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Is “It’s still in Beta/Early Access” still a valid defense against critique in the modern everchanging state of games? Has versioning/update based development changed how you look at games?

The trend in gaming has been for time now to get the game into as many hands as quickly as possible. Games are marketing "sign-up for the pre-alpha", "Now in early access", and "download your exclusive beta key" at the end of their initial reveal trailers these days. While I understand that developers want people to play their game it seems in my experience that the majority of games these days need significantly more "time in the oven" (to make a poor cooking analogy) before they are open for general consumption.

Which got me thinking, is it fair to judge a game solely on what you played rather than what it eventually will become? Let's you play version .01 of a game (paid or free-to-play) and it's not enjoyable after an honest try and you stop playing. If you voice good-faith critique with the game, there will inevitably be someone or group of people saying it's in beta/alpha/early access and you should be wait for the developer(s) to improve the product. While I want all games to become good (the world certainly needs more good games of all types), is it the player's responsibility to see the vision for the game rather than judging it for what it currently is?

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Fast forward, two years later version 1.0 is completed. The game is considered to be a significantly better game now. Is it valid to hold your experience of version .01 as your primary view of the game? To clarify, I mean to say whichever version of the game your initial gameplay experience with the game is. Perhaps version 1.0 would be the game you wanted to play in the first place, but it is okay to still feel "burned" after the disappointment of version .01 (or whichever version you initially played) that you played? There are tons of games that are "good now" but started out in that same state I mentioned above.

Is there a intellectually integrous way to critique games when they aren't yet what they hope to become? Or is it fair to simply judge them as they are? What are your thoughts on update based development and such? Personally I have committed myself to simply wait for games' "full release" before giving them a try. However, I don't think it's inherently bad at all for games to grow and improve over time.

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