An interesting announcement from Google yesterday – Early Access is coming to the Google Play Store!
It looks like it will be a curated version of Steam’s Early Access as Google state, “We’ll also be adding a new featured section to the store, called Google Play Early Access, showcasing a hand-picked group of promising open betas that haven’t gone to production yet”. This could be a reaction to the PR problems that Steam has had with their Early Access program.
This is a great opportunity for mobile game developers and in some ways, is a much better fit than launching a PC game through a similar program. Mobile games tend to be much more data-driven and with a high volume of users potentially trying out a small selection of Early Access games, this could offer valuable feedback for developers as well as being a great marketing opportunity.
Other features for developers include:
- Pre-launch report summarises issues found with your app before you launch.
- Respond to reviews (API integration with Zendesk and conversocial).
- Family members will soon be able to share apps purchased on Google Play.
Google has been making moves in the game’s market for a while now (I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Steam competitor coming soon – YouTube Gaming was setup because gaming videos are the most popular on YouTube, and combined with the Google Play store, digital distribution of PC games can’t be too far off). This move will allow Google to road test an Early Access program that could easily be scaled beyond the mobile market.
I would also suspect that Google will work hard to help the first crop of Early Access titles do well, potentially leveraging other areas of the Google network to do so. It would be a savvy business move from them and they certainly have the resources to make it work. By doing so, they will move a little bit further into territory held by Apple and Microsoft. Very interesting times and great for developers!