Early Access in gaming is just like the rest of the Internet: technology that started off as a great idea but is now full of dicks and scams. The theory is that players can buy a game before it's finished to support small studios and to generate priceless community feedback. In practice, it's assholes shouting, "Wow, now we don't even have to finish this bullshit!" Game development is more complicated than it's ever been, with 10 new stages after Alpha and Beta testing, and Early Access is how assholes use it all to take your money.
Peter Molyneux made fantastic games 18 years ago and spent the money reinventing overhype as a performance art. If Molyneux had made your genitals you'd be disappointed even when playing with yourself, because he'd have promised that orgasms would summon free pizza that leaves you smelling like a fresh summer rain.
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Instead, you smell like anchovies.
His game Godus raised over three-quarters of a million dollars by promising a modern Populous with a shared persistent world, multiple-platform support, multiplayer co-operative modes, and a "regenesis of the god game." This was promised by a man who once had to beg for donations to fix Curiosity, a smartphone game where you spend money to tap on blocks and nothing else.
A few years of sequels and they might work their way up to Arkanoid.
Thirty months and $800,000 later, Godus' status is "almost none of that stuff and almost nobody working on it." Most of the staff have been reassigned to a completely different game or switched to the freemium mobile version. That's "freemium" as in "this game charges you money to get things, but thanks for the free half-million quid anyway."
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Kickstarter: Where old developers pawn their own legacies.
How did Molyneux apologize? By blaming Kickstarter (and therefore all his funders) for giving him money in the first place while admitting that he'd been lying all along. He bemoaned:
"It's everyone else's fault for believing a single word from my scamhole."
No, you asshole! The point is to say what you can actually do, and if you make enough money you actually do it. That's it! Dozens of small studios do it! They depend on Kickstarter to do it, to develop their dreams, because they're not gaming superstars who made Populous and Syndicate and Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper and they haven't sold enough games to build a Death Star out of the discs before telling players to pay microtransactions before you'll alter the bullshit you sold them any further.
Molyneux pissed in the beginner's begging bowl after stealing all the money. I'd swear the whole thing was a scheme to cripple funding for the next generation of developers because he hasn't finished a good game in over decade. He's now working on mobile game The Trial. I'm not sure how stupid you'd have to be to spend a single cent on that, but that's exactly how stupid Molyneux thinks you are.
#5. The War Z
The War Z was a post-apocalyptic open-world multiplayer zombie survival game. Those words will soon be spelled Z0 MBie and S_urviv@L to get past spam filters, because they're the gaming equivalent of online Cialis adverts: easy ways to get money out of people who aren't using their brains anymore.
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If shambling persists for over four hours please contact a doctor. Or any other uninfected.
There are now enough zombie games that we could wire them all directly to each other to distract all the virtual undead by letting them play each other. Except even their rotting skulls will quickly bore with most of these bullshit cash-ins. A zombie crying, "Brains!" shows more originality than 90 percent of modern indie zombie games, because at least it knows where a new idea might come from. The War Z went Early Access before that was officially a thing by selling a "Foundation Release." Which meant the players were paying to be buried in the ground and have whatever the developers decided to build dumped on them. Which would still have been more fun than the game. The game was missing more features than a bowling ball impersonating a sex worker and was even more painful to interact with.
"Don't knock it 'til you've tried it."
That's when things got really stupid. The developers started banning anyone who posted negative reviews of the game. It's a game based on a viral outbreak, and they tried to prevent news from spreading online. Forget not understanding how video games work; they didn't even understand how the Internet works.
"I'll just smash the Wikipedia page on the Streisand Effect!"
They were trying to con people into buying a game so astoundingly incomplete Steam would be forced to step in and refund everyone. Oh, and they're still trying to get away with all this shit by renaming it Infestation: Survivor Stories so that it isn't connected to search results for The War Z. So don't buy Infestation: Survivor Stories, because it's The War Z. Infestation: War Survivor Stories Z.
Towns is a city-building game claiming influences from Diablo, Dungeon Fortress, and Dwarf Fortress, because it turns out you don't even need to be connected to past good games to use them as keywords for free money. (Sorry, Molyneux, now you got nothing.) The makers of Towns decided to sell the unfinished Beta at the full final price. Which would seem to indicate that they didn't know what "Beta" means. But 200,000 people buying it for $15 proved they knew exactly what they were doing.
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This might be because they only announced the Beta status in a whisper by an unmarked grave on the night of the blood moon, because it sure as hell doesn't show up on the Steam page or official site where they're still hoping you'll throw them some money. You'd be better off throwing it in the trash. At least then there's a chance someone who actually does their job will find it.
"I do this as an enjoyable break from playing Curiosity."
The only hint is a vague reference to some features being "fleshed out," written to seem like they meant leveling up in the game. Of course they weren't fleshed out. Of course they took the money, got bored working on the game, and then there were some shenanigans about who was even going to bother continuing development before they decided it was nobody.
The people in real pyramids did more work after it was finished.
The bullshit gets even better! Note: This is the only way in which Towns will ever get any better. They excitedly announced that they'd like to start work on a sequel that would include all the features they'd promised for the first game. This is where they discovered that even when you take $3 million for an unfinished hobby and a verbal agreement saying "IOU ONE GAME," human stupidity isn't quite infinite.