“Early Access has a problem” starts [the latest post on itch.io’s community blog].
Their update today brought news of a project that the team had been working on for sometime, something set to reinvigorate the way that developers can receive feedback from users of their games, specifically when they are still in development.
It’s no lie that terms like “Early Access” and “Closed Beta” no longer have the same connotations as they did a few years ago, closed and open betas were used to gauge the effectiveness of products prior to launch, to test thresholds and functionality prior to the product launching. But now, even with Steam changing user reviews to show as recent and overall, games are regularly getting negatively reviewed, and ultimately penalised, for being in development… when they are clearly advertised as in development.
Refinery allows it’s developers to decide from several different means of distribution – “Whether that comes in the form of an open paid alpha with limited keys or a closed beta playtest with select testers, the toolset allows a developer to customize their program.”
The ability to completely scale and limit the size of the user base afforded access to the game, as well as the other features looking to be added, certainly does make the service look like a completely viable alternative to the more traditional means.
As of the post, on the 13th of May, there were already 5 titles confirmed for the service: Overland, Manifold Garden, Jenny LeClue, hackmud & GoNNER. A fantastic set to get going with.