Considerations and Ruminations on the Early Access Model

Next week for sure. DCS is in a marketing and PR blitz.

Speaking of PR, a bunch of ED folks participated in some lengthy discussions at Hoggit today.

Seems there is some angst about Hornet devs being moved to Viper temporarily to finish it up. This generated much discussion about the early access model which was interesting to read.

I would humbly put forth not to buy early access unless you felt the release at that moment was worth the price of entry without any further development. This approach certainly keeps the pulse at healthier levels. I could practically see the bulging eyes and white knuckles reading some of those rants.

For me, this has been true in every case. Hornet, Viggen, Tomcat, Harrier. All have been a blast to fly, and have been worth every penny on the day I bought them. Given that track record, I will buy the Viper at full price in early access without any concern.

This forum seems mostly immune to the angst, but please, buyer beware. If you feel strongly that early access means you are owed further development, and if said development failing to materialize in a timely manner (or at all) would anger you… maybe hold off.

I’m sure has already been said, but seemed like the appropriate time for a reminder.


People get so torqued because they are missing a particular radar mode, or weapon system. It’s crazy to me. It becomes such a feeding frenzy and for no good reason.

I have been happy with every early access module I bought. Heck, I’d even say I got my money’s worth from the Hawk. It had problems, but I still had some fun with it. The Hornet has been amazing with a steady introduction of new systems and features. I loved the Harrier and M2000C from day 1 even though the lynch mob was out for Razbam’s blood for the same reasons.


It’s weird because Razbam shows they are most definitely working on different aspects at different times. The M-2000C is still being actively developed as is the Harrier, though yes it’s a slow progress for the Harrier, it’s already almost 2 years now since it was released into EA!


This is one of the best and more sane posts about the topic.
I absolutely ageree. +1


To me, early access means being on the beta team, of old. I love the fact that I get to see the software develop.
Devs tinker about and adds features, fixing and breaking stuff. It’s all part of the process.
I totally get that this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and that some get impatient. To these people, early access must be a horrible experience. And if this is so, know that this isn’t for you and opt out.
I know this is easier said than done. We all cast lustful glances at that new shiny toy. But really, if playing with the module isn’t fun, you should stop.
We all do this for fun. It’s entertainment. If you’re not entertained, go do something else. For your own sake, and everybody elses…

And that pretty much sums up the meaning of this forum as well. :mudspike:


Beneath all the noise of people whining about the downside of EA, what that discussion on hoggit is about for me is actually a few quite well articulated concerns about the transparency and long term feasibility of ED’s business model.

And so far while ED officials have shown their heads, they haven’t really gone into answering at least some of the pressing questions.

I wouldn’t reduce this discussion to “early access isn’t for these people” because that would mean missing out on the more interesting parts.


So you say that all the stuff that came after release was worth only ~16$? All the weapon systems, targeting pods, radar modes etc?

Don’t get me wrong, I love DCS modules for all the details they put in, but if fully fledged model is prcied at 80$, EA version with the stuff that works at the release should be ~50$ when you put it this way.

I don’t mind paying more in advance, but I know they will eventually deliver their promise. I think I wouldn’t pay current price of 64$ for a module without further developement though… or would I?

P.S. I just got my Viper!

I see it this way:
I was going to buy it anyway, and I know that it won’t be on sale for a while after release.
So this is my chance to spend less money.

Should the module not be good enough for me to be enjoyable, then I just wait and fly something else.
As long as they finish it eventually (and I trust ED on that) I am fine.

The early access that bothered me most was the Mirage. I got it and learned everything, and then a lot of stuff changed. It wasn’t added or tweaked, it really changed. That killed my fun in the module because I had to unlearn things and learn them differently within the same plane.
The Hornet does it better. It is not complete, but the stuff that is already there basically works as it should. If ED does the same thing with the Viper I’ll be fine. Then I can learn it step by step as the systems and weapons are implemented.

Absolutely. But I’m not talking about the very few with legitimate concerns.
I’m addressing the vast majority of people who, quite frankly, are just complaining that the unfinished software is…unfinished. You can easily spot them in a crowd as they are wielding pitchforks. :wink:


That’s all well but then you are shifting the focus to the boring and tedious part. :slightly_smiling_face:

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True! :grin:

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Not at all.

I would say the module should be worth at minimum what you pay for it at the time you pay. Everything after that is gravy. I couldn’t put a price-tag on that.

Once you pay that money you have little real power to force further development. It’s not like you are going into contract with a home-builder with legal recourse if things don’t go as planned.

Angrily mashing away at a message board might seem a way forward, but end of day it is counter-productive. It removes value from your original purchase by creating a toxic community, and it discourages new customers from jumping onboard - thus reducing the chance that development will ever occur.

Of course some folks just don’t care and are happy to extract their value with a pound of flesh. Selfish, bassmoles IMO.

ED policy is to ban these people from their forums. I understand that perfectly. Unfortunately, the only way to identify them is by the disrespectful way they write. Sadly, this filters out many folks who may be trying to be constructive, but just don’t know how to write.

That’s a much bigger problem facing modern society. I weep for the state of education in the US and the effect of the internet on personal communication.


I’d say more than transparency, the concern is integrity. Doing what you say and saying what you will do. Pretty tough in game development. The other concern was censorship, somewhat answered above.

Most of this does tie closely into the early access model. The main reason folks are looking for that transparency is to know when they will receive value for their investment. The approach I take dramatically reduces that drive, as I consider these releases to be complete games as is.

The question of longevity with that business model is interesting, but I wouldn’t expect ED has any responsibility to share as a private company. I trust they are working in their own best interest.


Yes I do! But then I calm down because you are correct…life is too short to get so upset without a good reason…“the switch RWS to TWS while in 4 bar has not been properly implemented…what were they thinking!” is not a good reason. :slightly_smiling_face:

This really goes beyond flight sim mods development. Ever since software development became an industry, there has been a struggle with bugs and unfulfilled promises in software. This was a major focus of study when I was getting my graduate degree in formation Systems Management. In a nut shell, the bigger and more complicated the software application, the longer it takes to develop and the more likely it is to have bugs. Moreover, since software development is a business, there often comes a time where the app must go on the market, despite the lack of some features that were originally intended for inclusion.

At the time the focus was on improving the software development process through various methods. Industry standards were promulgated and a sub-industry of companies that did nothing but consult on your software development process (not the software itself) grew up.

Then we had the turn of the millennium and civilization was wiped out by the Y2K bug…oops, wrong reality.

Then we had the turn of the millennium…and a few more years went by…and software developers came up with the whole “early access” idea.

Take a mod like the FA-18. ED knows what the real plane does and wants to replicate as much of this functions as they can. That is a fairly big and complicated gated software application (remember what I said about big and complicated software apps). It is going to take a while and there will be bugs that slip through. How long? How many? They probably had some estimates that were not WAGs…but really? Who knows. The only right answer is usually “longer than we think and more than we think”.

Enter the early access business model. It makes sense. Get the FA-18 model up to the point where it can fly, land (on a carrier) and shoot its gun and a couple of missiles. Sell it for a reduced price with the customers getting the upgrades (for free) as they come out. ED stays in business and we all get to fly a Hornet…albeit a Hornet that does not have many of the capabilities that the real one does.

Plus, the customers essentially become Beta testers for the mod. How great is that?!! It is totally awesome. Usually you have to “bribe” people to be beta testers with a promise of a free copy on completion. Now the Beta testers are paying ED!!! (Really, seriously, from a business model perspective, this is awesome. I am not being sarcastic.)

If the customer is happy with this plan, and ED is happy with this plan then who is to complain? (Hold that thought). If a would-be customer is not happy with getting a “full up” Hornet then they do not have to buy it. They can continue to fly other mods and be happy. Everybody is happy! :slightly_smiling_face:

…except…what if ED changes the plan after a customer has purchased the mod? Why if they decide to pull developers off the FA-18 and put them on another mod–another early access mod. Well, it is their company so they can do what they want…and I never saw any promise that the level of effort would remain constant until the mod was proclaimed “finished”…so…

If I actually flew my FA-18 mod I might be less than happy at this news…but don’t , so I won’t.

ED rocks! :grin:


I fly my hornet a lot. It’s an easy machine, and it has a lot of overlap with the viper. I have been flying simulated vipers for so long and so much (Falcon AT, Falcon 3.0, Falcon 4), it’s like riding a bike.

I am not unhappy with its development. In fact, I am overjoyed with the speed and amount of progress made. Guess I’m more easily pleased than some, or have a more patient, more emphatic view on these things.

I don’t really see the lack of TWS as a game breaking bug. TWS is nice, but often it’s only good for a couple seconds anyway because missiles will be flying, women will be crying and MiG’s will be dying. And that, this sim provides in spades. Lovin’ it.

As to Early Access as a business model, it’s not as new as it seems. Flight simulations always used to be huge buggy messes at release. No sim ever released not needing at least three or four patch cycles until ‘ripe’. Some took twenty years to fully gestate lol.

I think it’s a good thing. Takes away a lot of the “this sim is a buggy mess, why can’t these motherlovers release a working sim?! whaaa!” kind of angst. You pays your ticket and you takes your ride. Now shut up and fly, boy!


An excellent point. I dont get the vitriol and venom that is unleashed these days. If you want to buy it early. Do it. If you don’t. Dont. It’s not going to stop the sun coming up and it’s not going to make any meaningful difference to your life.
I dont buy early access as a rule. I’ll break that rule in occasion if I feel it’s worth it (the WIP I saw before the tomcat release a prime example)
I probably wont do it again soon as nothing upcoming in the near future makes me want to take the plunge but it’s nice to have the option to buy the viper early if I do fancy it. The HIND is another I’d probably buy early because the aircraft excites me enough that I might buy into it early if the in progress shots make me think it’s worth it. But I wont be complaining if it turns out to be not what is advertised as I make my own choice on the subject. It’s a gamble. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t. But you dont shoot up the casino when you dont, you pick yourself up and start again


To me buying in Early Access also allows me to experience and mess with the aircraft a lot faster then if I’d have to wait for full release. I am okay with that, taking things one step at a time. Not sure how much it helps a company like ED, in a way I hope it does.

Let’s look at it this way not even 4 years ago we got 1.5 which improved a lot over 1.2.8, then we got 2.0 with Nevada, and then it all pretty much snowballed. I think DCS has a come a long long way over the past few years with a ton of new modules as well. I remember when a single new model released was the big thing. There was a time I could keep up with buying it all and flying it!

To me EA has done DCS a lot of good, though I do not know if it would have been just as good with normal full releases.


I’m poor so I simply pretend I don’t like Early Access and wait to buy stuff when on sale! :smiley:
It works!


If I hadn’t bought Early Access VTOL VR, my life would have been incomplete for the past year or so…


With a saving on the Early Access release day price, pre-buying now could be considered as being a sale ? :wink:

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