betas are the apex of the pre-launch experience. After months and even years of hearing about a title, discussing it rabidly, and scouring the internet for information on it, fans are finally given the chance to try it out for themselves. For many, this is wonderful, a drink of water to a parched gaming soul. For many, but not for all.
You see, betas can be a doubled-edged sword, capable of hurting as much as helping. They can be a boon to those who truly want to help a game's development by testing for bugs, they can help players decide if this is a product worth purchasing, and they can assist in getting one's "game legs" before the main event begins. However, betas have been known to foster an environment of entitlement ("Why isn't this game 100% polished? I judge it fail!") while robbing the newness of an MMO that has yet to release.
So, overall, do you deem that betas are a boon to the community or a bust? Are they useful tools for both developers and players, or are they nothing but glorified demos that harm more than help? Put your vote where your opinion is after the jump!