Star Citizen Backer Gets $3340 Refund

Star Citizen Backer Gets $US2550 ($3,339) Refund

A backer of the infamously expansive space shooter Star Citizen has argued for, and won, a sizeable refund on his $US2550 ($3339) pledge to the game on the grounds that "the product remains unfulfilled and no longer constitutes the product(s) [he] originally purchased". The correspondence -- originally shared on the Something Awful forums -- shows a lengthy conversation over email that involves the backer (Streetroller), Star Citizen developers Cloud Imperium and the California Attorney General's office.

It's a long read, but in essence Streetroller is arguing that since Star Citizen has changed so much in scope since its initial reveal (adding a number of features and modes, like a first-person shooter), and since it's still not out years after its first crowdfunding campaign, he's entitled to a refund of the massive $US2550 ($3339) pledge he made to the game.

The emails cover a lot of ground -- concerns over changes to the game's terms of service, Cloud Imperium arguing that pledges are for the development of the game, not a pre-order on a copy -- but they end with Streetroller saying he got his money back over the course of a couple of payments.

He also claims to have been contacted by "an LA County investigator" asking for information on the game, who was told by Streetroller that he felt the game was a "scam".

A representative for Cloud Imperium tells Kotaku that "Any refunds with respect to Star Citizen are made on a discretionary basis. There was nothing special about this situation. The fact that this particular party used a complaint form that is online and openly available, doesn't make this any different."

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Comments

    Hopefully this leads to more backers seeking accountability. Accountability and transparency were cornerstones of the trust that CIG built from the beginning. Now that has turned into spin evasiveness and secrecy.

    Completely reasonable. Star Citizen has gained a lot of backers through it's relentless feature creep (driven by it's absurd number of backers and budget) but I can see how someone who signed on for the original project would no longer feel they're getting out of their investment what they wanted, especially given how long they've been waiting.

    Lol, reading the letter that was linked.

    "Nonetheless, having reviewed the complainants interactions with our customer service agents, we have determined that it is also in our interest to terminate his participation in our fundraising community. We are therefore agreeing to close complainants account permanently and we will issue a refund of his pledge promptly."

    Good riddance to bad rubbish evidently.

    Streetroller answered some questions here a couple of days ago.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/DerekSmart/comments/4sjhcn/new_ds_rant_boom_there_it_is_if_your_browser/

    I have only financially backed two games in my life - Star Citizen and Shroud of The Avatar. Safe to say I will never financially support any game ever again....

    I am not sure what is more stupid, people who put this sort of money into a game, sorry a kickstarter type plan and expect some sort perfect world scenario when the game comes out as promised and exactly as it was stated, or those who demand refunds when they wake up and realise they are in the real world and that game development doesnt go to plan and things change on the way.

    They would be better off buying snake oil from a guy on a corner.

      I think the onus is rather on the people pitching the Kickstarter to make it absolutely clear what the parameters are. What Chris Roberts and co. SHOULD have done after the initial Kickstarter blew up, was to set up a new fundraising platform (which they did) but pitch it as a totally new project and new vision. They should have offered a choice to the original backers of (a) a complete refund; or (b) transfer the pledge into the new project. Instead, they assumed that everyone would be on board the hype train as the project vision and promises ballooned from the original project's scope.

      In short, if you invest in a failed project you've only got yourself to blame IF proper disclosure of the project was made at the time you decided to invest.

      I think the big problem here was the cost.
      Throwing in $10 or $20 for some indie developer to make a game is fine (and little risk).
      Dropping even $100 for some digital space ship is a much bigger risk.
      Some of the stuff in SC costs more than $1000.

      Of course if you do choose to "donate" that much money to the development, that's fine.
      On one hand, people need to understand that crowdfunding is an investment not a purchase, and like any investment there is a level or risk.

      On the other hand, companies shouldn't use crowdfunding to scam customers or trade/operate without accountability.

      In this case, it comes down to how much change is acceptable. Change throughout development is expected.... but 3 or 4 years of delays due to constant and unstoppable project creep isn't the same thing.
      This project is a labor of love and like most of those, will probably never be finished.
      It's not being handled like most developers would do it. They would make the base, release it, then build expansions.
      SC is doing it backwards. Taking money, constantly developing expansions without releasing anything.

    Backed it. Happy enough to log in every now and again and see what's changed. It's coming along and the space environment is stunning. Ships are cool too. Never thought it would be on time.

    Backed Elite: Dangerous as well. Frontier went for a different approach - get it out, get people playing, and add updates and DLC regularly. Definitely got my money's worth from that one.

    Backed Godus. Started out promising. Never mind. :(

    I don't mind chucking some money at a promising game (or indeed other stuff on Kickstarter). But it's venture capital. I've taken a punt. Ventures fail for all sorts of reasons. Unless it's actually fraud or a scam, there's little reason to complain. Do your due diligence, make a best guess and put what you think it's worth to MAYBE get the reward one day.

    Projects I'm happy with: Roost Laptop Stand. Fly6 and Fly12 bike light/camera. Sanctuary mossarium on my desk. Elite Dangerous. Exploding Kittens. Pebble Time.

    Still too soon to tell: Star Citizen

    Shame but whatevs: Godus

    Last edited 15/07/16 2:20 pm

      I've back 20 KS projects now.
      1 was cancelled and didn't make funding.
      1 (Radiate athletics) was handled very poorly, bordering on scam. Very late etc.....
      1 was to support an acquaintance's comic
      2 were delivered but it's not as cool/useful as I expected

      Most were under $50. There's a few outliers (like the most recent Pebble 2) but the more expensive ones are the safer ones.

        Oh yeah, Pebble Time I backed as well. :D Really like it. Only downside is so easily scratched... I'm considering getting a Time 2 Steel for "best" and letting my original Time get trashed as a daily watch.

          I was a OG pebble backer (after the KS but before retail release). Loved my original model but went through 3 replacements due to screen tearing.
          I didn't mind much coz their customer support is great, and they are aware of the issue, but at this stage I can't be bothered asking for another one that's just going to last a few months (got a good year or so out of the first one).

          I like that the Time 2 Steel has a better battery and color screen. Not the best price point, but I guess it's still cheaper compared to other android wear devices.
          Kind of sucks that the steel isn't shipping till Nov though.

      Due diligence is kind of irrelevant when in SC's case they have changed to goal post mid development, now there is no guarantee or even any promises this will ever be anything like their original pitch. It's is practically vapor ware until such time as a final product is released.

      Don't see the point in backing anyone without any accountability on an unregulated platform.

        As I said, too soon to tell. I backed at a lowish level to see it get out of the gates.

        Due diligence is really checking out the project people and seeing if they've got any history in the industry or any other successful projects in the past, or at least that the project makes sense and has some sort of plan. Sure it's never gonna be the same as checking out a business partner, but a little time looking around the project beyond "HEY THAT'S COOL TAKE MY MONEY" is essential.

        As for Star Citizen, the scope was bound to change. However, I wish they'd concentrated on getting the original scope out as a project, and then do a phase 2 expansion.

        As it is, I'm still happy I'm going to get a game at the end of it all. Whether it'll be good enough to get me away from Elite, I don't know.

    Backed it at the lowest package (I think it was about $30 USD) 3+ years ago and have looked in every couple of months. Whatever and whenever I guess. If the belly-up I couldn't care less but if they deliver the goods — excellent!

    He's a knob in my opinion.

    Games take a long time to make, especially good ones.

    First...
    All these people want an amazingly deep Wing Commander/Freelancer style games, but it's not as simple as it sounds. The reality is, if all he did was recreate wing commander, and lets be honest, it wouldn't be that great now; back in the day they were great, and can still be fun to play today, but they are not up to todays 'standards' for a new game.

    Second...
    You cannot say this will take x months, it just doesn't work like that.
    What sounds great on paper doesn't always mean it's good in reality.
    In game development, one of the BEST things a developer can do is realize something isn't up to scratch and then admit it and work out if it can be fixed or needs to be scrapped.

    Scrapping a bad idea is one of the BEST things a dev can do.

    Third...
    As the company managed to get more funding they could take on more staff, but there is a limit to how much man power can be thrown at something to speed it up. Doubling the staff on the 'space combat' side doesn't mean it'll take half as long. It might help flesh it out - i.e., 2x or 3x more ships and weapons.

    Increasing staff does mean they could build new teams to focus on different aspects in parallel. i.e., First person, building economy systems, or expanding the game by building a new team to work on creating a procedural universe.

    Some of those will delay the overall time frame of development, others will help it, while others may or may not have any effect while still improving the game.

    For example, creating a static hand made universe would be extremely time consuming, while the final result would be beautiful, it would also be much smaller; whereas going back and starting again on a procedural universe might set the overall development back from that point of view, it would also result in a greatly expanded universe with less effort, which would then 'speed up' development, so it may balance out.

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