Evolve developer Turtle Rock Studios considers Early Access for future projects

Andy Chalk at

I'm old enough to remember a time when alpha and beta testing was something game makers did before they released their creations to the paying public, and so I find "Early Access" to be a particularly interesting phenomenon. It was initially promoted as a way for indie developers to maintain themselves through much-needed infusions of funds, but now the big boys are giving it a look and they seem to like what they see. DICE recently said that it's looking at Early Access for upcoming Battlefield games, and Evolve developer Turtle Rock Studios would like to do the same thing.

To be clear, Turtle Rock co-founder and creative director Phil Robb wasn't talking about Evolve itself, but about the possibility of releasing future projects through Steam Early Access. "I would love to do that, and Chris [Ashton, cofounder and design director] feels the same way," he told Gamasutra. "Who knows, I won't say 'never,' but I can't say 'yes' for sure."

Robb said that the real attraction isn't the money, but the ability to interact with the community during the development process. He said Evolve has changed a lot over the years, and that Turtle Rock "lamented the fact that we couldn't take the community along on the ride."

Turtle Rock is independently owned, so its musings on Early Access are perhaps more palatable than those of DICE, whose ideas for Battlefield on Early Access attracted a not-entirely-positive response. But it's hardly a tiny indie operator: Turtle Rock's LinkedIn page describes it as having from 51-200 employees, and it is currently developing Evolve for the PC and next-gen consoles all on its own. I don't doubt that Robb's motives are pure but I do wonder if, indie or not, the studio will face any backlash for capitalizing on a system meant to aid small developers in financial straits – especially if Evolve is a big hit.