A number of people have posted on these forums regarding their disappointment in either the stability or the raw state of Demigod Beta 1 and then Beta 2 (as well as the Entrenchment expansion for Sins Of A Solar Empire). For those who were unaware that the pre-order allowed access to a Beta rather than a full & complete game - due to exposure only to the product listing in the Impulse store for example - I have both sympathy and understanding. Not everyone is plugged into forums, and the listings could have been listed as "beta" incarnations.
Otherwise however I am afraid I cannot sympathize. From my own perspective everything regarding the beta process on these titles - from these companies - has been extremely clear. I have never once been surprised by terms or conditions beyond a sudden unexpected beta version update getting released before its predicted schedule. From the very moment the products were announced it was clear what conditions applied to pre-orderers, what such would allow you to partake of before the real retail game was released. GPG and Stardock and Ironclad have been very forthright in every regard.
As for being disappointed in a beta, welcome to the world of beta code. Thats why many people opt not to participate in betas - sure, you get to contribute to the development of a game you may enjoy, but a number of caveats apply. You may become sick of the game by the time it gets released. You may become so familiar with the elements of the game that by retail a great deal of the 'magic' may have disappeared (since despite polish and flouirishes you know how things work). The final development of the game may take a path you do not favour, turning the experience into one you are not as in love with as you were with the initial concept. Net code - which is arguably the most challenging aspect of a computer game - might be the part of the code base that *requires* the most testing and patience. Some people get paid to do this, remember.
I recall my experience or lack thereof with the beta for SEGA`s Universe At War from Petroglyph Studios. The beta looked intriguing, but the first taste of actual gameplay took place for me only when the demo was officially released and the beta had long since ended. I was able to comment upon the menu interface, my failed experience with Games For Windows LIVE, and the overall feel of the subject matter. To be blunt, that beta sucked, and not necessarily due to any slackness of the developers: I volunteered, I contributed what I could, missed out on the fun to be had, yet participated and was grateful to do so to that degree. It was generous of SEGA and Petroglyph to indulge folks, simply unfortunate that things worked the way they did.
Games For Windows LIVE sucks.
By contrast the Impulse experience has been remarkable. With Demigod we have thus far played on 6 (?) maps, with 6 of 8 initial Demigods (maybe more! MORE! MORE! ... he said hinting`shly), with a multitude of item types, with access to special persistent items, with a range of flag types, and with access to citadel upgrades. Thats alot of elements from the full game (!). With Entrenchment, we get to play with newer models & textures, graphical enhancements that keep flowing from the art departments & engineers, the primary assets from Entenchment including Starbases/Starbase tech trees and Minelayers, and new net code. Unfortunately that code is problematic, but again its a beta. Thats the whole point of a beta. The developers who are already busy dealing not only with their current projects but future ones - including additional expansions to the very games we currently speak of - leap onto the forums to read our comments & complaints, sifting through, absorbing, and **very often** discussing issues with us (the gamers). Now, if you object to the gameplay, finding it somehow unfun or not your cup of tea, thats fine, but to object to the actual beta process and the overall code quality is I must declare both unfair and nonsensical. These folks are civil and responsive. The code is overall top-notch work. The manner in which these betas have been conducted deserves praise, not condemnation.