This is a slightly tangential argument, but if you think about a game like Dark Souls 2, in which DLC and content were added after its release that addressed complaints about the core game, I begin to struggle to see the firm distinction drawn between that and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. In this moment of console development, shipping a game isn’t the end of its development. Do you rate Bloodborne on how it was at launch or how it was in December 2015 (at which point, substantial improvements had been made on issues like load times)?
While these are old questions at this point, this issue sometimes flares up with new games (e.g. the controversy around Mass Effect Andromeda after they said they would be patching it to improve it) and I do feel that it’s pertinent to the Early Access question. As someone who doesn’t draw a firm line between ‘narrative’ tweaks and gameplay improvements, I feel like EA games should definitely ‘count’, even if they don’t hit 1.0 in the year of release. Major EA games have been scuttled off GOTY lists for being released in January/February after the zeitgiest has passed them by, which is an awful shame.