Steam, the popular game management and purchasing tool made by Valve has launched a new feature today dubbed "Early Access", allowing players to take part in the development process of unfinished games.
Buying or downloading free-to-play titles in this section will allow you to play products in the alpha or beta stages, meaning they aren't technically finished products, giving the community ample time to provide feedback as the developers make changes.
Steam's inaugural batch of titles includes twelve games ranging in type and scale. In the FPS spectrum the recently released Arma 3 Alpha has been listed as "Early Access", while smaller independent titles like Starforge, a sandbox survival game that seems to meld Halo and Minecraft have also made the list.
What's really interesting to think about is how concepts like this will change what exactly a game tester really is. With the capability to essentially contract an entire community of players for free to find bugs in your game would you ever really need to pay for a tester again?
Whether PC and Mac developers jump on the chance remains to be scene, however the prospects of having more community involvement in games can only be a good thing for the products themselves.
In order to utilize the new feature just download the Steam client and click on the Early Access section.