A recent article by PC Gamer which discusses the pros and cons of a method of game development that sells unfinished products to consumers, recently drew the attention of Minecraft creator, Markus “Notch” Persson. In the article, two editors from the popular PC magazine sat down to discuss the issues that arise when developers sell games in Alpha and Beta forms. They made some really interesting points, and you can find the original article here. Seeing the huge success that Mojang had with Minecraft has prompted other developers to journey down the same path.
In the case of Minecraft, Notch sold the game at a discounted price while it was developed on the fly and constantly updated with new content. The build anything title sold millions of copies before even entering into its beta phase of development. The players trusted the developer with their money, and he delivered, above and beyond what was likely expected. It’s a method that takes much of the risk off of the table for developers, and gives ample amount of feedback from the community in the process. But as successful as it was for Notch and Mojang, it appears that the article has prompted the popular developer to change things for future titles, which includes his upcoming game 0x10c.
Notch says that because of this article specifically, he will not be using alpha or beta labels during the development process for 0x10c. According to a recent tweet from the developer:
“This article came out much more interesting that I thought…Because of that article. I’m not going to use alpha/beta labels on 0x10c. I’ll still be clear about it being in development,” he said.
But Alpha and Beta labels aren’t the only thing Notch is worrying about. He’s also concerned about the review process that games developed in this manner are subject to, saying that it doesn’t make sense for “arbitrary stamps of quality” to be placed on a game that is a work in progress. However, game reviews are generally guides for people to gain an understanding of what a game is, and whether its worth their money or not. If developers are charging for people to play, even if a game is a work in progress, it should be judged just like any other product.