Oxygen Not Included, the space colony management sim from Don't Starve studio Klei Entertainment, slipped very quietly onto Steam earlier this year as a playable alpha—so quietly, in fact, that it was there for a month before we noticed it. The studio is making a little more noise about the next step, however, as it announced today that the game will go from alpha to Early Access on Steam on May 18.
The Early Access release will be accompanied by the rollout of the "Agricultural Update" on the same day, which will bring new plants, buildings, and "yummy" recipes to the game, improved crop tending with new pipe and irrigation systems, all new farming systems, Duplicant Stress Responses ("Tears will be shed and rations will be eaten with new Ugly Crier and Binge Eater traits"), and other new features upgrades, bug fixes, and tweaks.
Oxygen Not Included will sell for $25 in Early Access, with a 20 percent "loyalty discount" for anyone who already owns a Klei game, and those who purchased it in alpha won't have to buy it again. And that's an awful lot of people, too: Klei said that more than 150,000 people took part in the alpha, which is a frankly amazing number.
Early Access is a big step forward, but Klei made clear that it does not signal that a full release is imminent: "We still have a lot more in store for Oxygen Not Included, and plan to continue growing and updating the game well into 2018," the studio said. More information about the Early Access release of Oxygen Not Included can be found on the Klei forums.