, the first major PS4 exclusive from longtime PlayStation developer Media Molecule, is finally almost here. But if you think its protracted development cycle is anywhere near over, think again.
PlayStation Blog has the news today: starting “this Spring,” gamers will be able to buy the latest “play, create, share” title from the makers of for $29.99 ($39.99CDN in Canada, €29.99 in Europe).
But there’s a catch: this version of the game will be given a loud “early access” label, a rarity on the PlayStation Store.
“If you participated in the [closed] beta and felt like wasn’t fully featured enough for you yet, or you wanted more Media Molecule game content, then Early Access might not be for you,” Media Molecule director Siobhan Reddy wrote on Wednesday. The sales pitch seems targeted at excited content creators who are ready to dive into the game, even without a full-fledged “campaign” mode or finalized UI and tutorials.
What’s more, Sony has added an unclear asterisk to the launch: that this early access title will have “limited” availability. Since it will only be available as a digital-download purchase on the PlayStation Store, that raises some questions. Will Media Molecule only sell a certain number of licenses before shutting the listing down? Will the early-access version only be available for purchase for a certain amount of time? And will early-access buyers need to pay money once the game launches to access updates like a new campaign mode? Media Molecule hasn’t clarified any of those points.
Without a clearer indicator of what the developer means, antsy fans may want to sign up for Media Molecule’s newsletter, which promises to have the first update on this front. (Access to the game’s last closed beta was previously put behind a newsletter-subscription requirement, so the dev seems serious on this point.)
Sony’s official dabbling in early access only has one other clear example: . This free-to-play, craft-and-survive game from Q-Games (founded by Dylan “Star Fox” Cuthbert) never actually emerged from its “pre-launch” period. Eager fans could pay $30 to get into the game early in exchange for some in-game items, but those became moot when the game’s servers were shut down roughly one year later.
Otherwise, the PlayStation Store has no official “early access” category, unlike the small-but-official “game preview” selection on Xbox One’s game-download shop (and an even bigger one on PC gaming storefront Steam). In the case of , at least, its most recent closed beta made clear that the game’s canvas is already ready for fan-made 2D and 3D adventures. We’ve already seen some wild stuff from that beta’s fanbase, including a total recreation of the notoriously delisted Konami horror experience , embedded below.
Still, is a good reminder that Media Molecule could change course and eventually leave its early purchasers high-and-dry—especially for a new game that apparently relies on server log-ins to access community content.