Unfinished games are a bit of a mixed bag, to say the least. Some are genuinely amazing, quite playable, perhaps even ready to leave beta soon. But then there are those that are utterly broken, virtually void of content, and… well, who’s to say they’ll ever be completed? Steam’s Early Access program has been around for a while, and even with their new global refund policy, is still not entirely without (financial) risks. That won’t be an issue at all for GOG.com’s recent, somewhat similar, addition.
So, how exactly are they avoiding consumers essentially ending up feeling like they’ve essentially thrown money at a project that may or may not eventually reach completion, or even a proper enjoyable state? Simple: with a 14-day refund policy, no questions asked, no restrictions (other than the max-14-days-from-purchase thing). Play the game in question for how little or however much time you fancy. If it’s not to your liking, whatever the reason, just get a refund. No strings attached.
The thing that makes this such an amazing idea is that, in my experience, having played a fair amount of WIP titles over the years, it can be incredibly hard to form an opinion on something that is unfinished. Even more so when the product is a video game, as these can drastically change as development progresses, sometimes becoming entirely different beasts! Promises are also frequently made early on by the developer, boasting about how this or that will one day be part of the experience. While that does sound undeniably awesome… nothing short of their signature on a piece of paper can really stop them from pulling a one-eighty on one or more fronts, should they so desire.
It doesn’t matter if you’re having technical issues, if you don’t think the game is sufficiently fleshed out, or if it simply doesn’t click with you — all games in development can be returned for any reason within 14 days of purchase.
I’m not saying that you should never trust a developer, simply because what they’re selling is tagged as alpha, beta, Early Access or otherwise listed as ‘still a WIP’. Not in the slightest. Even less so if the digital storefront you’re browsing is GOG.com, what with their very consumer-friendly policy on games in development and all. Heck, the way I see it, there’s actually no risk involved whatsoever – just be mindful of the fact that you are dealing with people here, and that for some, this is their bread and butter. So please don’t be that guy/girl who abuses what GOG.com is doing. I’m sure you know what I’m getting at without me explaining it further.
Oh right, almost forgot: unlike on Steam, GOG Galaxy – GOG.com’s entirely optional UI / front-end – actually enables you to roll back to a previous update of an in-development title. Extremely useful for so many reasons, including, you know, if something breaks or… just for fun! Maybe you’d rather spend a bit more time with the game from when this or that was ridiculously overpowered instead of updating to ‘fix’ it, or some such. Very groovy.