Prison Architect has clocked up an impressive 250,000 sales, making it Introversion’s best-selling game, a breakout hit if you like. Not bad for a game that isn’t even out yet.

Introversion’s management sim depicts prison life as you make it your goal to lock up as many citizens as possible, and avoid a good shivving in the process; Prison Architect often has a knack for making Oz look like Bambi, as prisoners run riot with makeshift weapons and dinner trays. It’s notched up over $800,000 in sales since not releasing, begging the question, when is a game actually released?

Prison Architect Allows You To Create Your Very Own Alcatraz - With Considerably More Escapes

A growing trend among the PC gaming world is to allow a title to be purchased in its Alpha state, with the promise of a free copy of the final game when it finally releases. Prison Architect was released as a paid-for Alpha pre-order way back in September 2012, but is treading the fine line of being an unreleased title despite over a quarter of a million units being sold.

Introversion’s Mark Morris said "We never would have believed that one of our games would be so popular and we want to thank everyone that is supporting Prison Architect and helping us turn it into a concrete reality.

This investment by our alpha customers is enabling us to turn Prison Architect into the game we envisioned without having to make any creative sacrifices or cut any corners – this is the very reason we’re proud to be independent.

It’s no doubt a fantastic achievement for the once-struggling developer to have fought its way out of a corner like this, but it’s sometimes hard not to be cynical of the current trend of selling unfinished products to fund further development. Of course without it, the game probably would have dropped the soap long ago, so there’s certainly an argument to be had for paid-for Alpha access.

Have any of you stumped up for an Alpha copy of this title yet?

What’s your favourite method of creating prison carnage?

Let us know below!