* ICSE 2018 *
Sun 27 May - Sun 3 June 2018 Gothenburg, Sweden
Thu 31 May 2018 11:00 - 11:20 at H2 room - Empirical Studies of Code Chair(s): Natalia Juristo

“Early access” is a release strategy for software that allows consumers to purchase an unfinished version of the software. In turn, consumers can influence the software development process by giving developers early feedback. This early access model has become increasingly popular through digital distribution platforms, such as Steam which is the most popular distribution platform for games. The plethora of options offered by Steam to communicate between developers and game players contribute to the popularity of the early access model. The model is considered a success by the game development community as several games using this approach have gained a large user base (i.e., owners) and high sales. On the other hand, the benefits of the early access model have been questioned as well.

In this paper, we conduct an empirical study on 1,182 Early Access Games (EAGs) on the Steam platform to understand the characteristics, advantages and limitations of the early access model. We find that 15% of the games on Steam make use of the early access model, with the most popular EAG having as many as 29 million owners. 88% of the EAGs are classified by their developers as so-called “indie” games, indicating that most EAGs are developed by individual developers or small studios.

We study the interaction between players and developers of EAGs and the Steam platform. We observe that on the one hand, developers update their games more frequently in the early access stage. On the other hand, the percentage of players that review a game during its early access stage is lower than the percentage of players that review the game after it leaves the early access stage. However, the average rating of the reviews is much higher during the early access stage, suggesting that players are more tolerant of imperfections in the early access stage. The positive review rate does not correlate with the length or the game update frequency of the early access stage.

Based on our findings, we suggest game developers to use the early access model as a method for eliciting early feedback and more positive reviews to attract additional new players. In addition, our findings suggest that developers can determine their release schedule without worrying about the length of the early access stage and the game update frequency during the early access stage.

Thu 31 May
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11:00 - 12:30: Empirical Studies of CodeTechnical Papers / Journal first papers at H2 room
Chair(s): Natalia JuristoFacultad de Informática - UPM
11:00 - 11:20
An empirical study of early access games on the Steam platform
Journal first papers
Dayi LinQueen's University, Cor-Paul BezemerQueen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Ahmed E. HassanQueen's University
Link to publication DOI Pre-print
11:20 - 11:40
Correctness Attraction: A Study of Stability of Software Behavior Under Runtime Perturbation
Journal first papers
Benjamin DanglotUniversity Lille 1 and INRIA, Phlippe Preux, Benoit BaudryKTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, Martin MonperrusKTH Royal Institute of Technology
DOI Pre-print
11:40 - 12:00
On the Diffuseness and the Impact on Maintainability of Code Smells: A Large Scale Empirical Investigation
Journal first papers
Fabio Palomba, Gabriele BavotaUniversità della Svizzera italiana (USI), Massimiliano Di PentaUniversity of Sannio, Fausto Fasano, Rocco OlivetoUniversity of Molise, Andrea De LuciaUniversity of Salerno
12:00 - 12:20
Accurate and Efficient Refactoring Detection in Commit History
Technical Papers
Nikolaos TsantalisConcordia University, Canada, Matin Mansouri, Laleh M-Eshkevari, Davood MazinanianUniversity of British Columbia, Danny DigSchool of EECS at Oregon State University
Pre-print Media Attached
12:20 - 12:30
Q&A in groups
Technical Papers