A more stringent set of requirements has been put in place for games released via Steam’s Early Access service.
The new rules impose a string of requirements. For instance, games can no longer be branded as Early Access if the developer is distributing keys on other sites so as to prevent customers buying unfinished titles.
Developers are also now told to avoid making specific promises: "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 realized."
Alongside the rules are an accompanying set of guidelines. One says that Early Access games should not be launched if the developer hasn’t already got the financial means to conclude development.
There is no guarantee that your game will sell as many units as you anticipate. 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,” it says. Are you willing to continue developing the game without any sales? Are you willing to seek other forms of investment?”
Devs are also told not to launch games on the service that aren’t playable or games that will not receive any further development.
It was discovered earlier this month that only a quarter of Early Access titles are ever completed.