Because software was working without the need of downloading tons of patches. Why do we actually need to update software in the first place?
In the past, the only way to obtain a software was by delivering the physical media to the recipient. There was a cost of media itself and shipment (and probably much more of which I’m not aware of), it couldn’t be cheap. While comparing to the current times, it is just a matter of uploading an update to the server and push to users.
The product had to be fully functional at the first official release. Moreover, if the function has been promised, it was included in the final release. Not, like now, added after some time, with another update/release.
It’s like paying for a 3 meal course in the restaurant and receiving only 2 of them. The last course is going to be delivered in “future”, chef will let you know when it’s ready to be picked up.
Early access is quite the new thing in the software world. It is nothing but paying for having access to unfinished product before it’s “official” release.
In other words, we pay for being a guinea pig. Developers, rather than paying for solid tests performed by professional testers – they sell it (!) to customers. I could understand a free early preview, but paid preview?
Internet gave us all huge possibilities on being up-to-date with everything. I know that developers love to share their software with the rest of the world as soon as possible. On the one hand you can provide us with the newest and (hopefully!) best versions of your software, on the other hand we can always benefit from your newest inventions.
Dear developers, whenever you decide to take my money for your product, please make sure it’s polished and working as good as on your marketing materials.