Star Citizen: now officially a scam

Derek Smart was right all along:


I am just going to jump right into this one, no preamble, no foreplay, nothing. If you put money into Star Citizen, and you didn’t apply for or get a refund before end of 2017 – congrats you’re now a statistic in a long con scam. The End.

I saw this coming a mile away, over three years ago in 2015. And, like my other warnings, I issued a Red Alert about the implications. Some people listened, got a refund, and got out. Others were riding the wave of the project’s popularity due to repeated lies from Chris Roberts’ camp, and so just kept on giving them money. Hey, it’s their money – and we don’t care.

It’s now 2018, and all what I warned about has all come to pass. CIG has now gone on the record that, as I had accurately predicted, their TOS changes over the years were designed to rip backers off. Here are two official statements recently issued to Motherboard/Vice , Kotaku , Ars Technica , PC Gamer and others.

“Our Terms of Service provides refunds for 14 days after each pledge is made, but company policy is to refund anyone who has second thoughts for up to 30 days after their pledge, no questions asked,”
 – CIG

“The Terms of Service are not retroactive, but a huge majority of Mr. Lord’s pledges came after the TOS was changed to specify arbitration, and those pledges are under that TOS,” the rep wrote. “His pledges with new money on top of his earlier pledges required him to accept the new Terms of Service.” 

Let me preface everything that comes next with these irrefutable FACTS:

  1. Star Citizen was NEVER billed as an Early Access game. Not even once.
  2. In Oct 2012 Chris Roberts asked for, and raised $2M via initial Kickstarter crowd-funding. He promised to release both multiplayer (Star Citizen) and single-player (Squadron 42) by Nov 2014.
  3. By Aug 2013, when the first hangar module was released, they had raised $16.7M.
  4. By Nov 2014, the month he promised it would release, after increasing the game’s scope significantly, they had raised $65M.
  5. Contrary to what some backers try to promote, there was NEVER a vote of consensus to increase the scope of the game. That scope creep came when Chris Roberts himself created additional stretch goals after the initial Kickstarter goal was met. And then he kept on doing it by making various feature promises, new ship JPEG sales etc.

Right. So now lets discuss why this backer lawsuit and his subsequent court loss is so significant now more than ever. I have covered the fiasco in three Twitter threads since news of this backer’s lawsuit broke. But first, a bit of history for context.

Now, I’m not happy about this. Chris Roberts is one of my design heroes. Wing Commander, the Secret Missions, and Wing Commander II are some of the games I played most heavily throughout the entire course of my life. But I had my doubts early on too, so much so that I did not pursue a potential opportunity to work on the AI design for what were then the wingmen in a proposed Wing Commander reboot.

And, you will note, I did not back Star Citizen even though I very nearly did so on three separate occasions. The problem that I always had with the project was what set off Derek’s radar in the first place: I don’t see how he can actually build this thing. Because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t.

That’s the thing about game designers. We’re genuinely not jealous of those who have done better than we have. We admire the great ones. We try to learn from them, to understand them, to fully comprehend their designs. I get Akalabeth. I get Wing Commander. I get Doom. I get Fantasy General. I get Puzzle Quest. I get Fortnite, even though I despise everything for which it stands. But I still don’t get how Star Citizen was ever supposed to function.