$30 Pass For Annual Star Citizen Conference Divides Backers

In a move that drew almost immediate criticism, Cloud Imperium Games announced it will be charging just over $30 ($US22) to watch this year's festival for all things Star Citizen.

The move to gate online viewership behind a digital ticket - a system not too dissimilar from the Virtual Ticket for Blizzcon each year - drew criticism on social media, the official Star Citizen forums and Star Citizen subreddit. Several hundred replies were posted to this thread on the Star Citizen forums, which has since been locked, while multiple threads with hundreds of comments flared up on Reddit.

The digital pass, as captured from the CIG website.

The debate quickly flared into a few camps. One view was that backers shouldn't be asked to pay for a virtual stream of the event, given that they have been funding the production of a product that has yet to ship in a released form. Another view was that the virtual ticket offered a similar proposition to streaming tickets sold by other publishers, in that it offers users the chance to attend panels and events at the same time as everyone else as if they were attending in person.

Another perspective was that the $30 ($US22) ticket wasn't harmful to people considering much of the content would be uploaded to YouTube or released in due course throughout CitizenCon anyway, but moves like this harm CIG's goodwill with the community. Users also pointed out that it stops people new to Star Citizen from joining in on the stream, potentially harming the growth of the community (and a source of continued funding, given the game's development).

In a FAQ online, CIG explained that the expanded scope of this year's CitizenCon necessitated a paywall. "The scope of this year’s event, plus, the staffing and technical requirements of streaming two parallel stages, necessitates a ticket price." The FAQ also noted that people attending CitizenCon were "expressly prohibited" from recording, rebroadcasting, and resharing any of the stage presentations.

It quickly spread that concierge-level backers would have free access to the stream - but regular Star Citizen backers wouldn't. And while the keynote speech and streamed content would be released freely through YouTube afterwards, that wasn't enough to prevent a wave of malcontent among fans.

A paywall for Citizencon is going to tank the last source of goodwill in the year. from r/starcitizen

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Chris Roberts posted an announcement asking users to direct their distaste towards him, saying the paywall was "his idea" and that the idea was to "try to defray at least some of the additional costs" associated from the event.

"We ended up coming down on the side of the pass for all, mostly for our ability to deliver a high quality video to everyone in short order and control the message and coordinate any press from the opening or closing," Roberts wrote. "If we can give game sites a link to a video and guarantee that they will all get it at the same time we don't have to worry about different sites all trying to preempt each other, some linking to our stream, some linking to someone's YouTube re-post."

The main reasoning, as Roberts explained, was that the company wanted to bring in a "specialist company that can handle multiple simultaneous stages, cameras and streams" to overcome criticisms of their approach to streaming and videography from previous years. The cost of hiring a third-party firm added "a low six figure amount" to this year's CitizenCon, and rather than absorbing the cost internally CIG opted to take a leaf out of Blizzard's book by charging for a virtual ticket.

Roberts' post hasn't dissipated all criticism of the virtual pass, although some users noted that nobody is forced to purchase the virtual ticket and that the content will be made available on YouTube soon thereafter. The principle has been questioned by some users though, resulting in back and forth discussions about whether CIG has paid appropriate respect to users who have continued to fund the ongoing cost of development.

"Sometimes its hard not to feel as if my pledge is no longer enough and if I want to be involved in the games open development I need to provide more money on an ongoing basis," one user wrote.

The one uniting force amongst the perspectives, however, is that CIG could have forwarded all of this off at the pass by outlining their reasons before the virtual pass was announced. The move to make the opening and closing keynotes viewable for free also brings the virtual pass more in line with what Blizzard offers for Blizzcon.

For those outside of the Star Citizen community, the saga is a reminder that Star Citizen is still yet to deliver on many of the grand dreams and ideals its developers and fans have spoken about for years on end. For those on the inside, Roberts and co. have done the right thing. But supporters remain perplexed as to why a proper explanation wasn't offered beforehand or timed with the reveal of the virtual pass, and whether ticket sales will help recoup costs at all, particularly since their value has diminished following CIG's move to quell concerns.


Comments

    Eugh. I had high hopes for this game when I first heard about it. It's now basically a cult where people throw their money into a bottomless pit, along with their hopes and dreams. So glad I didn't buy in.

      You aren't wrong there with an almost cult like following of true believers some throwing tens of thousands of dollars at the great leader for his project.

    This has just reached farce level now. Chris Roberts, I used to admire the hell out of you. The game will still come out, but it's burned up its good will now.

    It doesn’t matter what they do, people will bitch and moan. When the streams are bad quality, they get shit. When they have sponsor partners, they get shit. When they try to do something that will bring a higher quality experience to all with an optional buy in to watch it unfold live, they get shit even though they’ll get to watch all of it shortly after.

    The argument about using the game development funds for marketing and events is especially out there since it’s long been a thing where people get upset at the mere thought of their pledges being used for anything but development.

    The fact that many of the big-name, long-time fans are choosing to forget all of that and go on an all out moral panic on the issue doesn’t make it some bad decision on CIG’s part.

      I’ll also add that every year for citizen con there’s a subset of backers that always brings up not using game dev money for the event and every year it gets explained that they don’t use those funds for it.

      Yeah that might be fair if this was somewhere close to being released and they weren't burning up goodwill from backers...

        Well what would you suggest then?

          Maybe figure out how to make the actual game instead of this endless showmanship?

          This project, like so many Kickstarters that promise the world and yet clearly lack proper direction, is nowhere near close to delivering much of anything. And yet Roberts feels the need to undertake grandiose nonsense like this. I respect the guy for Freelancer, but Freelancer was a shadow of what was promised and was released because publishers finally forced him to be more realistic with what he could deliver. Now he's unshackled and answers pretty much to nobody (backers have no actual power), and he's demonstrated that he can't manage a project for shit.

          Star Citizen is the prime example of the worst of Kickstarter, possibly followed by Tim Schafer's fairly awful attempts. It's mostly absurd marketing pitches aimed at people who always believed that publishers were the sole reason why games got cut back from their original vision. The truth is now revealed to be somewhere in the middle - that sometimes, the developers themselves are the ones who need to have boundaries so that they can actually deliver something.

          Trying to profit off showing off something that seems like it'll never see release, which seems to be under awful direction, just seems like a cynical grab for cash to keep the sprawling behemoth afloat. Blizzard can get away with it because Blizzard are actually producing content that gets released. These guys aren't.

            Where is the “trying to profit bit” and the “cash grab”?

              "Pay to watch this stream where we talk about the game that might never come out!"

                Subscriber and ticket holders fund the event. The keynotes were free to live stream like there were every year. The digital ticket was literally a package of one month of the $10 sub with the $10 con digital goodie bag to help fund the expanded streaming/filming they were doing which would put more content out sooner than the previous year to the betterment of all backers.

                Calling it a money grab is either plan ignorance or blind rage-mode.

            Sounds like you've got development fatigue. You're impatient for a release, can't believe it's taken this long, are looking for reasons, and are ready to jump on any misstep. Not that missteps are hard to find with Chris Roberts, but you could do the same with anyone, really.

            I'm happy just to sit back and see how things turn out. Gotta hand it to Chris, he does like to be ambitious with his space sims. It's been an interesting journey so far, and I'm quite curious to see how it goes from here.

            Bit harsh on Tim Schafer. I assume he rates only "fairly" awful, because Double Fine have actually delivered on both their Kickstarter projects? Never mind both being good games.

            If you really want to know about bad Kickstarter projects, look up Ant Simulator.

              I used to like Roberts, but he couldn't deliver with Freelancer and shows no signs of delivering here either. Kickstarter is filled with broken campaigns that can't or don't deliver, usually because the money ran out or they couldn't manage their development. People hate publishers but they keep Devs on track. I didn't back Star Citizen because I knew right from the outset that it was going to be delivered extremely late(if at all) and will likely miss goalsand milestones. I could tell just from the pitch and the amount raised. I've backed only a handful of Kickstarters because most ask for money that is insufficient to develop the game and won't be delivered on time or feature intact.

              As for Schafer - he "delivered" but many would argue against delivering a good game. It's a long way to fall for somebody who has a heritage like Psychonauts and Grim Fandango.

                9% of Kickstarter projects failed to deliver rewards.
                https://www.theverge.com/2015/12/7/9865112/kickstarter-9-percent-failure-rate-survey

                I've backed 12 projects on Kickstarter. Seven of those successfully delivered. Five are still in development, with one just about to deliver (Bards Tale IV). The other four I'm confident will deliver as well.

                Don't get me wrong. I know where you're coming from. There have been many Kickstarter projects that have been ineptly managed. Experienced developers, though, seem to be good at getting it together. I'd back a project from a developer group that has a good track record.

                Yeah, Chris Roberts has a mixed track record. I've been keeping track of Star Citizen, though, and the shots of the releases they've made look pretty nice. The feature set looks very interesting. They've made a lot of progress. While there's a chance the project will fail, there's also a chance the project will succeed, and I think it's a pretty decent chance.

                As for Schafer/Double Fine, they've delivered on their Kickstarter projects. That's a far cry from being next to the "prime example of the worst of Kickstarter". I liked the games. The majority of players did as well. Broken Age has a metacritic score between 76% - 81%. If that's a fall, then it's a pretty good one.

      A crowd funded project that got nearly $200 million in funding with nothing to show for other than a buggy Alpha and some nice bullshot videos does not need a Blizzard size convention.

      The delusions of grandeur from the games dinosaur Chris Roberts trying to make the ultimate game of all games and creating a gaming empire with 20 shell companies because he thinks he is the big shoot Hollywood games producer.

      Cloud Imperium Games Corp CA
      Cloud Imperium Games LLC CA
      Cloud Imperium Rights LLC CA
      Cloud Imperium US, LLC DE
      Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC TX
      Cloud Imperium Games LLC TX
      Roberts Space Industries Corp CA
      Roberts Space Industries, LLC CA
      Roberts Space Industries, LLC TX
      Gemini 42 Entertainment LLC CA
      Gemini 42 Productions LLC CA
      Twin Brothers Production Inc CA
      Twin Bros. Productions Inc CA
      Cloud Imperium Games UK Limited
      Cloud Imperium Rights UK Limited
      Foundry 42 Limited
      Roberts Space Industries International Limited
      Roberts Space Industries Germany GMBH
      Foundry 42
      Twin Bros GmBH

      He already attempted to make this game 20 years ago. It was called Freelancer and he went Bankrupt with his company called DigitalAnvil. History repeats itself for those that do not learn from their mistakes.

        I see someone has been listening to Derek’s ranting about companies. I suggest you spend time learning how companies that work in multiple countries set themselves up so you stop making ourself look like an idiot.

          I am sorry that i cause you so much grief that you have to bring up my name as some form of Devil like figure for your cult of Chris Roberts, your Messiah.

          On the topic: I don't know this "Chris Roberts Ghost" guy and i never talked to him. He has not received this information from me. He might have looked up the publicly available company register though.

          Of cause it is common knowledge that you have to set up a multinational company with 20 shell companies and 4 development studios to make a crowdfunded game.

          Everyone knows this and the people that try to do this with just one company and one development studio obviously don't know how game development works.

            Are you the Derek Smart of Derek Smart's Desktop Commander? I love your games.

            Or you know.

            He registered the names to protect his intellectual rights. So other people dont attempt to use them

            Keep on chucking sooky la la's derek. If that really is you.

              You don't protect your Intellectual property by registering companies you get Patents. Don't talk about things you know nothing about.

            Holy moly, Derek Smart! On Australian kotaku?!

            I thought you only appeared if your name was said three times?

            You don’t cause me any grief at all but your complete lack of knowledge of how to run a company in multiple companies is not an argument against how it’s been run. Touting your “expertise” in the area (you have none) and whipping people into a frenzy that also have none just makes you see desperate to cause drama out of completely normal business practices. I only invoked your name because you’re one of the main pushers of this bs line of thinking but, for sure, think that you’re a boogeyman if that helps you.

        LOL, nice name. Anyway Freelancer wasn't a failure, quite a success really, still people play it this day. Perhaps it didn't make as much as they had hoped I dunno, but most definitely not a good example to use! Starlancer was probably more of a lose, but was prequel.

      You know they didn't HAVE to throw an event that cost money right? That was their choice.

    If they're offering a similar experience to the Blizzcon virtual ticket, a Blizzcon-style ticket fee seems reasonable. Backers (of which I'm one) bought the game, not lifetime access to every single thing the devs ever do.

      I think it might be a little hard for them to be on par with Blizzcon considering they have 19 released games and a truckload of content with broadcast quality live events and streaming. Just a wild guess though, i am sure Chris Roberts can do it.

      I mean, Chris publicly announced that his FPS gameplay will be more lethal than COD and that his game will be the savior of PC gaming.

        Sure. I've never been to or watched a Citizencon event, though they have been going for a few years. I have no idea what content they plan to offer, I'm just saying if it's comparable then a fee is reasonable. I don't plan to watch it regardless, I prefer to avoid the marketing train and just check out major updates.

    Even as a quite overly committed backer; fuck that noise. I will just watch the pirated streams that will populate twitch, it is what they deserve at this point.

      Or you could wait 24 hours or less for the YouTube versions which you can watch anywhere any time?

      Well we will get the most interesting info for free and rest also for free with a few hours delay. not a big deal.

    HAHAHAHA fuck this dev. This is one big ponzi scheme, I backed this bullshit on day one, they ain't getting another cent from me.

    I have no opinion about the virtual ticket price.

    What I want to know is, why is there a whole conference devoted to one game?

    Why does a crowd funded game that is not released yet and barely in Alpha need a convention the size of Blizzard.

    This looks and sounds more like delusions of grandeur by Chris Roberts that tried to make this exact game before and failed so he is now compensating and desperately trying to stay relevant.

    The hubris in his post to the community is staggering: "I get that some of you may not be considering these nuances when you're whipping out your pitchforks"

    Maybe he is right, i just don't understand game development or project management.

    So how playable is the game at this point?

    Why is there a need for a big conference? Why don’t they make a few videos to put the information out there and rub an AMA?

      I have no idea. Honestly. Although not to be tooo cynical, but I bet they sell a lot of packages on the day.

      They are making soooo much money.

    Dear gamers, things here in the real world cost money. People need and deserve to be paid, and all the backstage stuff and building all cost money.

    Sure the whole Star Citizen thing has been financially questionable. Thats the gamble one SHOULD expect to take when buying into an early access/kickstarter type thing. I am not saying that justifies all the rubbish players have been through but when something like this is external to the game itself, you really shouldnt expect it to be free. Just like I dont think Blizzcon should be free, or any other company show.

    Last edited 01/09/18 9:26 am

    I have no sympathy for anyone who still gives these people money. A fool and their money ect ect.

    Time for my semi-annual check on the RSI website to see what they are up to funding wise.... US $193,069,753... so AUS $268,482,798.52 at current exchange rates. OMFG!

    Time for my semi-annual reminder that this was originally pitched for needing $2,000,000 to then secure the funding for $20,000,000 development, to be released by the end of 2014...

    Last edited 01/09/18 9:29 am

    When we are all just going to admit that SC is a money-laundering scheme at this point?

    The cynical person in me has some suspicions about the reasons for this pass.

    Only the true believers are going to fork out money for it which will keep the hype up, cut out any negative comments from people and make them more likely to pay extra for what ever ideas they want to sell them this time.

    Not to mention the straight forward nickel and diming those same true believers a bit more.

    The funny part is that I want this to be everything they promise and for it to be the definitive space game, but at this point I will be waiting for reviews

    Does seem a bit cheeky, but its one way to limit the amount of people to something which might not be able to cater for everyone.

    I think they should just make it so only the top tier guys can participate in -chat-interactions-whatever while everyone else can at least watch the stream and talk in some general channel.

    Maybe there is a bandwidth concern and this is their way of reducing numbers, again, not going to win people over!

    Last edited 02/09/18 8:41 am

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