I have a game that I plan to put on Kickstarter, but I want to get some objective playtesting feedback from other people first. Offering it here on TGC would be a good way to do that.
However, there are several ways I could design it using TGC's components. The resulting cost would range from ~$25 (using the cheapest possible stuff) to ~$40+ (using the best stuff available), and neither of those prices includes any profit margin.
Obviously, anything from TGC would just be a prototype — nicer than what I cranked out of my own printer anyway, but not as nice as a custom order from some factory — and if it were successfully funded on Kickstarter, the "Official Edition" would be of much higher quality.
So the question is: from the perspective of a potential Playtester, which is more desirable? A Super Low-Budget No-Frills Economy Prototype? Or a more expensive TGC's Best Possible Deluxe Prototype?
And I suppose there's also a third possibility… I could make a totally free Print & Play version and post it on BGG. But a homemade printed version would only save so much, because there'd still be a bunch of components to print, and it wouldn't have much visual appeal at all.
I'm also considering using TGC to make some components for a kickstarter. I've read there are better quality manufacturers for playing cards (if you're ordering a large quanity) - but what about the laser cut tiles from TCG? Are those inferior quality as well?
To answer the OP's question - I feel like once you move beyond your own testing with a paper prototype you should try to create something that at least somewhat reflects the experience you want to deliver. The quality of your product will impact the user's perception of the game. Furthermore, if someone is going to take the time to playtest your game for you, I think it's nice to reward them with a physical product that is either free or deeply discounted.