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Is Star Citizen a Scam? Let’s Look at the Evidence
Star Citizen has been in development since 2011 and has raised over $400 million in funding, making it one of the highest funded crowdfunding campaigns of all time. However, the long development time and repeated delays have led many to question whether the project is truly viable or if it is a scam that will never be completed. In this post, we will take an objective look at both sides of the argument and discuss the available evidence.
Delays and Feature Creep
One of the biggest complaints leveled against Star Citizen is the extensive delays and constant shifting of the project scope. When the game was first announced in 2012, the developer Roberts Space Industries (RSI) estimated a 2014 release date. However, that date came and went with very little to show for it.
RSI then started announcing tentative target release windows like 2016 or 2018, but each came and went without the full game being ready. Features continued to be added while core gameplay elements remained unfinished. This led to accusations of “feature creep”, where the scope continually expands without a clear vision or plan for completion.
Defenders argue that developing a massively ambitious game of this scope was always going to involve delays and shifting priorities. They also point out that RSI has been very transparent about the development problems through regular reports. However, critics say promising initial release dates that kept getting pushed back is a red flag for mismanagement or even dishonesty. It’s reasonable for backers to feel misled after nearly a decade of delays.
Questionable Fundraising Practices
Another aspect that raises eyebrows is RSI’s aggressive fundraising campaigns over the years. Even after raising over $400 million to date, they continue to sell expensive new ship packages and cosmmetic items on a regular basis. This gives the impression that fundraising, rather than actually finishing the game, may be the top priority.
It’s also unusual for a game this early in development to have such an extensive monetization system already in place. Usually cosmetic microtransactions are introduced much closer to or after full release. The degree to which Star Citizen monetizes what is still an alpha project leads some to believe the real business model is ongoing crowdfunding rather than eventual game sales.
Defenders counter that developing a game as ambitious in scope as Star Citizendoes require an unprecedented budget. Continued funding ensures development can continue at the high level of fidelity that backers expect. They also point out that ship buying is optional and does not impact actual gameplay. However, to critics it still looks like the focus is more on capturing new funds than on delivering the promised product.
Lack of Tangible Progress
After nearly a decade, some question whether there is enough to show for the massive budget and time invested so far. While graphical fidelity and scope continue to expand impressively, core game loops and mechanics remain incomplete or unproven. Basic gameplay aspects like balanced professions, meaningful progression, or even seamless travel between star systems aren’t fully realized yet.
RSI responds that building the underlying technology, scales, and foundations for their vision takes time. But it’s hard for outsiders to gauge tangible progress toward the initial promises made years ago. The open development also means unfinished elements are visible to backers, highlighting what’s missing more than what’s been accomplished so far. This lack of provable progress toward a final product fuels skepticism about whether Star Citizen will ever truly release as an enjoyable final game.
Legal Issues and Refund Battles
In recent years, a growing number of backers have become disillusioned with the delays and project mismanagement. This has led to increased legal action and demands for refunds from RSI. The company’s stance that all payments constitute donations with no refunds has not sat well with some customers.
There have been multiple lawsuits against RSI alleging they are operating illegally by selling shares in an unregistered security. While these lawsuits have so far been unsuccessful, they underscore the frustration of backers who no longer believe in the project. RSI being unwilling or unable to provide large-scale refunds to dissatisfied customers only adds to criticism of their business practices.
Defenders argue these legal actions are usually from a vocal minority. Most backers still actively enjoy following development and supporting the project. However, critics say the fact that lawsuits and demands for refunds exist at all points to underlying issues of trust and transparency regarding the project’s future.
So is it a Scam?
After looking at various sides of this complex argument, there are reasonable perspectives on both sides and likely no objective single answer. It seems overly simplistic to definitively label Star Citizen as an outright “scam” when developers are still actively working and releasing builds, even if progress is slow.
However, the extensive delays, unclear roadmap, questionable fundraising tactics, lack of tangible results after so much time and money, and growing legal issues also give cause for legitimate concern about mismanagement and whether core promises can realistically ever be delivered. For new backers, caveat emptor.
In the end, only time will truly tell if Star Citizen evolves into a complete and enjoyable game as was originally envisioned, or if it will continue indefinitely in early access development while missing its fundamental goals. As long as ongoing funding continues, work on the project is likely to proceed. But whether it ultimately succeeds in the eyes of its customers remains very much an open question after more than a decade in development limbo. Most can agree the future of this ambitious project remains uncertain.
So What’s the Verdict?
After assessing both sides of the argument as objectively as possible, here is my perspective on whether Star Citizen can reasonably be called a scam:
- It’s too simplistic to outright label it as a definitive “scam” while development is still actively ongoing. Scams imply complete dishonesty and most would agree work is still being done.
However, the extensive delays, unclear roadmap, lack of accountability, questionable fundraising practices, absence of measurable goals or progress reports, countless missed deadlines and legal issues are all troubling signs that require acknowledging.
While not a cut-and-dry scam, these ongoing red flags undermine trust and transparency. They give legitimate cause to believe the developer may have mismanaged funding and scope in a way that risks the project never reaching its promised conclusion.
-At some point, good intentions are not enough to justify the massive budget and timeline if core goals remain undelivered. Continually resetting expectations sets a poor precedent.
- New backers should go into this with extreme caution, if at all. The possibility of future disappointment for those continuing to invest cannot be dismissed after 12 years of issues.
Therefore, while not definitively labeling it as an outright scam due to work still proceeding in good faith, the many unresolved concerns accumulated over a decade suggest that labeling Star Citizen as “highly questionable” or a “troubled development” would be fair and balanced characterizations based on the available facts. Only if and when a complete product emerges can a better verdict be made. In the meantime, skepticism is warranted.
The Star Citizen story is a complex tale of ambition, passion, technological marvels, missed deadlines, unfulfilled promises, continued fundraising success and growing criticism. Determining for certain whether it represents an honest troubled development or a deliberate scam may never have a clear-cut answer.
Both sides raise compelling arguments that cannot be easily dismissed or proved definitively. Ultimately, only the passage of time and the project’s final outcome, whatever that may be, will allow for a clearer perspective in retrospect.
For now, reasonable people can disagree on conclusions. But it is indisputable that 12 years, $400 million, and a lack of core deliverables have raised serious ongoing issues regarding accountability, communication and management that demand acknowledgement and remain a source of legitimate frustration for some backers.
While dreams of sci-fi gaming utopias may soar high, realities always demand substance to back them up. The verdict on Star Citizen’s destination can only be reserved until it arrives, or fails to, at its promised conclusion. For now, the journey remains worryingly open-ended.