With the oncoming feature "Unfinished," the question seems prudent to ask, what does the community feel is the proper referent of criticism regarding an unfinished game?
Before we can answer this question, it seems necessary to clarify, just what are unfinished games? I observe that the term "unfinished" suggests a standard by which we can measure a game's progress, viz. an ideal "finished" state. Yet, can we accurately say that such a standard exists? I do not think we can.
To expound, I assume (although I do not know) that game designers, as a subset of designers, tend to be attuned to the field of Design. The concepts "participatory design" and "rapid iteration" have a lot of cachet in Design today, and young designers likely apply them to their own efforts.
The "big idea" behind these terms is to offload some of the responsibility for good design onto the user. By offloading this responsibility, producers effectively transform products into services, obliging the user to constantly buy back into the product by assuming a role in a bi-directional supply chain. In purchasing, using, and, then, talking about the "unfinished" product, the user thereby contributes labor to the design process. Hence, user insights propel a design feedback loop, ideally increasing iteration speed and reducing the risk associated with introducing a fully formed new product into the market. This bi-directional model is in contrast to traditional supply chain models, which frame the user simply as the beneficiary at the chain's terminus.
In the case of unfinished games, I suspect the aforementioned terms have influenced the producers' business plans. The producers probably don't even really know what their game should be (what user needs or desires they aim to fulfill with it), but expect its intention to emerge from accumulated data as they observe user interactions with what is essentially a prototype masquerading as a product. In short, I suspect the designers of these games are trying very hard not to be creative. Rather, they mean to be good information processors. "Unfinished" games may simply be a form of exploratory research in the guise of "human-centered design," "democratization of the medium," or something of that cloth. In a way, the content of an "unfinished" game is not even part of the true product, but a means of discovering what that product should be.
So, is it right to criticize "unfinished" games as games? Or (as I mean to suggest), should we criticize them on their ability to elicit and incorporate user insights? If they are not properly games, but market research for an eventual game, should we not criticize them as such? As consumers, what object of criticism can we identify that, thus criticized, will lead to the best product, the most fun game for us to play?