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Planetary Annihilation Alpha Access Now Available on Steam

By on June 13th, 2013 1:59 pm

Planetary Annihilation Alpha version | Uber Entertainment

Remember Planetary Annihilation, a Total Annihilation inspired by sci-fi RTS proposal that succeeded on Kickstarter with a total pledge of $2,229,344, last summer? Well, if it’s the first time you read about it, know that this title managed to generate quite a buzz by then, if not by its design then by the highly successful Kickstarter campaign itself, which managed to raise $1.3 million above the funding goal.

The 1997 Total Annihilation title seems to have been an RTS of particular importance. I don’t know first hand, because I didn’t play it. I was probably very busy playing Master of Orion 2, or Red Alert at the time :) But, judging from Planetary Annihilation’s major success on Kickstarter, and the fact that some of the guys who were behind Total Annihilation are now part of Uber Entertainment, reinforces the belief of TA’s significance. And, makes this a worth title to check out by Total Annihilation fans, or by RTS fans in general.

Uber Entertainment started sending Alpha access to its backers a week ago, and they’re selling pre-orders at Uber’s shop starting at $40. Now, it’s also available on Steam, as of today, for $89.99/€82.99/£68 (I doubled checked the prices), through Steam’s “Early Access” program. Which seems to be Steam’s way to release game’s in alpha state these days.

Mind that this is still a work-in-progress game! Beta should start in September 2013, and the entry price should drop by then (apparently that’s the way it works according to Uber):

“This is the pricing determined over a year ago. Our Kickstarter set these levels, and while we understand people may not like it, it’s the decision we had to make. But that is the schedule if you want to wait until the price drops to a level you’re more comfortable with.” –Garat / Marc Scattergood (Producer, Uber Entertainment)

It’s not unusual to see Kickstarter campaigns charging more for Alpha or Beta access. I always see that as an excuse for people to increase their pledges in order to help a project kickstart. But, does that make sense when the game is effectively being sold on a store, on Steam in this case? Time will tell. Anyway, the official release is slated for December 2013. The game will run on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Here’s the Alpha launch trailer.

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30 Comments


  1. Mezmorki says:

    Thanks for the news. I can’t wait to try this out – I’ve been longing for an inspired evolution of the TA concept. Hope this holds up!

    WAIT – you didn’t play TA?

    You should go check out the Spring RTS (http://springrts.com/) and use the Balanced Annihiliation mod (http://balancedannihilation.org/) to get a good sense of what TA is/was all about. The Spring RTS engine is pretty slick.

  2. BTAxis says:

    The price thing makes sense, in a way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really matter, public opinion being what it is. It’s something that’s going to hurt Uber a lot, I fear.

    • Gary says:

      I don’t see a problem with the price. It’s the same amount as the Kickstarter pledge which allowed Alpha access, but folks won’t get the Alpha Commander. So those who pledged on Kickstarter at that level still have a Kickstarter exclusive.

      • BTAxis says:

        Yep, that’s it. But Steam peeps got pretty upset (being used to Early Access being cheaper than retail), and you know the Internet and emotions.

    • Xerberus86 says:

      40$ for preorder?! 60$ for beta and 90$ for alpha….wtf?!

      yeah sure, i would pay 82€ at steam, i’m sorry but definitely not buying this one! i thought distant worlds was expensive but even that i got cheaper during an holiday sale.

      the game looks nice but why should a indie developer make such bad pricing. i understand that they want to be fair to the kickstarters but i don’t know anybody who bould pay 82€ for an early access or full price for an indie game.

      • Gary says:

        I’m not sure Uber Entertainment should be considered an indie developer, although I guess that depends on your definition of “indie developer” :)

        Anyway, if you don’t want to pay for alpha or beta access, then don’t. They aren’t forcing you to, you know :) Just wait for release if you want to play it.

        Many Kickstarter projects allow alpha and beta access at the higher pledge amounts, so as to generate more money. Since the prices were established then, they need to keep those prices now.

  3. Yem says:

    They kind of have to maintain the pricing model, or delay the steam release for a few months. Saying “thanks for the extra money, guys, but everyone can have it for the ‘normal’ price now that we’re on steam” isn’t going to win them any fans, or maintain faith in kickstarter

    But I guess there would be nothing technically preventing them from doing this

  4. Ace of the Stars says:

    This makes no sense at all at least for me, more than 80 bucks for an alpha? Terrible way to do business if you ask me, this will only get them angry fans who were thinking on buying this game.

    Don´t get me wrong, I wish the best for the team but this kind of pricing only hurt the ones making the game. the customers will surelly wait till the price drops at least at a 50 bucks level if not more.

    • Gary says:

      Why would fans be angry? If they don’t want to pay $89 to be in the alpha, they can just wait until the game is released.

  5. Jeff P says:

    There was a time when paying $60+ for a computer game was common, but this is not that time. Thanks to digital delivery, gaming has become much less expensive, which is why there are so many indie developers: they don’t need to produce a physical product then capture shelf space in a store to make money.

    The Kickstarter video for Planetary Annihilation was terrific, but this game is a resource hog and way too expensive for my tastes.

  6. Alien JD says:

    I don’t really like multiplayer games so I’ll sit this one out. But gog.com has Total Annihilation for $5.99. That’s a great great game. Supreme Commander Forged Alliance is $14.99 on steam (or 19.99 for Supreme Commander I and Forged Alliance). Supreme Commander 2 is cheap but not very good.

    Maybe I’m old but I remember when companies gave me stuff in exchange for alpha/beta testing their games. I’m doing them a favor by filing bug reports and helping them work out the kinks. It doesn’t really seem right to pay them extra money to work for their QA department.

  7. Lens Flares Suck says:

    We’ve been paying for games before they were finished for twenty years.

    At least now they’re honest about it.

  8. Thiosk says:

    Is there a single player game here at all?

    The black mage apparently used CONF on me.

    • Allan R says:

      There will be when the full game releases. In the alpha there is only multiplayer.

    • Gary says:

      Yes, there is supposed to be a single-player game, along the lines of Civ games. Which means there won’t be a campaign, but you can “skirmish” against the AI.

  9. Allan R says:

    I backed the kickstarter at the required level for Alpha access. It wouldn’t bother me if they started handing out Alpha or Beta access now for $20 as I didn’t pledge that much money to the project for Alpha access, I was more interested in seeing the project succeed. However, having said that, I can imagine there are people who shelled out that much specifically in order to gain Alpha access.

    When you get right down to it Uber probably doesn’t need any more testers. They have roughly 5000 people in the Alpha from the Kickstarter alone. In addition to that they have however many people purchased the game from their website over the past year, many of whom probably did so in order to gain Alpha access. I think at this stage Uber are better served by not annoying their current community rather than pandering to a few Steam users.

    • Adam Solo says:

      “I backed the kickstarter at the required level for Alpha access (…) I didn’t pledge that much money to the project for Alpha access, I was more interested in seeing the project succeed.” – Allan R

      Exactly, I’m with you there. As I said in the article above, and like you said, I always see a more costly Alpha, or Beta access on Kickstarter as an excuse for people to raise their pledges in order to see the project succeed on Kickstarter (or else there will be no game at all), and to have a chance to have a first look if they want to.

      But now, for the sake of equality sort of speak, they are selling Alpha on Steam for the same price they asked at Kickstarter time. So, this is effectively a “donation” action still (a Kickstarter action) more than a “selling” action. But, the difference here is that they are at mid/late development now.

      Indie pre-orders have been around for a while now, but indie pre-orders where the Alpha costs more than the final product is a first, to my knowledge. Because it makes sense for Alpha to cost less than the final product. The game has already reached Alpha (usually), so the idea with indie pre-orders is to attract more people to support the rest of the development, or to help with ideas and testing.

      Well, in the end people have the final call, and they decide to spend their money where they want, being it a donation, early access, support, help or whatever the reason.

  10. Gabriel88 says:

    It’s a good way to get the game iteration cycle sped up and ready for the real world and a great milestone in the development. They can start using steam’s content updater to distribute the test builds faster and steamline their content delivery modes. As for the price, maybe it’s time for steam to look at creating a closed-loop development scheme for this type of transition? Greenlight is great but it’s not a true incubator

  11. Serge says:

    The problem here is the naming. They shouldn’t have called it “early access” for $$. Instead they should have called it “donation”. And contributors can also participate in alpha/beta testing

  12. csebal says:

    Please imagine the following to be written in a very angry tone in all caps, with plenty of exclamation marks, 1s and ones added at the end of each sentence:

    “I wish there were less idiots on planet earth. I wish people would use common sense before opening their wallets. I wish those selling alpha and beta products would just go away.”

    Disclaimer: this is not about the game or pricing in question, but offering alpha and beta access as premium in general.

    • lammaer says:

      +1 I have exactly the same feelings :)

      Paying MORE for a less complete game? Guys, playing with an alpha game normally called as Software Testing, and I’m actually paid for it (Im a QA lead at a company). Not I am the one who PAYS for it :D

      And as Csebal, I’m not upset on the companies – I’m laughing on the people who actually do the job instead of the developers… not for free.. but actually playing for it :D

      Wish I could setup a QA team here, where the workers actually pay to be allowed to work :D

      People lost patience, and now one step forward after the world of preorders…

      • Serge says:

        As I told – if you will consider it not as buying access, but as donation to accelerate game development, it’s ok. And you also getting right to participate in testing – that mean have chance to steer development a little (very little) in the direction your prefer.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Yes, you can see it as a donation. A mid/late game development donation. That’s not new. Indie pre-orders have been around for a long time now. The thing is, early access Alpha (or Beta) usually costs less, not more, in order to attract new gamers so to benefit from their feedback and testing, and not the other way around. People get a discount to help test the game.

          The only way to look at an Alpha being more expensive than a final product (at mid/late development) is because some people are willing to pay extra to help test the game, and have a chance to provide feedback. That’s the only reason I see. Because the game has already kickstarted, it’s already in full production. It’s at Alpha, 3 months from Beta, 6 months from final release.

          So, are we witnessing the official birth of the new gamer who becomes a sponsor/tester/gamer and that pays more (not less or the same, but more) than a simple old-fashioned gamer because it’s actually more fun and rewarding to help test and shape a mid/late development game (and this is the key part: mid/late development) than to just simply wait a bit longer and play it? Something to think about.

  13. Ace of the Stars says:

    This game is in the 3rd place as one of the top sellers on Steam? WTF? Is everyone mad? Paying 80 bucks just to play an unfinished game, full of bugs?

    Come on people, you´re better than this, don´t you see that from now on developers will say “Hell, we’ve got a game most people want to play, let´s push this price tag way up even if it´s still on alpha, they will gladly pay for a chance to play it sooner than most gamers!”.

    I understand they want to put the same price as it was on kickstarter for the alpha, but they didn´t think it through, most gamers will back away from this and will eventually buy it (if they forget this pre-launch madness that is) when the price goes way down.

    Simply put, no way you should pay 80 bucks for an alpha.

    • Gary says:

      Obviously, there are people who disagree with you. Those would be the people who pushed Planetary Annihilation alpha into 3rd place :)

      • Ace of the Stars says:

        True, and I hope they don´t feel cheated, but the question about pricing remains to be discussed, some developers might want to do the same and we are facing a 80 bucks or so releases from now on…

    • csebal says:

      I hear the game is quite boring and full of bugs at the moment.

      Which is to be expected for an alpha, but hey..

      Sad thing, many of those people buying this will try the alpha, realize it is no fun and never again touch it, maybe not even after release. I’m just not certain whether allowing people access to a game so early is a good or bad thing as far as the quality and size of the eventual playerbase goes.

  14. dayrinni says:

    I don’t know the reasoning why the price is what it is but at first glance it looks pretty steep to me, especially for an early access version. This is just my opinion based on just looking at the price and reading a few comments.

    However, this is a game I’ve been looking at for some time and was going to most likely purchase it after release. Hopefully they can deliver.

  15. TheSisko says:

    Hm, basically I think 90 bucks for an alpha is to much. On the other hand, if you think about it, how many people who actually play alphas/betas actually DO the required work and dont just play and complain to their friends about a buggy game?

    Early backers got in cheaper, so basically the people who want to play now gotta fork over the cash for the extra servers now… just a thought ^^

    • Gary says:

      Actually, the Kickstarter backers ALSO paid $90 for Alpha access. There was no early discount.


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