I don’t mind the idea of selected people getting advanced previews because although others get left out for a little while, it’s only a matter of time until everyone gets access, so someone who can’t afford advanced access only has to be patient. It creates two tiers, but only for a limited duration.
How effective it is would depend on implementation though.
A short lag and lowish prices would be sustainable, but if the ‘sneak preview’ tier were too costly then it wouldn’t attract enough people, and if the duration between ‘sneak preview’ and ‘everyone’ were too long then games might suffer from lack of input and people would be more likely to feel like they’re missing out.
That said, thinking about that has made me realise that theoretically we ought to be able to create topics that only forum members can view, which might encourage more people to join the forum.
(Though more people joining the forum would make funding the forum even more important than before.)
I don’t know about Kickstarter, but I think Steam copied its award system from Reddit.
I agree that it’s probably not a good idea though.
I like the idea of users being able to give each other awards,
but I feel it would be easy to abuse if implemented incorrectly,
and that allowing people to buy awards (to give to others) could be easily abused.
The only way I can think for an award system to work is if users are granted awards to give to other uses based on their time spent visiting the site and reading others’ comments. If you based it on giving or receiving likes and making comments then it would encourage people to just leave simple, unnuanced likely-to-be-upvoted comments like “this game is great” and to like-spam everything. Whereas if you base it on time spent reading comments then short of creating an army of sockpuppets it becomes a lot harder to game the system, and it rewards regular users the most.
That’s not to say I necessarily think that’s what we should do, just that if there were such a system, I think that would be the best way to handle it.