Strategy game Planetary Annihilation, which looks awesome, went live on Steam this week. Sort of.

The game isn't finished, but anyone wanting to play it now, ahead of schedule, can do so. For $90.

That's a lot of money, sure, for what's essentially an alpha of the game, but in addition to access now it also gives you entry to the game's beta and then the finished thing when it's out in December, which is a whole six months away. Note that the final game itself won't cost $90 for the general public; it's just something people can pay now if they're impatient.

If you don't want to pay $90 for the privilege of playing a game early, just wait for the final retail build and pay the normal price, like you do most other games. It's something the developers made clear during the Kickstarter, make clear on the game's Steam forums and make very clear on Steam's storefront.

Never ones to let giant print get in the way of a mob, though, the game's Metacritic page is being bombarded with negative reviews, as are the game's Steam boards. Here are some of the more choice examples:

  • There should be actual benefits for investing time and money into an alpha game (and is released on Steam, this is not on Kickstarter), not get financially slapped in thn the face for actually supporting a niche game from an unknown indie developer.
  • 90$ For alpha? What are we doing, paying extra for the privilege of testing your game FOR you? There is literally no reason to defend this. You want people to buy in early, get some extra money? You offer it at a DISCOUNT, you don't charge MORE (substantially so) than the final product. What kinda are you guys smoking?
  • $90 for a cheapo, bug riddled hunk of crap. The makers are con artists and don't deserve to be allowed anywhere within the gaming industry. They should be shunned, they should be removed from all game stores.
  • This gives greed and money schemes a new level of an epical standard. I don't know what the devs have been smoking but after a fully funded kickstarter they should just make the game and release it for a fair price and not use steam as a kickstarter project and blow their money on drugs and hookers cause i have no other explanation to where the two million went too if they need extra money now while the game is in alpha.

I mean, sure, the price is super high compared to other games you can buy your way into, and some are arguing the pricing should be backwards (cheaper now and more expensive at release, as if most people actually report bugs in alphas), but it could be more than $90 and it wouldn't matter. Why?

This is early access to an unfinished game. It doesn't have to play to market forces. I mean, if Activision offered people the chance to pay $1000 to play Call of Duty early, they'd get takers. You might not be able to afford it, you might not even want to afford it, but it doesn't matter. You're getting early access. You're getting behind the velvet rope, and if the club wants to charge a $90 entry fee, it's got every right to.

Plus there's the matter of honouring the game's really early supporters, those who backed the project on Kickstarter. That campaign offered as its $90 tier the chance to play the game super-early (in the alpha), the same point Steam customers can access the game now.

"Pricing the Alpha any lower than $90 would be a slap in the face to our Kickstarter backers who are just getting access now too", Uber's Bob Berry tells Kotaku. "We know we're losing money by having a high priced alpha, but its more important to us to honor our commitment to the existing community than to lower the price to get more money."

He's got a point. The anger of people who can't read websites is nothing compared to what would have happened if Kickstarter backers had paid $90 for access then Steam customers could suddenly waltz in for less.