This is a open question to both the development team at StrangeLoopGames and anyone who thinks they have something to add.
Now, I'm personally very impressed by what this game has to offer currently, and the additional features that have been promised, but I want to play devil's advocate and ask some questions some people might find uncomfortable.
First and foremost, I notice this game is (at least in part) funded by kickstarter. This might not seem like a problem to some people, but my personal opinion is one of immediate suspicion. Call me a cynic, but too many kickstarter projects have promised much and delivered little of what was initially promised - what's to say this game won't be any different?
Kickstarter-funded projects also seem to me to have an inherent problem of lacking a clear project plan - at least, they don't usually have a plan that's made immediately clear to potential backers/buyers. For example, which features are currently in the game, and which aren't? - all the material I've read on the site so far has been a little hazy in regards to what's actually in the game in it's current state.
Additionally, when is the game expected to be "complete"? I understand that the game is currently in early alpha, and certainly wouldn't expect the development team to lock themselves into a set release date at this point - but an estimated completion date would smooth out some of the issues I have with the game at the moment. The game has apparently been in development for almost two years, and there's no talk what so ever of when, or even if, the game will be available on popular digital marketplaces like Steam or Origin, which is a little worrying as it brings the question of how buyers might go about obtaining refunds if they aren't happy with the game.
Finally, I'd like to point out to anyone reading this that I'm not trying to "trash talk" the developers or the kickstarter backers. I really like the ideas that this game represents, and I really want it to be a successful project and will be following the game's progress with a great amount of interest and think it will be a fantastic game when it's fully released.
So i want to put a small disclaimer here !!! Before i start. I was a backer long before i became sort of a member with a tag with my name that gives me (SLG Admin) but i wanted to comment you what made me decide to back eco back in the days since you concern is pretty valid and people should always think about before backing. So this reply will be my personal opinion i had back then and not an official reply from SLG. Just to point this out =)
You are right with your first point! Lots of kickstarter projects get abandoned and some are eve there just to cheat people out of there money. That is sadly though one of the risk people have to take when backing projects there from small and unknown companies. Though there are some thinks people can do to have a higher chance to back project that will see it trough to the end. So let me make an example:
I did some research back in the days when i originally was backing Eco. First of all is what games have been commercially released. At first look there are not that many for SLG yet But there is one game Called Vessel that even got very good reviews even though it got pretty few of these. You also have some other smaller projects. But for now Vessel is a very good example of the skills of SLG. This also tells you that SLG is at first glance not a company that starts a game and never delivers. It really helps if a company has delivered at least one game that is good personally for me. Next question would be founding. We all know that most devs ask to little on kickstarter. Eco's initial KS goal was 100.000$ well that would give not allot of month of development time actually. KS got around 200.000$ in that would maybe cover 6 month of cost? maybe more ? I dont know how much it cost to run a company in a month but i am pretty sure that this cant be cheap. You have office cost, developers want to get payed and not minimum wage but a good payment too ( you need skilled people especially in small teams). So that seems to be to little right ? So what made me confident back then ? well its this article here that i read http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-06-09-introducing-eco-an-ecosystem-sim-where-everyone-must-nurture-the-same-planet. This has allot of talk about eco in school but also has a link to that eco got funding from the us government with a quite large amount.
So pointing this out This also answers sort of your second question. This means you also have a rough estimate when eco should be done. That is somewhere in the second half of 2017. Now Estimating a release date is always impossible and dead lines are rarely kept since there is always something delaying a development. Anyway this means and also with our current official goal the 1.0 release should be around by the end of 2017. The plan is to keep on developing as long as its financial viable and keep on expanding eco (a bit like other games did ) Because there are so many more cool ideas that could have been added to eco but most likely wont make it into the final release at first.
So i hope that gives you some insight why i backed eco back then and what made me decide to back it.