The FAQ section for Steam Early Access has been updated to warn customers that some games may never see a full release.
Steam recently pulled Earth: Year 2066 from its Early Access program partly because it was not looking like a professionally conducted product.
This further clarification comes in the wake of several instances of development on early access games stopping before they have been completely finished.
’ You should be aware that some teams will be unable to 'finish' their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state,’’
reads the FAQ. ’It’s up to the developer to determine when they are ready to 'release'. Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses.’
The FAQ also points out that Early Access is not the same as pre-purchasing a game and whilst it does give access to the full game, it can only guarantee the game in its current state of development.
The most recent example of Steam Early Access disappointment was shown by Earth: Year 2066 which was removed from Steam in May. The game was flagged up by users as being derivative and amateurish with art assets being taken from other games and developer Killing Day Studios removing negative feedback from its Steam page.
Development on building strategy title Towns which was released on Steam before Early Access launched but under similar circumstances also stopped last months, leaving the game in a perpetual unfinished state.
The early access model whereby players get access to an in development title and then receive constant updates as work continues was most effectively pioneered by Minecraft which had a famously long alpha test and saw regular content and bug updates. Some notable titles currently going through the Early Access program on Steam include Wasteland 2, The Forest, Prison Architect, Sir You are Being Hunted and Hack ‘n Slash.