[Update: Cloud Imperium spokesperson Dave Swofford tells Ars that “a lot of the information was fabricated” in the Reddit post discussed the below. Swofford says the account in question was issued an individual refund of $330, not the $45,000 claimed in posted screenshots and videos which Swofford says do not reflect actual complaints requests logged by the company. What’s more, Swofford says the refund was handled “in a timely fashion” with “no extended debate over whether we should.”
Ars regrets the omission from the original story, which appears below.]
Children born when Star Citizen was first announced are now approaching kindergarten, but the extremely ambitious space simulation is currently struggling to get its third alpha version into the hands of the backers. Rather than keep waiting, a group of impatient players have requested and apparently received a $45,000 refund for three of the game’s $15,000 “completionist” packs, which include access to dozens of optional ship designs, among other perks.
An anonymous representative of the player group, by the handle Mogmentum, posted about the refund on the Star Citizen Refunds Reddit group, which features stories from hundreds of other posters seeking smaller refunds for the oft-delayed game. “We have sidelined many other great games and commercial opportunities waiting for Star Citizenbut in the end we can’t wait any longer, and there’s also a new generation coming in that has absolutely no interest,” Mogmentum writes, alongside photo and video evidence of forum discussions confirming the refunds. Getting the money back took five weeks of persistent requests with support staff, the player said, claiming that the staffers “definitely try to slow you down as much as possible in hopes of making you forget or give up.”
A $45,000 refund is a drop in the bucket compared to the more than $159 million Star Citizen has raised more than 1.8 million paying customers at the time of writing. That itself is a long way from the $2 million that Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts initially looked for the game in his 2012 crowdfunding efforts.
Those extra funds have led to a major expansion of the project’s already grandiose ambitions, and accusations that project-stifling feature creep has prevented the game from meeting numerous self-imposed deadlines. Roberts has pushed back on those accusations numerous times, saying in 2015 that “there are people out there who are going to tell you that this is all a BAD THING, that it’s ‘feature creep’ and we need to make a smaller, less impressive game to make it out faster.” or to meet artificial deadlines. Now I will answer those claims in one word: Bullshit!”
“Star Citizen matters BECAUSE it’s big, because it’s a bold dream,” continued Roberts. “It’s something that everyone is afraid to try. You didn’t back Star Citizen because you want what you’ve seen before. You’re here reading this because we’re willing to go big, to do the things that terrify publishers.”
But after five years of development and only a few limited “alpha” gameplay modules so far, some backers are fed up. There has even been a crowdsourcing effort to follow up on Roberts’ promises about the game, which currently contains 93 “broken” or “stagnant” promises against 91 that are “completed” or exist in the alpha. A much larger mass of 316 on-the-record pledges continues in an “unimplemented” limbo that has grown steadily over the past five years.
“The last straw was the evidence presented [to] Chris Roberts’ commission blatantly lies,” Mogmentum writes, possibly referring to these kinds of broken promises. “We don’t mind the delays, but couldn’t handle the lies anymore, and we wondered what else he’s deliberately lying about.”
There are still plenty Star Citizen true believers willing to give Roberts and his team the time and record amounts they ask for to keep their promises. However, as more and more time passes with no significant progress, some players seem to be wondering if they should cash out on what could be next. Duke Nukem Forever.