Valve has issued a brand new set of guidelines for developers on Steam who are using the system’s Early Access program according to Giant Bomb. While not strictly enforced rules, the new guidelines have been put in place to try to combat the large number of games that have been put on the program but then have been left unfinished or abandoned by developers, leaving customers with little to show for their money. The new document reads:
“When you launch a game in Steam Early Access, there is an expectation by customers that you will continue development to a point where you have what you consider a ‘finished’ game.
“We know that nobody can predict the future, and circumstances frequently change, which may result in a game failing to reach a ‘finished’ state, or may fail to meet customer expectations in some other way. We work hard to make sure this risk is communicated clearly to customers, but we also ask that developers follow a set of rules that are intended to help inform customers and set proper expectations when purchasing your game.
“For example, there is no way you can know exactly when the game will be finished, that the game will be finished, or that planned future additions will definitely happen. Do not ask your customers to bet on the future of your game. Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realised.”
Other points raised in the additional guidelines deal with the fact that developers should not use the Early Access system if they will not be able to carry on development with just a small number of sales. In effect, Valve is asking developers to only commit to the program if they already have funding in place to continue development without selling a large amount of copies, so that the program is seen as a place where customers can actually impact on the development of a game rather than just fund it like with Kickstarter. The document also asks that developers advertise potentially game breaking bugs and other important issues clearly with customers everywhere they are selling keys and to ensure that they only use the program if they have a game that has actual gameplay.