Early Access games have always been a gamble for consumers, and an update to Steam's T&Cs is now telling them as much.
Previous disasters such as the infamous Earth: Year 2066 have cast a shadow over Valve's increasingly populated service. New terms now state that Early Access games may never be finished and that consumers must accept this fact at the point of purchase.
It is up to developer to determine when they are ready to 'release',” the document says. Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses.
You should be aware that some teams will be unable to 'finish' their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.
Early Access is a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form as it evolves. You keep access to the game, even if it later moves from Early Access into fully released.”
Of course, it's only right that Steam is transparent with consumers and helps them understand the nature of any product they are buying. At the same time, the changes will also likely protect Valve from any action should consumers end up getting stung by failed projects.
The changes to the FAQ are intended to help set customer expectations of what may or may not happen over the course of development of an Early Access game,” Valve's marketing director Doug Lombardi told VentureBeat. We frequently iterate on Steam features as we gather feedback and find areas for improvement.
In this case, it became apparent that further clarification would help customers evaluate their potential purchase of Early Access titles. We think of Steam, Early Access, and game development as services that grow and evolve best with the involvement of customers and the community.”