Early Access on Steam is an interesting idea. A game that’s still in development makes early builds available for people that want to pay to test them out. This gives the company some extra money to use on the game’s development while allowing some people to get any early taste of the game. This system does come with some danger to the game developer, however.
Many of the people that pick up Early Access Steam games are YouTube gamers who are always looking for new games and new content for their gaming channels. Picking up Early Access games allows them to feature games that aren’t available to the general public while giving them a new game to generate new video content with. They often do long, detailed series with these games. That means that before the game even officially launches, it’s already been thoroughly explored by many YouTubers and their viewers.
When the game does finally come out, all of the YouTubers and their viewers have already done everything there is to do in the game and are no longer interested, reducing the number of sales the game can have after launch.
It seems like more and more games are using the Early Access system to generate funds early on which also seems to encourage the games to stay in Early Access for longer rather than becoming fully polished and released.
So while offering a game for Early Access may get the company some extra development funds, it also can reduce their overall sales.