OK... I'll bite. I know I shouldn't but I will anyway
Have you guys actually been following development? You can buy almost all available ships, armours, weapon and ship equipment upgrades, weapons, etc. in game now with in game money. And they have persistence for that type of purchase, even though still alpha. The last several patches we have retained everything we have purchased with in game money. So at this point you can purchase a game package with real world money and then earn your way to pretty much everything available. It'll be wiped at various stages, it is alpha, and at launch so everyone starts fresh, but that is all expected.
Sure spending big money on a game isn't everyone's cup-of-tea, and that's cool. But its only an issue if there is no return on investment. If you have been paying attention to game development progress at all, you'd see that isn't the case here and the volume of game play and features added with every patch has continued to increase. They've delivered way more than a lot of other early access games.
It really perplexes me why people get bent out of shape by this game so much, given the myriad of other pursuits people dump their money into... ?
I think it's the attachment that people have on how long this game has been around. Without doing actual research on this game it's easy to look at it and say that this game has been in development for a decade and everyone that paid money into it should feel really bad about themselves .
I've personally taken a step back from it and check up on it once in a while. I've bought the ships I wanted a long time ago and I'm not planning on buying anymore until the game is released and in the meantime I've got loads of other games to keep me occupied.
Truth is , this company is very new in the grand scheme of things. It's easy to complain that x amount of progress isn't done when y amount of money is being added to the company but developing a game of this scope takes time, a lot of it. No matter how much money you throw at it , it won't be as quick as people want it to be. Hiring good talented developers/Artists/Network Engineers ect. is a long process that's still ongoing to this day and will go on even after the game is released.
Like Lysin has mentioned , there are several ships that can be earned in game now and the gameplay loops are coming in more frequently with every patches they release. It's a slow process , I won't deny that. I found myself burnt out a while back waiting for mechanics or ships to release but to say that this game offers no gameplay at all or that it's simply a "demo" would be false.
I'm torn about the crowdfunding because on one hand it secures money that they'll need to run this company for years to come but at some point it has to stop or at least disable the ability to buy ships with real money. In the early days they've mentioned that a specific amount of in game currency could be bought on a monthly basis with real money and that would be enough to keep things running . I guess time will tell, I am somewhat puzzled as to how they're still bringing in 100's of thousand's of dollars every week with no ship sales but I remain optimistic as this shows that even after all those years there are a lot of people out there still interested in playing this game.