I've read each & every line of each & every of the 54 previous replies on this thread, and I must recognize that there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. To simplify this complex debate :
On the one hand, it is true that « I » (in fact, my dad's Visa!) have paid full price for a very incomplete game : for example, when « I » paid, only 1 map & only 3 demigods were available !
But on the other hand, when « I » paid, there was an obvious, overt contract which I willingly entered into with StarDock.
I do not perceive that SD lied. The corporation offered a product (finished Demigod game + a series of pre-release builds) at a certain price ... and I willingly said "Yes". If other corporations offer other forms of beta & pre-order schemes, that's their business privilege, as it is the privilege of StarDock to formulate its own business proposals -- at any price that it wants, as long as the terms & conditions are overtly revealed. I do not perceive that SD has deceived me in any fashion ... and I am the one, at 21 of age, who said "Yes" to Stardock's business proposal.
Also, and that's important > As kryo has stated, a total or partial refund can be obtained :
1. A 100% refund if there are significant technical issues that make the beta programme unplayable on one's computer ;
2. A partial (75%) refund for any reason [EDIT > But there seems to be a time limit for that type of refund.]
3. A 100% refund for other special reasons, if one achieves a successful negotiation with SD Sales (where really nice people work).
But I surmise that this thread might incite StarDock executives to sit down in a meeting and re-evaluate, at the very least, the manner in which the pre-order-with-beta-participation package is offered, as a product requiring payment -- and especially, the formal manner in which the contractual info is presented to potential buyers.
My father had previously participated in a few such SD processes (GC, GC2 + expansions, and SINS), so I knew what I was getting into when I signed in the DEMIGOD beta process ... but some new customers might not quite understand the contractual parameters of the offer.
Making the info much more explicit & clear would certainly not hurt. On the other hand, the question of how much to charge for a pre-order-plus-beta package is a more delicate issue -- which might require more meetings of the StarDock archonts.