I think that idsoftware made the right move by putting a price tag on the early access in steam for this stage of the development.

Imagine if the game was thrown out there as f2p right now on steam and you had a craptonne of people trying it out with all the current bugs, server issues, incomplete or missing features like offline matches vs bots and no ranked competitive matchmaking, no CTF, and so on.

Right now the majority of people who have actually paid for the early access are people who liked quake to begin with, hence the 82% positive reviews.

IMO if this was f2p right now, the review % would plummet and most people would play 1 match and never touch it again, similar to what happened with QL. Since 2014 about 1.5million people have played 1 match of quake live, but the retention rate of those players is almost non-existent for obvious reasons. Info found here: https://steamdb.info/app/282440/graphs/

When the game is finally out of the early access and they release it as a finished product and f2p on steam, and the player counts are still low then you can start to cry about it.