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The Early Access Charade: A Discounted Wait or a Pricey Ruse?

As a seasoned game editor, I've had my fair share of encounters with the dubious practice known as "paid early access." It's a scheme that leaves a so...

Marloes Valentina Stella

Jan 30, 2024

The Early Access Charade: A Discounted Wait or a Pricey Ruse?


As a seasoned game editor, I've had my fair share of encounters with the dubious practice known as "paid early access." It's a scheme that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Warner Bros. and other publishers who offer deluxe editions for purchase, promising to let players dive into a new game a few days early, are playing a completely dishonest game with their marketing. Let's take a closer look at this early access ruse and how it affects both players and reviewers.

1: The Deceptive Delight of Deluxe Editions

Word Count: 400 words

In this section, I'll explore how publishers benefit from deluxe editions and their customers' excitement to play a game early. I'll highlight how these loyal fans, who are willing to shell out extra cash, inadvertently become the first line of defense when issues arise. Bugs and glitches are conveniently dismissed with a wave of the "early access" wand.

2: Embargoes and the Silencing of Critics

Word Count: 500 words

This section delves into the impact of embargoes on reviews and the ability to provide an honest assessment. With multiple embargoes in place, reviewers are often left with limited options. By the time they can share their thoughts, players have already purchased the game, unaware of any potential pitfalls. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League serves as an example, as no reviewers had the chance to play it before early access began.

3: Rocky Launches and False Promises

Word Count: 600 words

Here, I'll highlight the issues that arise during launches, particularly for online games like Suicide Squad. While some hiccups are expected, early access customers pay for a promise that isn't always delivered. The downtime during launch hours becomes wasted time for deluxe edition buyers, eroding the value of their investment. I'll also touch upon the importance of early reviews in detecting and addressing such problems before they occur.

4: Refunds and the Fine Print

Word Count: 400 words

This section addresses the issue of partial refunds and the fine print that publishers conveniently hide behind. While customers may demand compensation, the asterisk in the fine print already accounts for potential outages and time zone differences. Publishers know the inherent problem with selling time, but that won't stop them from continuing this practice.

5: The Always-Online Predicament

Word Count: 600 words

In this final section, I'll focus on the drawbacks of always-online games like Suicide Squad and the consequences of server issues. I'll draw a parallel with Destiny 2, which has faced numerous offline periods for fixes. The need for an offline mode becomes apparent, and players are advised to wait until it is implemented.


Word Count: 230 words

In the conclusion, I'll reflect on the prevalence of selling early access in the gaming industry. I'll mention other notable games that have utilized this practice, such as Call of Duty, Hogwarts Legacy, and Baldur's Gate 3. Ultimately, I'll emphasize the need to change our perspective and approach to these deceptive tactics. This isn't about paying for early access; it's about getting a discount for patiently waiting.

Total Word Count: 3130 words

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