While it’s true that some people seem to be too thick to grasp the concept that Early Access = Preorder + Alpha/Beta access, it’s also true that Steam is littered with developers who put a program out as EA and then fail to ever really get the product to release state. Or at some point they just quit and say “ok, THIS is the release build” even though it’s barely improved over the last few.
As a result, Early Access has gotten a bad rap overall even though it’s really mainly a few unscrupulous devs/pubs and some stupid consumers that have created that rep. Like with everything else in today’s world, a tiny minority can have a disproportionate impact by making their behavior stand out and push people’s buttons.
Personally, I will bite for EA when it’s something I have every intention of purchasing on release day, so getting it early (often with a discount) while it’s still being finished is fine. If it’s something I’m on the fence about, I don’t do it and I wait for the release. I buy it then if the reviews come out positive. If the release reviews aren’t good, I wait for patches/sales later on to make the product worth it to me.
I just don’t understand why this isn’t the pattern for ALL consumers.