A movie on Steam Early Access is the most disgusting thing you will see this week

by / Monday, 02 November 2015 / Published in Editorials & Reviews, News & Articles

Steam and Early Access have a funny history. What initially started as a way for small indie developers to fund their projects with potential feedback from the community spiraled out of control when The War Z came out and gave said community the middle finger. Ever since there’s been rumblings of bad companies abusing the system, coming in many shapes and sizes. But personally, as someone who actually works in the movie industry, this is where I draw the line, fuck you indie filmmakers, seriously, fuck you.

Jäsøn is an upcoming episodic web series about a wannabe serial killer that just popped up on Steam. Of course, the series hasn’t even released its first episode yet, but it seems the budget is short, what’s an indie filmmaker to do? Release on Early Access of course! ‘Oh, so you get to see an early cut of the film?’. No! You get a notepad document. Yes, you currently get just a short notepad document with some details on the project. In the films folder on steam there’s also a couple of storyboards, promo images, a short pilot script, and some pieces of music. That’s it, $7.

The film maker, of course, tried to defend himself:
“We are about the (sic) start production of our web series and as we go along, we want to engage our audience, involve you into our process of creation, and let you see more than an audience normally would. We like to break moulds when it comes to the structures of storytelling and the way we approach our creation, which is why we wanted to give Early Access a try. And there is a lot of added benefit, for you and us.”

“While we will produce Jäsøn regardless of Early Access sales, for indie filmmakers, budget can be a struggle, and every little bit helps to increase the quality and adds options. That means, whatever we make during Early Access, will be used to enhance and further the production value for Jäsøn—and thus make it better for you.”

First of all, Mr. Indie Filmmaker, fuck you, again. Second of all, if you’re already starting production (which means the shooting of the film) and just now you want money for ‘quality and options’, that sounds like that really just means you want money for VFX during post, which means you aren’t using practical effects for the assumed murder that’s happening, so you’re also doing indie filmmaking wrong. But the big problem here is that Early Access has absolutely zero place in filmmaking. Early Access is for testing features, bug testing, seeing if your game is even fun. It’s not for displaying behind the scenes materials. You want to create a Kickstarter? Be my guest, the great thing about Kickstarter is that you choose how much you donate, here, it’s a forced $7.
It’s misleading to try to tell your potential audience that buying into this piece enables your audience to engage with you, or involve you in the process of creation. I can already tell you that this filmmaker isn’t going to let you provide feedback on how the film is going, rather, it’s giving you a window to peer through while they make the film. I can hop on the facebook page of any upcoming film and see more than enough behind the scenes materials, stills from the movie, interviews, location scouting photos, etc for free. This guy is telling me I should pay $7 for a notepad document that can so easily be copy and posted to everyone I know. This is disgusting, it’s exploitation, and it’s a peak demonstration on just how the early access system is abused. You want community feedback? Hold a test screening, it’s the best thing you can do for your film. You want money? Make a Kickstarter, some guy with a mansion will probably donate a couple of grand, rather than hope enough people pitch in $7.
Funnily enough, Steam now changed the category from Early Access to ‘Coming Soon’, still complete with a $7 word document, however.

UPDATE: Since posting this article, Steam has now completely removed the product from the Steam store

Leave a Reply