GOG.com have today announced their plans to allow early access games to be sold on the service. They plan on doing it "the GOG.com way". Early access has become a very popular way of smaller (and sometimes big) studios to sell a game whilst it is still in development, allowing for sales of the game to help fund the further development and get community feedback. This way of doing things though can sometimes be a risky purchase for the player as games can radically change throughout development or in some cases never get finished.
GOG has laid out their plan for how they intend to handle the selling of early access games. It mostly breaks down to two main points. A a 14-day no-questions-asked refund policy will be in effect, and evaluating all the games in development making sure to curate so only projects they believe in are on the site.
First the 14-day no-questions-asked refund policy. GOG seem to want to build trust with its player base, just like when a person buys into an early access game they are trusting that the developer will deliver on their promise and present something that the consumer can enjoy. This replaces the normal refund policy GOG has, and the 30 day technical difficulties one. Explaining it GOG said,
It doesn't matter if you're having technical issues, if you don't think the game is sufficiently fleshed out, or if it simply doesn't click with you — all games in development can be returned for any reason within 14 days of purchase.
The next part is the selection of games that will be sold. Every game that will be sold will be evaluated to make sure it will be a good purchase for consumers. GOGs have commented on how they will pick these games,
First and foremost: we're hand-picking only the games we can truly stand behind. Offering a selection of the most promising titles, and those most highly requested on the Community Wishlist, is our way of avoiding bloat and ensuring that every game will be worth your time.
The first games that GOG have selected to sell are Starbound, Ashes of the Singularity, Project Zomboid, TerraTech, and The Curious Expedition. Each of them is having a GOG discount through February 2nd to celebrate their launch - with Starbound being 33% off, Ashes of the Singularity 25% off, Project Zomboid 40% off, TerraTech 30% off and The Curious Expedition exploring a more modest 15% discount.
Another feature that GOG will implement is for those who use The GOG Galaxy client. Because early access games can sometimes update sporadically, which can sometimes result in thing being broken. People who use the GOG Galaxy client will be able to make use of GOG Galaxy's rollback feature and easily restore any earlier version of your game. Beyond letting you play the version you like, they are also setting up the rollback feature to create what they call "historical snapshots" allowing you to go back and revisit the game at different points throughout its development.
Early access games can be a risky purchase for players. On the one hand they can often get the game at a cheaper price and witness it change through development and become a product worth the purchase. On the other hand sometimes developers fail to deliver on what they promised and the player is left feeling duped. GOG are clearly doing everything they can to prevent this sort of thing form happening and trying to give people who purchase early access games the a safer choice.
Is what GOG doing enough for you to purchase an early access game or do you want more? How do you feel Games In Development compares to Steam Early Access and XBox Preview? Share your thoughts in the comments below!