"When we talk about Early Access, it typically means a game that you buy and it evolves over time to become 1.0, so you're buying it before it's 1.0," Charla said. "Minecraft on PC is a perfect example. It's something developers have been asking for, and we are listening really closely to developers, but I don't have anything to announce on that right now."
Though Early Access-style programs are not yet available for Xbox One or PS4, gamers on those systems have been able to play in-development versions of upcoming games. Sony offered a Destiny alpha to PlayStation 4 owners last month, while a beta for the game will be available beginning this week (and it's coming to Xbox, too). In addition, there was a Battlefield Hardline beta on PS4 (coming to all platforms this fall), and Halo 5: Guardians will get a beta on Xbox One starting in December.
Steam's Early Access program, however, is perhaps most associated with indie titles, not the kind of AAA games mentioned above. On Steam, some Early Access games from smaller studios, released as "alpha versions," have been criticized for being unfinished or broken. Microsoft no doubt wants to preserve the integrity of the overall player experience, and this issue is something Charla said Microsoft is taking under consideration as it thinks about its own potential Early Access program.
"It's a really interesting issue with digital marketplaces, and it's something our store and marketplace team think about all the time," Charla said. "There's a lot of heavy deep thinkers, experts, PhDs working on these problems at Xbox every day--not just for the Xbox store, but for Windows Store and Windows Phone. Our goal is to have a rational marketplace, where good games are visible and sell well."
Would you like to see an Early Access-style program for Xbox One some day? Let us know in the comments below!