Valve, the firm behind the Steam digital games service, has introduced the Early Access category, which allows gamers to play games still in development.
The firm introduced the service within an introductory post, along with an FAQ on the Steam service itself, highlighting that several titles were readily available on launch, including the likes of Prison Architect, Kinetic Void, and Arma 3, which currently remains in an Alpha stage of development.
“We like to think of games and game development as services that grow and evolve with the involvement of customers and the community,” reads the FAQ.
“There have been a number of prominent titles that have embraced this model of development recently and found a lot of value in the process. We like to support and encourage developers who want to ship early, involve customers, and build lasting relationships that help everyone make better games.”
It is a move that is likely to reduce the pressure on both Valve and the Steam platform, which results from gamers taking an increasingly active role in games development.
Earlier in the year, Steam faced a backlash from gamers following the release of controversial title The War Z. Still in development, the title’s summary page on the service detailed a number of features, which subsequently were not in the game on launch.
Despite claims from the game’s developer, Hammerpoint Interactive, claiming that the features would be incorporated in the game throughout its continued development – even placing the blame on buyers who "misread the description – gamers were annoyed having essentially been lied to.
As a result of the controversy, Valve moved to offer refunds to those players who had purchased the game, despite traditionally refusing them.
Valve’s decision to incorporate the Early Access category will maintain its ability to offer games still in development, whilst warning players of the potential issues involved.