Hey Folks, (scroll down for the TL;DR version)
I just felt like I need to get something off my chest. The whole idea of paying and being involved in a beta just sounds dirty to me.
EA did it with BF4 (the early access dlc was basically a beta that we paid 40-50 dollars for with premium) This imo is why it's bad and on top of that the game is still janky.
In the past I've been involved in some really awesome betas. Some of the good ones were: City of Heroes and Lotro. In those two games I just mentioned there was dev and player collaboration whether it was a Q&A session, forum input, or in the actual game through events. And most of the betas I've been involved in were by invite. Free essentially to play a game I might buy and help out with the development. Its a necessary evil that must be done with software to work out the kinks.
I just get the feeling with new models and marketing of games (kickstarter and steam early access) and that it's ok to pay for alpha and beta access. And while I don't totally oppose this sort of marketing to me I have to take a step back and say: This is not what I paid for. There was a time where they invited us to play and interacted with us players for free. By invitation is the key here. We all get we only have access to beta software and not the final gold version of the game. That's ok. It's still an ugly business imo if you have to pay and then don't go as far as other dev houses go when they freely invite players and interact with them somehow. I'm seeing a lack of dev presence interacting with the audience with these ugly paid alphas and betas.
Some 'ugly' beta/alpha I've done: Battlefield 4 (pay to get early access), Firefall (pay to get beta access), Rust (20 dollars on steam early access), Tribes: ascend(early game access and beta if you pay the retail amount). Don't get me wrong on any of these games. Most of these games are awesome in a matter of speaking. I'm just saying they all lack that dev/player interaction and we have to pay for it to play. I wonder if gone are the days that betas meant something and not just a marketing tool for publishers to cash in on and then deliver less than an invited beta.
ESO is a good example of another ugly beta. Sure it was invite but look how that game turned out even with player interaction with the devs. Just another marketing tool.
(TL:DR) Betas have become, in my opinion, just another marketing tool for publishers to cash in on. Invites are gone and what is left is paid for access and not going that extra mile to get player/dev interaction together.