An upcoming MMOG title I have been looking forward to with a lot of glee is Love, the one-man-band game currently in development by Eskil Steenberg. Everything, from the game's engine to the graphics renderer to the AI, has been developed from scratch solely by Eskil, a pretty monumental achievement when you consider the small armies behind the development of games like World of Warcraft or Warhammer Online. Eskil recently released an alpha client of the game that, while not actually playable, would be used to generate hardware statistics as well as tell him the level of interest for the game. That level was apparently 11, because days later the first playable alpha client was made available to interested customers.
"Customers" is the operative word here because Love boasts what I believe has to be a first (save perhaps outside of Second Life, oh snap); to access the alpha client you have to purchase a 30-day voucher for a fee of 3 euros.
While this is pretty unorthodox, it necessitates repeating: this is being developed out of pocket entirely by one person who has to cover the servers and bandwidth in order to actually offer the game. And 3 euro comes out to roughly six USD, so this is really a pittance. It's also a decision– either pay to check it out now or wait for the full version. When most MMOG alphas and betas are under NDAs and offered to selected individuals and not the public at large this offers a pretty unique opportunity for players to see the game a lot earlier than they normally would, even if its state is in flux.
Nevertheless the complainers have been out in full swing, "outraged" at paying the price of a Starbucks frappuccino for early access. I wouldn't normally take the time to complain about something like this myself but I really have difficulty with the increasingly pervasive mentality of entitlement that stretches across the internet. It's also doubly upsetting given that Love is entirely the work of one person, a fact that keeps getting ignored by more and more whiners.
One comment on Eskil's blog, in particular, was the most ire-rising for me:
I hope you plan to do something for the players that you are requiring to pay to test your game, even if it is as simple as as not wiping their accounts or giving them name selection priority at live. These testers will likely be your most loyal fans, and you requiring them to pay money to alpha test the game can and will be taken as crass and unappreciative of their time.
Your post about not guaranteeing that playtime will carryover to Beta seems to indicate that you do not plan to do so, and thus that you do not respect the time they are donating to polish your unfinished product. If that is the case, you may want to look into hiring a more experienced business manager to filter your company's interactions with its customers. Maybe you can use the money you earn from the first-ever "paid alpha" (which FYI, you just invented).
Personally, I grabbed a voucher the moment I saw they were available, and even though I didn't have the slightest idea of what I was doing and died too many times to count the game is just amazing to look at. The entirety of it is procedurally driven and the art style of the game is deeply impressionistic, like walking through a Monet painting. For six bucks it was worth it to me, if only to finally whet my appetite for a game I've been excited about for months.
Hopefully the people complaining the loudest about this slight get some perspective; hopefully further this unnecessary aggression doesn't dissuade Eskil from continuing development in the face of a hostile minority. I know I'm extremely eager to play the full game and can't wait for its completed release.