They redefined "finishing" instead of actually doing it. With the game's promised feature list still somewhere between "incomplete" and "player dialysis," they suddenly declared that the latest early access build was "v1.0," released the source code, and told fans, "It's missing a lot of things, but since you were so cool paying for them, would you mind developing them for us as well?"
In-game simulation of the game.
They didn't just drop the game; they dropped all the staff who'd worked on it, too. Then they told fans there wouldn't even be any technical support. This wasn't a big announcement. This was posted as a response to a forum complaint that fan-based mods -- one of Double Fine's own excuses for just dumping the open-source code on the street from an upstairs window -- were utterly broken and unfixable from the players' side. And the official company response, a fortnight later, wasn't even, "Good luck with that"; it was more, "We fired anyone who might even pretend to care."
If a company like Double Fine is screwing people out of Early Access, that's it. It's over. They've reversed the polarity of Early Access: Instead of supporting new studios, we're paying for old ones to destroy their own legacy. Don't listen to one speck of bullshit about things being more complicated. They sold a game with the promise of certain features, and once they had the money the features stopped mattering. That's the exact structure of a scam.
At least on launch day AAA developers pretend the game's finished. Early Access developers aren't selling anything; they're claiming video game development as charity work. Finishing things is hard. That's why we pay other people to do it. And that's why we pay them only after they do it, and when we know they've done a good job. Pay a stranger halfway through fixing your toilet and you'll soon see why we don't normally do that. And you still won't be dealing with as much shit as you do with the Early Access market.
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