Facepunch Studios' Rust will receive its official release next month, more than four years after it first hit Steam Early Access.
Rust launched on Early Access in December 2013, and it was an immediate hit: $3 million in revenue in two weeks, and one million unit sales in the space of two months. It has been on Early Access for so long that, in December 2016, Facepunch founder Garry Newman attempted to break what he saw as a loop of unwittingly subjective negative feedback by inviting "bored" players to leave the game behind.
On February 8, Rust will take the next step and leave Early Access altogether. In a blog post announcing the decision, Newman said that Facepunch is, "not planning any big reveals, launch parties, around the world tours or cash prize giveaways for this event. We're not going to move staff onto other projects. It's very much going to happen without much fuss. It's business as usual."
He also advised the community to not see the move as a claim that the game is finished. Rather, it is a move toward a "more stable" development process for Rust, in which updates will be more rigorously tested and issued monthly, and there will be two versions of the game running concurrently: a Main Branch, with monthly tested updates and smaller fixes, and a Staging Branch, with daily updates, both of which can be installed at the same time.
"Please try not to compare the game to some other finished game or some idealised version you have in your head," Newman said. "Compare the game now to how it was when we entered Early Access. That's the delta that we feel qualifies us to leave Early Access."
Newman also said: "We feel like if Early Access didn't exist and we had been making the game in secret, we'd be happy to put it on Steam now."
As part of the transition, Rust will also be more expensive to buy, its price rising from $19.99 to $34.99, or the regional equivalent. Perhaps anticipating a backlash, given the claims that leaving Early Access will be "business as usual" for the game, Newman stated that the price hike "sucks."
"It's going to cost more, but this was always the deal. And it's not like we're increasing the price to $60 without any warning," he said. "This is one of the main reasons we've decided to post this blog rather than quietly slipping out of Early Access. We felt like this is something you'll all want to be warned about."
Studio Wildcard came under fire for raising the price of Ark: Survival Evolved to $60 as it left Early Access. At that time, Newman defended its position, responding to DayZ creator Dean Hall that Wildcard's activities have not harmed its ability to make money. "Maybe we could learn something," he said.