The latest title from Dutch indies Vlambeer, Nuclear Throne, has appeared on Steam today in Early Access. In an interesting development, purchasing early will come at a higher price than the game's final release.
Vlambeer's Rami Ismail explained the decision in an e-mail to Destructoid, saying, "we feel that being part of development and having the opportunity to talk and affect the final game in the livestreams on www.nuclearthrone.com. We think that's worth the slightly higher price."
The procedurally generated shoot-em-up has been operating in a kind of "live development" atmosphere, with twice-weekly streaming video sessions on the game's website which feature the developers as they work to refine and improve the game. Players who have purchased the Early Access version are expected to receive new versions of the game on a weekly basis and gain a further involvement in the development process.
I think it's a great idea from a business perspective for smaller developers to take this route, but it remains to be seen if such a tactic will be effective in the highly competitive Steam marketplace, where games offered pre-release are almost always available at a "sale" price to capture an early audience. Vlambeer's growing name-recognition and reputation might make them an ideal test case.
When asked what the final version of Nuclear Throne would be priced at, Rami said, "We don't know the final price yet, but the difference will probably be absolutely minor."