This might be the Steam alternative that we so desperately need

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Steam is great and all, but there’s so much crap that Valve is allowed to get away with because it doesn’t have any serious competition. Aside from Origin, which doesn’t really count because it only sells EA titles, the only competition that Steam really has is GOG, and it’s absolutely minuscule compared to the behemoth that is Steam, but that might actually work to the platform’s advantage. Rather than try to beat Steam at its own game, GOG is trying to be everything that Steam isn’t by doing things the opposite way that Steam does. That being said, it does emulate Steam from time to time, such as with the new Early Access-like feature that it just implemented called Games In Development. What separates this from the Steam equivalent, however, is that GOG actually goes to great lengths to ensure that customers aren’t screwed over by buying a game that’s still in development. 

DRM-free gaming service GOG is introducing its own take on Early Access. Thanks to things like strict curation, a version rollback feature, and generous refunds, I’m super into it. I hope Valve is taking notes. The three pillars of GOG’s Early Access program (functionally but not-so-creatively titled “Games In Development”) sound like a brilliant way to cut down on exploitation of a system where people pay for games long before they’re “finished.” Here’s how GOG explains them: “First and foremost: we’re hand-picking only the games we can truly stand behind. Offering a selection of the most promising titles, and those most highly requested on the Community Wishlist, is our way of avoiding bloat and ensuring that every game will be worth your time. It takes some confidence to discover games that are still being shaped — and to build that trust, every game in development comes with a simple refund policy: 14 days, no questions asked. It doesn’t matter if you’re having technical issues, if you don’t think the game is sufficiently fleshed out, or if it simply doesn’t click with you — all games in development can be returned for any reason within 14 days of purchase. The GOG Galaxy client should also come in handy for games in development. It lets you control updates manually if you want, while the rollback feature allows you to easily restore any earlier version of your game if an update breaks something or makes unwanted changes. For games in development, rollback will also track and create historical snapshots throughout a game’s development. That means you can always revisit any point in a game’s history — for fun, or for science.”

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