GOG.com Launches ‘Games in Development’ to Take on Steam’s Early Access

Online game retailer GOG.com today launched a new program called “Games in Development” that will allow players to purchase and play eligible games before development is finished with a 14-day refund policy.

Games in Development competes with Valve’s Steam store which has a similar “Early Access” program, but GOG.com is quick to point out the differences between the two programs on its FAQ page:

2. Is this different from early access? Early access means the opportunity to try games early and participate in community-driven development, as well as the chance to support a game’s production.

Our take on games in development is all of those things, with the additional benefits of the GOG.com way:

  • Quality over quantity — When choosing the games that are a good fit for GOG.com, we make sure to pick the ones we can truly stand behind.
  • 14-day refund policy — You can download, play, and refund any game in development within 14 days of purchase – no questions asked.
  • Rollback in GOG Galaxy — Keep playing your game if the newest update is not doing it for you, or revisit historical version snapshots.
  • The games are DRM-free — No annoyances, no online checks.

The differences there are pretty stark. While any game on Steam can launch an Early Access build, GOG.com will be evaluating the quality of the game and developer before allowing a Games in Development build onto its store. As a result, GOG.com selected five games to introduce the program: Starbound, Ashes of the Singularity, Project Zomboid, TerraTech, and The Curious Expedition. Each game is currently unfinished and will offer a discounted price for players looking to buy in early.

As well, the 14-day refund is a significant step forward. Steam introduced a new refund policy last year that allows for 14-day refunds for any game you’ve played less than two hours of, but doesn’t make any special exceptions for Early Access games. GOG.com’s policy, however, offers players the chance to play for any amount of time for two weeks and get a refund without question.

The rollback feature is perhaps the most interesting though, allowing players the chance to return to previous versions of a game for any reason. Keeping all builds of a game is important for historical preservation, but it’s also a huge convenience factor for players who encounters problems in the latest build of a game but want to keep playing.

You can read more about the program on GOG.com’s announcement posting.