When is it the best time to jump into an Early Access game?
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Often when people hear the term "Early Access" they think about games that are incomplete or filled with bugs. Sometimes they may worry that these games will be abandoned by the developers and never see a "complete" release of the title. While this fear may come true in a few cases, is it really worth missing out on some real gems of games while they're the current hotness?

Take the case of Valheim. This is an Early Access game that has already surpassed 2 million units sold after its first two weeks in Steam Early Access. This sales figure was divulged via Iron Gate Studio's CEO Richard Svensson. Not only has it sold over 2 million units already, but it just recently hit its all-time concurrent player record of over 392,000 players on at once. This made it the third most played game on Steam, placing it behind games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

For those that do not know about the game, Valheim is an open-world survival experience set in a world inspired by Viking culture. You can go in solo or go together in a party of up to ten players. Players will get to explore an expansive and procedurally generated purgatory. You will forage for materials and sustenance, battle foes, build housing, craft gear, and go toe-to-toe against massive mythological creatures in your fight for survival.

Svensson shared his thanks to the Valheim community and some thoughts on why Valheim has resonated so much with the gaming world at large.

"Valheim is a cooperative game about exploring a huge rather colorful world with very few borders or limits, that’s been released during a global pandemic when a lot of people are locked inside their homes and unable to see their friends and family. Hopefully being clubbed by a troll together will make them feel better."
Valheim has found immense success on Steam and streaming platforms such as Twitch. The game has a lot working in its favor already. Though considered to be "Early Access" in its current state, the game is very feature filled. It can, for most intents and purposes, be considered a "complete" game by a vast majority of players out there. Yes, there are some outstanding issues with the game, but it is not as though the developers are going to slack on updates. The studio already released a lengthy roadmap of planned content and improvements.

Why then does not every Early Access release find success? If I knew the answer to that I wouldn't be writing this article and would instead put some money towards a Las Vegas sportsbook. It is not the easiest thing in the world to guess which Early Access games will strike it big, but perhaps we can find some common ground amongst the success stories.

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All the Early Access success stories talked about thus far seem to have a big appeal towards the streaming community. Early Access games like Phasmophobia and Valheim resonated very well with Twitch streamers and their friends. People just like watching these types of games for whatever reason. At least in the case of Phasmophobia, we know that people like watching others get scared. Perhaps in the case of Valheim, people enjoy watching players go to battle with giant creatures or maybe they just like seeing how streamers build up their households. Those views then often translate to further sales of the title.

What then is the reason for Early Access success stories like Baldur's Gate 3? It's not exactly pulling in big numbers on Twitch but it's still sold quite well for itself even though it's an Early Access release. Undoubtedly, a lot of the success here stems from the fact that Baldur's Gate 3 is part of an established franchise that is already much beloved by fans. It also comes from a studio, Larian Studios, that also has a solid track record behind them. Players know that they will be getting a great product both now and, in the future, when the game leaves Early Access.

Sadly, not every Early Access release has this kind of backing to support them. Not every game will strike it big with streamers. Not every game will be developed by a known studio with a proven track record. Still, sometimes Early Access games strike it big just from what seems to be a roll of the dice and blind luck.