Richard Garriot aka Lord British aka General British has been talking at this years Game Conference about the pros and cons in the way Tabula Rasa was developed and delivered and whilst, for the most part, he dishes out praise, he does reserve some criticism for the development team.
I actually think the biggest mistake was made not by the marketing department, but by the development team. We invited too many people into the beta when the game was still too broken.
Apparently the game at this stage just wasn't fun enough to justify inviting that many people and now, they are finding that in order to get those people to come back, they are having to go out of their way.
As we’ve begun to sell the game, the people who hadn’t participated in the beta became our fast early-adopters. And the people who did participate in the beta, we’ve had to go back to and say ‘look, look, we promise: we know it wasn’t fun two months ago, but we fixed all that. Really, come try it again.’ We’ve had to go out and develop free programs to invite those people back for free before they go buy it. So the beta process, which we used to think of as a QA process, is really a marketing process.
He did praise the Guild Wars beta method however, saying that the family-and-friends beta period was just long enough and that the open beta was also, just right.