Derek Smart's Line of Defense is doing the Early Access thing on Steam, not because he needs your money—he doesn't—but because it's a good way to do a "wider public test... using backend tools we don't need to or want to develop." But a lot of gamers view Early Access as simply a way to play a game before everyone else rather than an actual testing environment, so to ensure the developers get the meaningful feedback they need, developer 3000AD is charging a hefty premium for admission to the club.
Line of Defense will carry a $99 price tag into Early Access, a big chunk of change for any game, much less one that isn't finished. The price includes the game, the top-tier Tactical Advancement Level IV kit (which will normally sell for $70 on its own), the choice of four Early Access-exclusive Commander Perks and a free copy of Line of Defense Tactics. It will also, according to Smart, provide a very specific kind of early player base.
"The $99 EA [Early Access] price tag—which has a LOT of perks—ensures that only serious people who can provide meaningful feedback through their commitment, need apply. And for that they get a lot more than they would if they waited for the final game release," he wrote on Twitlonger . "We're simply not interested in letting freeloaders gain early access to the game, not provide meaningful—if any—feedback, while we foot the bill for the backend services, servers, bandwidth etc."
It's an unusual gambit but one that Smart seems confident the game's potential audience will respond to. Comparing previous 3000AD releases to big crowdfunding successes that have preceded it but remain in development limbo (and zinging Star Citizen in the process), he wrote, "While they may not be everyone's cup of tea, we still keep making them because we have and know our audience."
The Line of Defense Early Access release is scheduled to go live sometime in July.