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The Early Access concept is coming to Discord. After launching its game store and subscription service in October, the communications platform is expanding with even more ways for developers to connect with fans. With its Early Access portal, Discord is now selling unfinished games and then enabling studios to quickly get feedback on those products.

Discord Early Access is getting a handful of games today. The excellent downhill bicycling game Descenders is one of the headliners of this new service. But it is also getting games like Parkasaurus, Kynseed, Visage, and Mad Machines.

“As players ourselves, we’re stoked at the chance to provide feedback and shape the game experiences we love,” reads a Discord blog post. “Chatting directly with devs in their verified servers and helping guide the game towards what we want to play is, well, sick. This is why we’re launching Discord Early Access. Now, devs can release their games as early access and players like you can support them during their development. Help create some awesome game experiences.”

An ideal fit for Early Access

Early Access is a concept that came into popularity with Minecraft. In 2009, developer Mojang released an unfinished version of that game that people could buy to help fund development. It would eventually hit its “finished” 1.0 version in 2011. Following that success, Valve — the company that owns and operates PC-gaming platform Steam — embraced that business model. Early Access on Steam is now a thriving ecosystem. It’s a place for studios to bring in revenue and gauge player excitement during the first steps of their process. And it has launched hugely successful games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

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But Discord could have an even bigger impact on Early Access. Many people are already using this platform’s chat and voice features to communication with developers, and now Discord wants to bring all of that into a unified experience. That’s something that developers, like Descenders studio No More Robots, are happy about.

“Without opportunities like Early Access, we would not have made Descenders,” No More Robots founder Mike Rose said. “By specifically joining Discord’s curated Early Access program, we now have a way to connect where our community lives and where they buy our games. It’s easier for players to find the games or find us or both — which is exactly what we need.”

Finally, Discord is going to work to bring various Early Access developers together so that they can share feedback and best practices with one another.

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