Steam Early Access makes public game tests a nearautomatic affair

Many gotta-have-it-first gamers are very familiar with public betas and other chances to try titles before they officially reach the servers — but not on Steam, where the closed system has usually left people waiting for final builds. Valve doesn’t want to leave customers on the sidelines, though, and is launching Steam Early Access to provide officially sanctioned peeks. The portal gives pre-release games the same automatic updates and community features as their finished counterparts, making it easy to squash bugs as they’re discovered, take feedback and simply let testers focus on playing rather than patching. Early Access’ initial roster is small: it focuses mostly on the ArmA III alpha as well as a swath of puzzle and RPG releases, so don’t expect to preview all the latest blockbusters. However, it might still be a win for both nervous game creators and especially eager players.

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