Alpha Phase, or better known as Early Access, has been about the gaming industry for some time. For those of you who are not familiar, it is a funding model for developers, especially indie games. Don't believe me? Look it up on the web.
That's what my Early Access page looked like on Steam at time of writing.
The gist of Early Access is to release an incomplete version of the game and let the players test your product. The best part, they have to pay you to do it. Not only do you receive the benefits of crowdfunding, you also get free bug hunting. Often, the community that spawns from the sales can influence development direction. In the end, the developers receive money and consumers receive a product they enjoy.
In a sense, this is not much different than the ICOs we have seen in the crypto space. A project has some sort of blockchain solution to a problem. Then, the team distribute tokens as a way to raise funds for their project. Should they release something worthwhile, token holders would profit.
What are my thoughts? It's not much different from ICOs. You buy at your own risk.
The difference is that losing $10-20 for an Early Access game is less detrimental. There exist people who have lost hundreds and thousands of dollars investing in ICOs.
I generally avoid buying unfinished products. There are some very good games that we know today that were in that Alpha Phase. Examples include Darkest Dungeon, Slay the Spire, and Fortnite. But, for every successful game, there were number of frauds and money grabs that happened.
Nowadays, the screening process for these games have gotten better. We are seeing less scummy products released to the consumers. As for me, I have yet to come across an Early Access game that draws me in based on promises.