Is it? I'm not so sure.
Early access -- and all of the other similar names for the same concept -- appears to be the latest trend that's sweeping not just MMOs but video games in general. Both Steam and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter are largely responsible for promoting early access, and it has been a popular attraction for players who previously had to sit on their hands and wait for a game to get, y'know, finished. Now we can indulge instantly and run around the structure even as it's still under construction.
I was talking about early access with Bree on the podcast the other day, and both of us were expressing distaste and an increasing uneasiness with the early access trend. Popular as it may be, is it really the way that games should be made? Will it result in better titles in the end? And who is getting what, exactly, out of it? It's this last question I want to address today.