O ‘Star Citizen,’ ‘Star Citizen,’ Wherefore Art Thou, ‘Star Citizen’?

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Star Citizen

We here at GeekDad love a good Kickstarter. We’ve backed hundreds and probably written about even more to alert our readers to projects of interest. We get our share of Kickstarter alerts, and we’ve even got a set of policies in place for contacting us concerning how best to alert us to your Kickstarter. We’ve all backed some incredibly successful projects… and probably each of us can point at one or two that failed miserably, either by late delivery on a backer reward or just pulling out the rug beneath backers’ feet and saying “So long!” Suffice to say, every GeekDad writer probably has an interesting story to tell about Kickstarter. Here’s mine.

Note: What prompted this post was an interesting discussion on Slack between a few GeekDad contributors about the higher number of boardgame Kickstarters that successfully fund versus videogame projects. One comment raised the question about how a videogame that turned into vaporware could hurt other videogame developers. That little discussion (where I lurked but didn’t participate in) reminded me that it was time for me to go check in on a Kickstarter project that I hadn’t looked in on for a few months.

Back in 2012, Star Citizen launched on Kickstarter and raised over $2.1M for a space simulator game. (The game raised an overall $100M from non-Kickstarter funding!) I originally backed the game but pulled my funding when the developer began selling special ships that I felt would give players an immediate head start in the game… and possibly even an unfair advantage. You can read that original post here. I will admit that the piece was more editorial in nature, allowing me to gripe a bit about what I saw as a potential way to break the game. I even got an email from Star Citizen complaining (fairly, I must admit) that I should have let the developers respond to my concerns about their “No Pay to Win” which I called BS on. And still do.

If you read my original post, you’ll note that the game was supposed to be delivered to backers in late 2014. I even stated that I might be convinced to buy the game in 2014 if it turned out that my issues with the Pay-to-Win backer levels were unfounded. Well, it’s now July 2016 and even if I wanted to play Star Citizen… I can’t. You see, the game is almost four years out in development since the project successfully funded, and those 20,000+ backers are still waiting for their game. (There is an alpha release that can be downloaded.)

Star Citizen is one of those games that I check in on every 3–4 months. I read the comments and the updates and shake my head and say “Phew… dodged that one.” I don’t mean to make light of the fact that 20,000+ backers gave over two million dollars for what sounded like an amazing concept. Some of these backers funded at levels of $250, $1,000, and even $10k! I’m completely sympathetic to their complaints. Oh… and, man, are many of them complaining!

Click here to head over to Star Citizen‘s Kickstarter page and start browsing the comments. You’ll discover that the backers have fragmented into two different factions–those who have pretty much had it with Star Citizen and those who you can call True Believers. Those who are upset are speaking their minds loud and clear on a variety of issues such as warning other backers about accepting changes to the Terms of Service that supposedly make it harder to ask for refunds. The True Believers are hanging tough; they will defend Star Citizen and its developers because, well, “the game is coming, dude. It’s coming.”

Maybe.

And maybe not. You see, much of what was promised to backers back in 2012 has changed in regards to game features and elements. Some backers believe that if Star Citizen is released, it won’t be the game that was promised in the Kickstarter. Now, that’s not completely out of the rules. Kickstarter and Star Citizen made no promises (that I know of) that the game might not change here and there. Anyone familiar with technology knows that software is a fickle thing. These changes to the game, however, prompted a recent successful request to Star Citizen for a refund of $2,550.

Here’s the thing–I really want Star Citizen to finish. Not just for the 20,000+ backers, but because I’m still–despite all the feature changes and my gut feeling that gameplay will be unbalanced with some players starting off in mega warships while I’m scooting around in my unshielded single-seater Viper knockoff–anxious to see how this game looks and plays. I want to actually see what one-hundred-million dollars–$100,000,000 with 9 zeroes—looks like on a computer screen. I want to post a follow-up one day and say “I was WRONG! I was SO WRONG!”

But for now… all I can do is lurk in the comments, get an occasional update from various news sources, and cross my fingers that one-tenth of a billion dollars delivers something soon that gamers will love beyond words.

Stay tuned…

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