embrace the Early Access model, which entails paying for a game before it's finished and being allowed to play beta or even alpha versions in return. The developer then uses those funds to complete the title, and may take into consideration feedback it's received from Early Access gamers. GOG is also looking into the Early Access business model , but there are some hurdles to figure out.
"We're obviously looking at it," Marcin Iwinski, co-founder of CD Projekt, the company that owns GOG, told Eurogamer in an interview. "As you know our concept is different: first of all it's DRM-free and second it's curated. I'm often very lost in a lot of stores -- apps being my example today. Or even Steam. I don't know what's happening; there's hundreds of releases a month, and I really believe -- and our community's clearly showing that -- there is a place for a platform which is choosing the stuff."
One of Iwinski's concerns is that of bad Early Access titles. By way of the business model, the developer pockets a significant amount of money right away, and if the game turns out lousy, well, tough luck -- you paid for it, you're stuck with it. In less extreme cases, a game might not be outright bad, but just fall short of expectations.
An example of the former is Earth: Year 2066, which was booted off of Steam for misleading customers. Iwinski believes it was Valve that ultimately refunded customers, but what if GOG gets caught in a situation like that and doesn't have the funds to reimburse angry gamers? That's one of the things he wants to figure out.
Nevertheless, Iwinski is still interested in seeing if Early Access could work at GOG.
"We would definitely consider it, but again it would be the GOG way. It would have to be curated and, we believe -- we are always saying this openly -- we are responsible in front of the gamer for what they're buying on GOG," Iwinski added.