Valve has tightened up its rules for Steam Early Access developers to help protect consumers and help ensure games are finished.
Giantbomb has obtained updated documentation for developers on the new rules and guidelines. These include avoiding making specific promises on future features and release dates, as “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”.
Early Access games must also launch on Steam at the same time as other storefronts or websites, and developers cannot charge more on Valve’s storefront than they are elsewhere. Titles must also be branded as Early Access when Steam keys are distributed elsewhere.
Developers have been advised not to release their game on Early Access if they can’t afford to finish development without it.
“If you are counting on selling a specific number of units to survive and complete your game, then you need to think carefully about what it would mean for you or your team if you don’t sell that many units,” read a statement.
“Are you willing to continue developing the game without any sales? Are you willing to seek other forms of investment?”
Other guidelines include making sure devs give consumers the right expectation of what to expect from the game and whether it includes significant bugs, to not release on Early Access without a playable game and not to launch on the service if development is finished.
The updated rules and guidelines come after it was claimed that, to date, only a quarter of Early Access games have ever gone on to receive a full Steam release.