Star Citizen Backer Gets $2550 Refund After Attorney General of Los Angeles Gets Involved

A backer of Star Citizen [official site] has successfully received a refund of $2550 from Cloud Imperium Games after bringing his complaints about the company to the L.A. Attorney General and consumer watchdogs, including the Federal Trade Commission. He went on to publicly post his correspondence with all the people involved, so everyone can see how laborious the process was.

The backer, known as ‘Streetroller’, has put the back and forth on the SomethingAwful forums. It’s a lengthy enough correspondence, so we’ll break it down for you.

He first made a refund request directly to the developers. “The product remains unfulfilled and no longer constitutes the product(s) I originally purchased,” he writes. But Cloud Imperium Games sent him a lengthy rejection, saying: “We are not able to accommodate your request for a refund.”

“You made your pledge to the crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the development of ‘Star Citizen’. When you contributed your pledge it was applied to the building of the game and the team and resources needed to make it happen.”

“It would not be appropriate to use our current backers’ development pledges to refund an earlier pledge which has already been used for Game Cost. Put simply, “takebacks” are not in the spirit of crowdfunding.”

After asserting his refund request should be honoured he received another curt rejection. Finally, he sent letters to the Attorney General of Los Angeles, the Federal Trade Commission and the LA Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, telling them about the dispute. Within a week he received the first part of his refund of $900 from Amazon Payments. Soon after he got the rest of the money ($1650) through Paypal.

It’s worth reading the whole thing if you are a huge nerd for legalities and consumer rights. But basically at the heart of it all is the fact that Star Citizen recently changed its terms of service. Previously, these had said that backers would be entitled to a refund if Roberts Space Industries “has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items” after eighteen months had passed from the release date (see that archived here, under the heading ‘VII . Fundraising and Pledges’). Star Citizen’s initial release date was November 2014. This means that by now any backer who pledged under these original terms is entitled to a refund (people like Streetroller). But the developers still dispute this. Even as they finally accepted the request, they said that the backer was not legally entitled.

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

Basically: we are just doing this as a gesture of good will, not because we have to.

Whether this will set any kind of precedent or cause more people to demand refunds we can’t yet be sure. Where do you stand? Is this a victory for consumers against companies who hold millions of dollars? Or does it simply set the scene for an exodus of disenfranchised consumer-investors?

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199 Comments

  1. Viral Frog says:

    Big surprise that it came from the Land of Litigation, California. The idiot spend thousands of dollars on a promise and is mad that he was stupid enough to do so? I don’t think he should have been entitled to a refund for his own stupidity, personally.

    • jrodman says:

      I’m really disappointed in you. You really could have blamed the victim a lot harder. This is just unimpressive.

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        7/10?

      • Ieolus says:

        Not a victim. A backer.

        • Trotar says:

          Who didn’t get what he was promised.
          Calling him a ‘backer’ doesn’t mean he doesn’t have rights.

          • Aetylus says:

            A Backer is a lot closer to an Investor than a Victim. I don’t see many investors claiming refunds when the companies they invest in fail to deliver on their promises. In any case the real morale of the story is that Kickstarters shouldn’t build explicit refund promises into their kickstarter.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The party who should be feeling the learning pain of that particular lesson is the one who made that mistake, i.e. Cloud Imperium Games.

            If you’re getting a in-writing guaranteed product in return for your money, it’s not investing any more, it’s pre-ordering. The costs of failure to meet that guarantee should penalize the one offering it, not the one accepting it.

        • SaintAn says:

          It’s a scam/con, so he’s a victim.

          • gunny1993 says:

            You willing to go to court to say it’s a scam/con? You have to prove malicious intent/criminal activity for that to be true. Otherwise it’s just incompetence, which is legally somewhat more confusing.

          • gwathdring says:

            What isn’t quite so legally confusing is RSI’s attempt to change the TOS to avoid refunding people post-deadline …

          • Cropduster says:

            Criminal incompetence/negligence might be closer to the mark.
            Either way hopefully this sets a precedent for backers, and we are one step closer to saving the whales. Star Trek VI was real.

          • LexW1 says:

            There seems to be some confusion here. Criminal negligence applies to criminal cases – i.e. crimes. This is a civil case. If it was fraud, criminal negligence would still be inapplicable, because fraud is knowing, i.e. you have the mens rea.

            As to whether incompetence is legally confusing, well, it depends entirely on the contracts involved. In serious businesses, it’s usually not legally confusing at all – it’s going to end up with the incompetent person having broken the terms of the contract and having to pay the other person (or get paid less or whatever). Shipping, for example. It only gets confusing if the contract doesn’t cover the circumstance, or if the injured party (the claimant, we would say) somehow contributed to the situation.

            Here it seems fairly straightforward – they said they’d give a refund if they didn’t deliver in 18 months of the date, and it’s now been 18 months. So sneering at the person asking for the refund hardly seems warranted or reasonable. I mean, I think anyone who gave these people more than $40 is some kind of idiot, god love them, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be subject to the law or something.

          • Wyrm says:

            It’s hardly a scam, that would imply no end product. I took a look at it last week and whilst it’s nowhere near finished, the quality of what’s being produced is quite impressive actually.

      • Eclipse says:

        the game had a promised release date of November 2014, while this Dude was quite stupid in the first place, I agree that backers that wants to should be entitled to a refund as there’s no release date in sight

        • Eclipse says:

          nevermind, seems like the fact that the release period could change was covered (even if two years are hell of a delay), so this guy was just a giant idiot

    • glopglop says:

      While I agree spending thousands on a promise is silly, in the end if that promise (aka a pledge) is broken then and 18 months later they’ve still not delivered then just take your money back. I mean it’s a two way deal isn’t it, money was given on terms.

      Always get in later can’t you, I mean just actually play the game for those ships old school style!

    • Sarfrin says:

      Why do you think Cloud Imperium should be exempt from honouring the terms of service *they* set when they took his money?
      Basically you’re saying any distance seller can deliver any old shite, or not deliver at all, and shouldn’t be held responsible for it because the buyer was stupid enough to believe what they said.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      It sounds like the stupidity here was all Roberts’/CIG’s. They’re the ones who wrote it into their terms & conditions that they’d provide refunds if they didn’t deliver the pledge items within 18 months of the scheduled release date. They didn’t have to do that, after all.

      It’s a little rich to claim “no backsies” after you specifically (in writing!) committed to backsies.

      • JasonM says:

        It’s funny because CIG didn’t publish a scheduled release date for Star Citizen yet. There was a estimated delivery date on the kickstarter, but everyone involved in the project knows that plans had changed afterwards (funding was continued, scope increased). The backer in question pledged long after these changes were communicated by CIG. Crowdfunding isn’t pre-ordering, if you support a crowd-funded project, you’re giving your money to someone else to support the project, you’re not buying something (Even if you’re getting something in return). How would Crowdfunding work if people just change their mind on the support (and the associated “donation” of their money), while the people are still working on the project? As long as the money pledged towards the project was put into the project their is no issue. This is a typical case of goodwill and i can understand CIG that they don’t want to have any relation to entitled “customers” like this one.

        • LexW1 says:

          This is in no way a “typical case of goodwill”. That is just straight-up untrue. This is a very typical case of settling to avoid a lawsuit which might set a dangerous precedent. A “typical case of goodwill” doesn’t involve petulantly refusing, and then only agreeing after the Attorney General of one of the largest cities in the world (and one close to the devs) gets involved. A “typical case of goodwill” would be saying “okay, sure, sad you don’t have faith in us” or something.

          Also, with the 18 months thing, you have two possibilities, neither attractive:

          1) Because they’ve said the release date can move, the 18 months thing was a straight-up lie that they never intended to honor, because they would always, infinitely, say that the release date had changed or still wasn’t set, literally until the end of time. In fact, it makes no sense for them to ever set release date until the game is literally done, on that basis. It’s dishonest at best.

          Or

          2) They did intend it to mean 18 months after the late 2014 release date, which must have seemed entirely reasonable when they wrote the terms – I mean, who slips 18 months? Only the utterly incompetent or those with “corporate” messing with them, and they were neither, right? In that case there were being honest then, but were being dishonest now in trying to suggest this is “take backsies”, because they’re themselves taking back their earlier terms.

          Indeed they unarguably are – they’ve changed the terms, now. That’s a clear case of “take backsies”.

          Further, the letter they sent doesn’t suggest he was wrong legally, just they they “don’ wanna!”. It was clearly written by an idiot who either didn’t run it by legal, or doesn’t have any legal to run it by.

          • JasonM says:

            Gotta retract on the goodwill part as your explanation makes more sense, if you take into account that the person already involved the authorities.

            Regarding the two mentioned possibilties:
            1) As i’ve said before the estimated delivery date of the kickstarter (2012) was already obsolete, because the scope changed drastically with the continued funding in 2013. The person in question backed the project in 2014, by that time it was widely known that the stated date on the kickstarter (November 2014) was not current anymore. Also note that the kickstarter which still states the estimated delivery date of November 2014 has ended in November 2012 is the only source for that date. The original plan was to develope the single-player campaign first and follow up with the persistent universe, however this plan changed with the continued funding so did the estimated delivery date (in becoming obsolete). Another release, or delivery date was not given up to this point, except for schedules/roadmaps being shown during the development of the project. If you can show me a official source that states the 2014 release date (you may as well use waybackmachine to go back to the date this person pledged), except the obsolete kickstarter campaign page (legacy), i will fully retract on my statements.

            2) I wonder why release dates for game productions are only published months before the actual release and not at the start of the production, maybe it’s because schedules/roadmaps change and are expected to change. Why did CIG publish a estimated release date than? Simply put it was necessary at the given time for the fundraiser, but not to be mistaken by a final release date. The only mistake i see here is CIG including the “18 months” after the “estimated” delivery date passage in their ToS, which they’ve gladly corrected now.

            The letter they sent doesn’t suggest he was right legally either.

        • PST says:

          CIG aren’t crowdfunding this as a ‘give us money and we’ll make something awesome’, they’re expressly selling pre-orders.

          They charge VAT in Europe, and sales tax in appropriate US states.

          Their EULA violates a number of EU/UK Consumer statutes.

          Quite apart from just how terrible the tech demo they claim is an alpha is, the company’s EULA makes 419 advance fee scams look legit in comparison.

          They’ve repeatedly violated copyright with their advertising and marketing material and continue to sell pre-orders for things that their backlog means will not appear for years.

          It may not fit the legal definition of fraud, but it’s certainly negligent and for me, has gone past ‘over ambitious’ and become simple money grabbing greed.

          • JasonM says:

            Not sure why you would consider it a pre-order just because VAT applies, maybe VAT applies because the EU says that VAT applies to reward based crowdfunding? It’s not a pre-order, whoever thinks it is, is obviously an idiot as it states at the checkout what you’re “buying” into.

            Reward Crowdfunding: according to the Committee, the transaction where the backer receives, in exchange of financial contribution, a non financial reward in the form of goods or services by the project owner is VAT taxable, provided that there is a direct link between the supply of goods or services and its corresponding consideration collected by way of crowdfunding, and that the entrepreneur is a taxable person acting as such. However,when the open market value of the good or service supplied by the project owner to the backer is lower than the financial contribution and the benefits deriving from such good or service are negligible or totally unrelated to the amount of the contribution, in this case the transaction can be treated as a donation and therefore not taxable. The VAT will be chargeable upon receipt of the payment.

            Please state which specific EU/UK Consumer statutes are violated by their ToS?

            I will ignore the rest of your post as it’s the usual Derek Smart nonsense not worth any response.

    • waltC says:

      Not only that, but anyone who donates $3k or so to a 3d game in development through Kickstarter is surely an idiot…;) At least, if it’s true that he couldn’t afford to lose it. Lots of Kickstarter contributors lose 100% of their contributions. Victim? Hardly. Well, maybe a victim of his own stupidity, I suppose–there certainly is no “smoking gun” pointed at his head that forced him to donate one penny–let alone three grand! Sheeesh–he’s lucky they gave him anything back and hopefully he learned a lesson–when you contribute to a kickstarter project you aren’t *buying* anything–you are contributing and the risk is all yours.

      • Jason Lefkowitz says:

        he’s lucky they gave him anything back

        I literally cannot understand the logic there.

        This wasn’t an average Kickstarter, this was a Kickstarter that was dumb enough to guarantee refunds in writing if they failed to meet their ship date.

        It’d be one thing if they were strategically vague on the subject, the way most crowdfunding programs are. In the absence of guarantees to the contrary, then yeah, your “investment” is 100% at risk. But CIG gave them a guarantee, so it’s hardly entitlement run riot to ask for what they were guaranteed they’d be provided. Nobody appears to dispute that CIG failed to meet the conditions they themselves tied the guarantee to, after all.

        I’m kind of amazed their legal counsel let them put that guarantee into the T&Cs in the first place. Why expose yourself like that, when you know that any project this ambitious is going to be risky?

        (The cynical answer, of course, is that the guarantee could persuade people who otherwise would shy away from crowdfunding campaigns precisely because they’re afraid they’ll lose their money to dive in. Which would be more than a little shady if they never intended to honor the guarantee in the first place.)

        • suibhne says:

          Exactly this. CIG’s revision of the TOS was manipulative and disingenuous, and I will never, ever back or buy something from Chris Roberts again.

          I assume the original guarantee was offered in full faith, to encourage people to see pledging as less risky – i.e., to convince backers that the risk profile of the project was in line with developers’ optimistic views. But those views turned out to be total garbage, and CIG knew exactly what it was doing when it deployed untested legalese to wriggle out from under its own public commitments. Shameful.

    • Scelous says:

      Glad to see reason winning out in the comments here. And for the record, I don’t think normally people should be allowed to get a refund for a crowdfunded project – that is the gamble a person takes. But when the creator actually specifies that you can get a refund after a deadline has passed, and then try to renege on that by changing the terms of service…. no. That is some serious BS and I don’t think the creator would have a legal leg to stand on.

    • Sabbatai says:

      A promise that was backed by a Terms agreement where the company failed to uphold their end.

      What’s so stupid about what the customer did?

      He invested in something he believed in which had in its own terms, the language which gave him a means to seek a refund if they didn’t hold up their end. They didn’t and he got a refund.

    • FTLjunky says:

      Why are people so angry with the time limit.. and promises..

      Why i agree with most poeple they probably promised too much and had too big ambitiones for the game as a whole but i dont see a need to call dev´s Fakes or anything like that.. here is why..

      i think everyone in here knows World Of Warcraft. this game was announced to be released abouta year before it came out.
      it never happened.. But no one had posted money in it other than blizzard themselfs.. (To my knowledge) so one one complained that much other than. “Damn i was SO looking forward to that game”

      time went by and the game was 10 years in development.. they changed graphic engine 2 or 3 times so it would live up to expectationes of the current technology and beyond.

      Starcitizen has currently been underway for about 3 years (maybe longer) i heard of it first time 3 years ago..

      witch means if its “only” 3 years in its young life as game in progress.. they still have a few years to perfect and take the edges of the game.. give them time.. altough i do understand the frustration when you personally have money involved you wanna see results.. but as with all donations to a game in progress you take a risk.. its kinda of an investment as you would at the stock market.. sometimes you hit the jackpot.. other times you loose what you invested..

      i´m still optimist as i can see they slowly develop the game as long as i see changes, New content and performance enhancments i have high hopes for this game.. The day you hear NOTHING from dev´s and no new updates are made.. i will consider it as a giant scam.. or maybe just a failed game.. untill then.. i hope the game comes out and lives up to all my expectations..

      Good day to all

  2. RakeShark says:

    I just wanted to say, Arglebargle was right.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Thanks! I hope…. ;)

      • RakeShark says:

        Well, we had long arguments about Roberts’ competency as well as track record. I was a true believer back then. Since about a year ago, I’ve wised up and gotten my money back after hearing some of the horror stories and financial waste. You were of the opinion that Roberts could and perhaps would in fact screw this up.

        And in my experience, you’ve been right.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Sadly, it was just Chris Roberts being Chris Roberts. The more I got to know about him, the less likely a reasonable outcome seemed possible.

  3. cutechao999 says:

    I see both sides here. Some backers are upset because the long haul turned out to be pretty long (although this guy spent thousands, which is a little much if you’re not committed to it). On the other side, CIG doesn’t want people jumping ship as a regular thing, because that would ruin them and any chance they’d have of actually bringing a product to the market.

    • qeloqoo says:

      SC being a huge scam would ruin CIG. I mean ‘will’. Improper use of verbs by me, my bad.

      • Xerophyte says:

        It’s not a scam per se I think, it seems pretty clear that everyone involved wanted and intended to make a big, cool space game. It also seems pretty clear at this point that Chris Roberts is not a responsible person who should be trusted to competently run a company using other people’s money.

        • Arglebargle says:

          Yeah, pretty much the case. Roberts is a real Miles Gloriosus.

      • SyberSmoke says:

        You need to be able to prove that accusation. Given all of the available evidence, there is nothing to show it is a scam. Since there are clear legal definition for that kind of thing.

        A product is being made, the money is being used to pay staff and develop the product. Is it ambitious, yes. Has it expanded and taken more time than was originally thought, you bet. But those elements do not make it a scam in the same league as say a Ponzi Scheme.

        • meskus says:

          Actualy if you at same time write this and make a promise of date with definite refund deadline as developer that opens all options for debate. Someone may even argue that these contradictions in terms were intentional with a goal to get funds from people with false pretense and promises. That could point to mala fides and criminal intent in sufficient degree for court to open a case, depending on legal system and laws it could go in all sorts of a way.

    • Chalky says:

      CIG promised the delivery of a game in Nov 2014. People gave them money for this expecting to see a game in Nov 2014, and their ToS reassured them that if 18 months later there was still no game, they could get their money back.

      People gave CIG their money on that promise. Now they’ve failed to deliver and it’s 18 months later and they’re trying to rob people of their money.

      There’s no “fair enough, it’s a crowd funding project, they can just lie and it’s ok”.

      You have to remember that we’re not talking about a project here that said “we’ll deliver you a game in 2018” and people aren’t being patient. It should have been out in 2014. That’s a long time ago and frankly there’s no sign of anything playable coming out in the near future even now.

      Lack of accountability is the huge problem with this project and giving CIG the freedom to take as much money as they want and deliver nothing is exactly how this came about.

  4. D1E says:

    The user’s name is actually Streetroller. Please correct the article.

    Thank you!

  5. disgust says:

    Original backer here. I was patient for years and followed the development ignoring the constant money grabbing this company performed and the extremely slow development:
    5 years later they haven’t even completed a single system out of the 100 they promised, they’re still in pre-alpha, have barely implemented a fraction of the gameplay features they have promised and even those don’t work properly most of the time. The game they sold to thousands of players is never going to come out or when it does sometime in the distant future, it’ll be a stripped down version of what they’ve promised.

    But what really hit me was watching Chris Roberts play his own game: link to youtube.com

    I really don’t care about my 40 dollars anymore, CIG deserves all the flak it gets.

    • slerbal says:

      I have no particular axe to grind but holy cow that video is funny. That was the antithesis of good :)

      • MisterForkbeard says:

        Seriously. Playing an early build of an alpha on live streaming is and shall always be a bad idea. :P

    • Shadow says:

      Original backer here as well. Chipped in with about $150, knowing full well what I was getting into, and the possibility that the game may take a long while to be released. If at all. It’s the nature of backing anything based on promises and fancy concept art.

      I still think it’s too early to write Star Citizen off, but having a billion other games to play, I’m not obsessed over it, counting the days it’s been in development and longing for a small sum of money I spent 5 years ago. That doesn’t mean I’d be scammed by anyone: I see genuine work put into this, with celebirties in the picture as well, so I can’t take accusations of RSI being “the scum of the Earth” seriously.

      The more a backer has invested, the more they have to be aware of the fact they project may fail despite honest effort. I would theoretically be more pissed about this if I had spent $3000+ on it, but in truth I would’ve never done so due to the risks.

      • SyberSmoke says:

        I agree. This is kind of the issue with Micro Investments (That is what backing is really), The only difference is instead of a couple shares of stock, you get a game. Really that statement of “you get something” was how Kickstarter got around the law against it and why the FTC and SEC were so reticent to open up Micro investment.

        Think about it, most “investors” are people that have a good sum of cash. And they typically invest hundreds of thousands to millions in a business in exchange for a piece of the company. But they are also well aware that the idea could crash and burn and that is part of the accepted risk. They could lose millions with no chance of getting it back.

        Same thing here, you invest (back it) in a game and you may see it come to be. Or it may evaporate and never happen. It is part of the risk, and really…you should never ever risk more than you can lose, because if you do…your future is screwed.

      • HeavyStorm says:

        This.

        I’m a backer as well, and have backed a number of games in the last few years. I understand the rules of the game: I’m not buying anything, I’m not even investing in something. It’s more like I’m donating.

        However, there are legal grounds here. I never knew about the original ToC, but if you have a contract that tells people can leave, you have to honor it. That was really stupid of RSI; either having the ToC and keeping increasing scope or having the ToC in the first place.

        Looking at things more pragmatically:

        – it’s bad for crowdfunding in general that they may be forced to pay people back.
        – it seems the main reason for the legal decision was that this particular project promised to return people their money, which should be more clearly stated in articles such as this, to avoid buyers thinking they will be able to refund other projects in the future.
        – RSI did nothing wrong besides thatc(promising something stupid and taking it back) – we have to agree it’s unusual (and even contradictory) for a project, any project, to guarantee to return money in case of a failure. (they do spend money, don’t they?)
        – the money grabbing attitude of RSI, selling in game items for large sums after they had more than enough funds did even a greater disservice to crowdfunding.
        – Hanlon Razor. There’s nothing to indicate anything more than incompetence being the cause for SC issues.

    • Dinger says:

      Wow. That’s an amazing self-condemnation, far better than even his attack on Smart (and, to another post, yes, you’d ban a developer of an at least theoretically competing product if he started attacking your company publicly, but you wouldn’t be stupid enough to publicly attack him in the process). What level of delusion does it take to livestream something that has never worked, and will not work?
      From the beginning of the KS, Mr. R has built up a public persona as “The Chairman”, like a seemingly-benevolent dictator as portrayed at the beginning of one of them dystopic science fiction films he loves so much. Fancy uniform, dramatic lightining. Now this stream, with multiple cameras, cutting between a clearly broken game and the room shot, showing a hunched-over, aging white dude sitting in front of a “trophy wall” of art depicting what the game was intended to be. All the while, he’s muttering to himself, trying to convince himself the product will be good, that the chat window will be fixed, the key bindings should work.
      Five years in, and the Chairman can show you that he spent a lot of money, but the whole story that he used to earn that money is gone. The Chairman can’t even deliver the Chairman.
      There is no game beyond what you’ve seen. There will be no game. The one bright spot for the Chairman is that, when they go bankrupt in a week or so, he can blame all the other people who broke their promises, withdrawing money when they were just short of a Minimum Viable Product (like they’ve always been).

    • Synesthesia says:

      Good god, that is absolutely pathetic. Shame on them.

    • htran7228 says:

      Officially Star citizen development started in 2013 anything before that was concept and a prototype with a few people working on the game. So they whole I been waiting 5 years thing is BS for people saying that when SC wasn’t in official development until after it was funded in the end of 2012. I’m starting to think people are just becoming way too impatient, did you guys honestly think it would be easy to get a game after a few years of development. Any with a brain would know that with the features they were putting in the game it was going take more than three years to accomplish it. A least get the timeline correct when they had to start a studio and hire people to work on the game. Anything before that is irrelevant when CIG had to start from scratch.

  6. Necron99 says:

    This game needs to change it’s name to; “Kingdoms of Star Citizen; Reckoning of Amalur”.

    • frightlever says:

      If anything KOA:R over-delivered on content. I don’t think that’s a problem for Star Citizen.

      • Baines says:

        To be fair, Amalur started as a plan for an MMO.

        • Ravenine says:

          To be fair, Amalur WAS a single-player MMO, or at least the quests felt like it.

  7. Neurotic says:

    This whole Angry-Star-Citizen-People thing makes me despair for the human race every time it comes up.

  8. Leafcutter says:

    What i’ve always wanted to know is how much does it cost to develop a xxx game these days… Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, GTA 5?

    Is it a minimum of $100M. more or less… the answer would really put Star Citizen into perspective… after all, to their credit they have been completely transparent from day 1 rather than nothing announced until 4-5 years into development.

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      Wikipedia has some figures on that subject, though they’re of varying degrees of reliability.

    • Leafcutter says:

      well based on the contents of the linked information, perhaps what they have so far raised (in todays money) is still less than required to produce what they have promised.

      Problem is the longer they take the more annual salaries / 3rd party contracts have to be paid without seemingly much progress being made.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Um… I assume you mean AAA?

    • Trotar says:

      How are they transparent?

    • Leafcutter says:

      yes sorry AAA…freudian slip lol.

      I don’t monitor all broadcasts, but transparent in so far as they allow the outside world to see and be more involved with the development process where as many are silent and confident enough to remain tight lipped until they have something to show.

      Chris.R failed demo is an example… someone should have been fired there…but stones for showing that bad PR experience.

      just for the record, I havent subscribed and won’t until there is a £/$40-50 product to buy.

  9. D1E says:

    It’s definitely worth noting a couple of things:

    1. The original Terms of Service which the backer agreed to guaranteed the right to refund if the product was not completed within 18 months of the scheduled release date.

    2. CIG/RSI’s attorney lied and stated that the backer had agreed to the new Terms of Service which made no such guarantee.

    All the blame here clearly lies with CIG/RSI for failing to meet their scheduled delivery date, blatantly changing their Terms of Service afterwards, and then providing false information to the AG in attempt to deny the backer’s legitimate claim.

    Personally, I think CIG/RSI are absolute scum. Look at their “alpha PU” release – it’s a stinking pile of hot garbage.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      The ToS agreement may be arguable, depending on how the ToS is written. Most ToS include phrasing that permits the company in question to rewrite the ToS at will, with limited if any ability for a user to refuse the re-written terms. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but these tactics seem to have held up in court so far.

      • KDR_11k says:

        I think that depends on the jurisdiction. With California being the most pro-consumer state of the US that might not work. In the EU it definitely doesn’t work.

        • Cinek says:

          You might be surprised, given the fact that EU consumer laws are far more restrictive than these in California.

      • aepervius says:

        Even if you hold that ToS are binding contract law, I am pretty sure that even the US contract law give you an exit possibility if the ToS are changed. I.O.W. you cannot change the ToS unilaterally and force it down , the new ToS has to be accepted too, even if the acceptance is really only continuing using the service without having to explicitly click on something. In EU you would have to present the new ToS and have to accept it explicitly.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          It’s agreement and notification that I’m most uncertain of. In a lot of cases you have a certain timeframe to object to changes, and silence is taken as assent. And I’m not sure how strict notification requirements are either. I’ve seen some terms of service changes not warrant more than a popup the next time you visit the website.

          I suppose I’m just being negative, and obviously it all has to hold up in a court, but in a nation that is upholding binding arbitration I’m not as optimistic anymore.

    • Janichsan says:

      1. The original Terms of Service which the backer agreed to guaranteed the right to refund if the product was not completed within 18 months of the scheduled release date.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but didn’t the really original TOS even have a shorter deadline, like 12 months or something?

      I’m pretty sure one of the aspects that kicked of the whole Derek Smart feud was that RSI changed their TOS to postpone the date from which on they had to refund their backers for not delivering.

  10. KastaRules says:

    I didn’t pledge any money but now I think I am gonna ask for a refund anyway.

  11. trjp says:

    The whole crowdfunding thing is real ‘wild west’ at the moment and I think it’s worthwhile that people are testing the boundaries for this, because there’s a lot of shady bullshit going-on.

    Star Citizen is almost certainly ‘shady bullshit’ incarnate – they offered a thing – got FAR more money than they asked and so offered more complex things – got FAR more money again, repeat and repeat but they’ve still not really delivered the original thing which is VERY dubious (you can’t take money and change the plan without expecting people to bail)

    Developers don’t take publisher’s money and them make different games entirely – cos they’d never see another dime…

    • gunny1993 says:

      Star Citizen is classic scope/feature creep, designing a product/piece of code then adding features to it after the fact, spreading out your resources when you don’t have experience of handling such massive efficiency ques.

      In short I don’t think it’s shady, just that the original concept was impressive enough, adding more stuff just introduced massive diminishing returns on the value of money donated.

      Anyone who gave such huge amounts of money to it was a fool and they deserve all the disappointment they get, especially if they viewed it as an investment.

      I threw 100 odd quid at it and immediately wrote that money off as a 100% loss, because I’m smart but didn’t mind spending a bit of spare cash on a project that (initially) looked ambitious but doable.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        The excuses Star Citizen donors make are always funny to read. “I only spent 150 dollars! Those suckers who spent 1,500 are idiots!”

        • gunny1993 says:

          Matter of relativity, 150 dollars isn’t a massive amount of money for most people, I guess spending a lot more isn’t so bad if you have a lot more to throw around.

  12. ScubaMonster says:

    They made their own bed when they said refunds would be available if they didn’t deliver within a specific time frame. Don’t make promises if you can’t or won’t deliver on them. Retroactively scrubbing it from your TOS is underhanded.

  13. turkeydrumstick says:

    The full text of the relevant clause is:
    RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website. However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you within eighteen (18) months after the estimated delivery date.
    What I am wondering is, have RSI ever officially extended their estimated release date? Because if they have, it seems like they’ve given themselves an easy out and this take-backsies clause is not legally applicable (IANAL blah blah etc.).

    Now, morally on the other hand…

    • MisterForkbeard says:

      Morally, I feel like you’re not entitled to a refund for crowdfunding if you don’t like the way it’s going. Crowdfunding is not pre-ordering and comes with significant risk.

      It’s more “I’m going to give you money to try and make this thing and if you make I get X” rather than “I’m giving you money and getting X”.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but it strikes me as morally wrong to demand your money back when you agreed to hand it over to a project you knew had significant risk and had agreed to said risk in the first place.

      • turkeydrumstick says:

        “We promise to deliver your stuff within 18 months of the announced date, unless we change our minds and move the date” don’t sound a bit skeezy to you?

        Also, it’s unclear if the person in question was a kickstarter backer or part of crowdsourcing directly through RSI, but if it is the latter then it definitely is a pre-order as that is done from a store page with shopping cart and terms of service (the very same he was calling upon as basis for his refund) and everything else.

        • malkav11 says:

          Yes, it sounds skeezy. Not because development is taking forever (that’s just making games, especially when your pitch is ridiculously (impossibly) ambitious), but because they promised something that was never realistic in the first place.

          • SyberSmoke says:

            The idea is fine, even the adding of features is fine. Really the only issue people are having at this point is the time frame. Simply put the original crowd funding video and such were mockups. They were working on something, but there was no game.

            With the crowd funding, that can be said when they started real production. And given how much effort goes into games (years and years) this time frame is not terribly unreasonable. Really the only difference is that we are seeing it from the start instead of being hit with 5 months of hype train then buying our copy off steam for $60. It is just Dev cycle vs Hype cycle, it is not magic.

          • malkav11 says:

            I sincerely doubt that they’ll be able to deliver on the concept they pitched in the Kickstarter, but I’d be happy to be surprised and I would probably give them money if it ever does deliver on that pitch. That said, I specifically meant that it’s unrealistic to promise any sort of specific timeframe for any videogame that had not meaningfully existed at the stage of being Kickstarted, much less one of this scope and ambition.

      • Pantalaimon says:

        What about the morality of going against terms you’ve laid out? Reneging on them and then debating with your customers about their entitlement to those terms? These are far more ominous things. You simply do not get into back and forth debate with your customers. Give them their money, they leave happy on good terms, you retain a well-meaning public image. Nobody looks favourably on the multi-million dollar company hoarding what is relatively a pittance, and refuting their customers good faith.

        Realistically, this ‘spirit of crowdfunding’ is neither here nor there, the legal system makes a mockery of such notions. At any rate, the backers are currently the only ones holding up their end. Maybe decades from now when these things have been tested repeatedly in court, sure; you give money to a crowdfunding project, you’d be considered morally obliged to stick it out, as well as even legally, but that’s nowhere near the current consensus opinion, as proven by this case.

      • hpoonis says:

        I fail to see how anyone can defend CIG/RSI/(whichever acronym they decide to employ) by paraphrasing, “you pays your money, you takes your choice”. In this case, promising to deliver a perfect apple using publicly-donated money is NOT the same as, “now promising to deliver a big box of perfect apples, each of which needs to be hand-grown, in the same orchard but each from a different tree”. The wording of “unforseen developments” would appear incorrect. If you have a plan stick to it. If the outcome of that plan can be improved then do so after the original plan has been put in place. Making excuses such as, ” we decided to alter the original product by rewriting it for all the extra goodness your money can buy”, is akin to Barnum and Bailey fooling some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time. This is your time. I will cite EVE Online as an example of useful development. The original EVE online was probably quite different and used other technology to deliver their end-product. However, they still released a product and keep on developing it while it is live. Most gamers will hardly complain if their altered product looks and plays the same but with improved gameplay, visuals, sound or interface yet forces them to remove, reinstall, recreate, or reboot to achieve that end. It would be a better consumer model to have released a solid version of the original offering and improve upon that than to dangle an expensive carrot in the faces of the paying public and just promise a better carrot.

    • Bforceny says:

      You forgot to bold “good faith”…

    • mike2R says:

      >What I am wondering is, have RSI ever officially extended their estimated release date? Because if they have, it seems like they’ve given themselves an easy out

      That isn’t how it reads to me. They say the date is estimated and may be changed, and then go on to say that because the date is estimated, they have an 18 month grace period from the estimated date before refunds can be a thing.

      I don’t see that this can be interpreted as, “we may change the estimate, and no refunds can happen unless the last estimate we gave has slipped by 18 months.” The 18 month period is from the original estimate.

  14. MisterForkbeard says:

    This is missing a couple of important pieces of info, I think.

    First, the guy was legally entitled to PART of his refund as per the Terms Of Service. When the guy bought into the game, the TOS stated that he could get a refund after June 2016 if he wanted, but that it would be pro-rated. Basically – he acknowledged that his funding would be used to make the game, and that whatever portion of it was used to try and make his pledge items wasn’t refundable. When they refunded him $2250, they gave the user more than he was legally entitled to under the most friendly reading of the terms of service.

    Second, they added a new TOS in mid-June 2016 that you have to agree to in order to play the game. That updated TOS basically tells you that under current standards, you can’t get refunded for crowdfunding except under catastrophic failure conditions.

    Basically, I wouldn’t expect to see many more refunds.

    • Love Albatross says:

      Their TOS do not take precedence over the law. They could write whatever damn thing they please in there, doesn’t make it legal.

      So yeah, refunds can continue.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Well if TOS don’t take precedence over the law then how does the guy get a refund based on something they wrote in the TOS?

        Seems like it would then have to be done on a case by case, state by state basis

        • TheAngriestHobo says:

          He gets a refund because a TOS amounts to a contractual agreement, with all the legal responsibilities that implies. It’s not superseding the law, it’s bound by it.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Seems like it would be a damn foolish thing for anyone to put something like that into a legal document that seems so one way then.

          • Sir_Eric says:

            He got that refund because they were annoyed by him and didn’t want to go to (even more) court because of 2k$. Him getting a refund doesn’t say anything about the validity of the TOS.

          • Love Albatross says:

            “He got that refund because they were annoyed by him and didn’t want to go to (even more) court because of 2k$. Him getting a refund doesn’t say anything about the validity of the TOS.”

            hahaha no. They refunded because they knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on.

            It’s been shown time and time again that CIG will fight tooth and nail (or just flat out ignore people) until any kind of authority gets involved, at which point they capitulate and play it off like it’s a special exception and they’re doing them a favour. Oh and we’re actually glad to have got rid of someone who didn’t have faith in the project and furthermore

      • SyberSmoke says:

        Under the law, he is considered and “investor”. Under that term, there is an acceptance of risk when making that investment. If the company flies, you get the rewards based on the terms of your investment. BUT if the company flops…you’re usually out of luck.

        Sure you can sue to recoup the losses when the company dissolves. But all investors should be prepared to just write off their money, be it $10 or $10 million, and walk away.

        • suibhne says:

          At least in the US, this is utter nonsense. Backing a Kickstarter campaign in no way gives you the legal category of “investor”. (In fact, the legal category of accredited “investor” in the US is very hard to enter, with high net worth requirements. That’s one of the reasons that platforms like Fig have had to wait for more recent micro-equity guidelines to be rolled out, and Kickstarter isn’t touching equity crowdsourcing with a barge pole.)

          • SyberSmoke says:

            That is why when Kickstarter came about, the SEC and FTC were looking at and opened a category called Micro Investor. That opened the doors for us being investors in a product over just being backers.

          • Already Gone says:

            An “accredited investor” is not a synonym for “investor”, it is a subset. Specifically, it refers to well-heeled investors who are assumed to be sophisticated and exempt from a lot of the protectors that ordinary investors receive. A person whose net worth is $50 USD, of which $25 is a share of ABC Corporation common stock, is an investor in ABC Corporation and is entitled to all the rights and protections entitled to such. They could also lose 100% of their investment if ABC Corporation were to go under and its liquidation was not enough to cover its liabilities (e.g., repaying creditors, who are closer to the front of the line than a common stockholder).

          • suibhne says:

            Again, Syber, your post is simply wrong. There is no legal category of “micro investor” in the US. None. Nada. Doesn’t exist. And while the JOBS Act did open the possibility of crowdfunded equity, the SEC only published final rules on Title III about a month ago; until late May of this year, equity crowdfunding was still limited to accredited investors. This is why Fig has previously limited all of its equity crowdfunding to accredited investors (and exactly why I explained that category, Already Gone). And heck, it’s all immaterial anyway, because so far Kickstarter has consistently indicated it will not support equity crowdfunding, for accredited or non-accredited investors.

            Outside of equity crowdfunding, there’s absolutely nothing about backing a Kickstarter project that puts you in the same category as a small shareholder. And Kickstarter absolutely does not participate in equity crowdfunding, never has, probably never will.

        • froz says:

          Why people insist so much with this BS. No, kickstarter backers are not investors in any meaning of that word. They are consumers who pre-order products, usually paying more or much more what they are worth. You could say that it’s closer to charity than to investment.

          If it was investment, than it’s something completely different legally. I don’t know US law, but at least in Europe investors are entitled to some specific knowledge about the company they invest in and, guess what, they get shares for their investments. Not a vague promise to get products created by the company, but shares and a promise of future profits. That’s what investment is. Every other use of that word comes from marketing, from people that want you to feel good about spending your money just like you would be doing “a good thing” and save it instead of spending it all. Please stop doing it, it only confuses more people and everyone who backs any project on kickstarter should be aware what it really means.

        • PST says:

          link to polygon.com

          Quite apart from everyone else correcting you, it seems that the US Legal system doesn’t agree either.

    • PST says:

      There have already been hundreds of refunds. Anyone in the EU, UK or Australia is entitled to one because their TOS/EULA are expressly unlawful and violate consumer law in those areas.

      So yes, there will be more refunds, I know of at least 100 people who’ve gotten their money out. And at least one actual investor (as in serious money investor) in CIG when it first started who got their investment out when they saw the way the wind was blowing.

  15. Sardonic says:

    Glad I got out of this garbage fire with some profit, still wish I had backed elite though instead. Would have saved me much anaconda collision with asteroid money.

  16. Love Albatross says:

    Everyone keeps using the word crowdfunding, but star citizen hasn’t been crowdfunded since the Kickstarter ended. They (heavily) advertise “sales” of ships and and charge vat for purchases. That is not crowdfunding, it’s pre ordering.

    If you’re in the EU or anywhere else with good consumer protection you can get your money back now, regardless of what any of their TOS say, because CIG has not yet delivered the product.

    Citizen, get a refund while you still can.

  17. aircool says:

    I fully support this action.

  18. Elric666 says:

    I pleged 35$ to Star Citizen and since then I have been -out- of the whole process, just waiting for the game. A couple of times I glanced at the newsletter or looked at the site, and was surprised that you can buy ships for hundreds of dollars. I don’t get why anyone would do that. Aren’t you supposed to earn those ships by playing the game? I guess it’s one of these MMO things – pay real money to avoid the grinding. I don’t play MMO’s but hundreds of dollars for a ship in a PC game seems ridiculous. The fact that someone can spend thousands of dollars on a game that doesn’t even exist yet, is disturbing.

    There’s something wrong with Star Citizen and with the guy who got the refund.

  19. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    Frontier were subject to similar proceedings (except in the UK) when they removed offline mode.
    What is it about Crowdfunded games that means legal action is the only way to resolve issues?

  20. SomeDuder says:

    Wait a minute. Wait just a minute.

    Are you saying that spending money on a game that, despite having received in excess of 3 milion dollars from clueless manchildren and being in development for multiple YEARS, is a terrible idea?

    Golly. Glad I found out before flushing my bankaccount down the imaginary space-toilet of “Roberts Space Industries”.

    • Scelous says:

      I’m trying to figure out what part makes them manchildren. Because they like video games at all? Because they wanted to recapture some Wing Commander joy from their youth? Or because they crowdfunded something (which has led to successful products, like Pillars of Eternity)?

      • Zenicetus says:

        I think the difference from those who backed PoE runs something like this:

        1) The scale of the funding… thousands of dollars? Really?
        2) The fact that this isn’t the only new cockpit-level space game out there. It’s not like space sims will die without SC.
        3) Chris Roberts’ history in the biz.

        Anyone who did any research on #3 in particular, might have been a bit more cautious about throwing more than the cost of a typical AAA game at this.

  21. Sir_Eric says:

    Man, the crazy people are having a party here. A scam…rofl. A scam with hundreds of people working on it and actually developing the game they promised. Worst scam ever!

    • milligna says:

      Nobody ever accused Roberts of efficiently spending people’s money – just of mismanaging the project since he hasn’t delivered a game for 20 years and has no clue what’s required in modern gaming. The man is an incompetent. That he’s bloated his companies out beyond all recognition with hundreds of people isn’t a testament to his trustworthiness.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      People who say it’s a scam are just angry and using the wrong terms to convey their frustration. Calling it a scam implies that at some level Roberts is deliberately not trying to finish the game or is using the money for something else.

      That’s not it at all, the problem here isn’t fraud, it’s incompetence. If you could call any part of this whole thing a scam it would be that they convinced people they were capable of doing something they clearly aren’t.

      I was saying right back when this kickstarter first started, why you would put your faith in Chris Roberts is beyond me. A man that hasn’t been relevant in the industry for almost 2 decades and even when he was he didn’t have a particularly great track record. Some of his games were good, some were rubbish and even the good ones always felt decidedly indie. Why on Earth would you choose him to lead a modern AAA title?

      At the rate Star Citizen is going, it’s going to end up coming out in 2019 and end up looking decidedly ordinary next to it’s competitors.

    • Cropduster says:

      And they have so much to show for all that time and money!

  22. Grapeaid says:

    Ah yes, a gesture of good will that they had to be threatened legally to make. How nice of them.

  23. racccoon says:

    Star Citizen Cloud Imperium Games are crooks & liars, I’m glad I got my refund, as their game is just a trashed up graphical bunch of theatrics, all based on their stage performances which are made to make it all look overwhelming when its just a play on getting more money out of an already full sponge that’s dripping cash from peer group followers. This sponge in crowd funding should of been rinsed years ago & held accounted by law. It is the biggest Crowd funding CON ever created.

  24. Spatial says:

    I knew SC was stillborn the moment Chris Roberts posted that insane screed about Derek Smart right on the official webpage. The CEO OF THE COMPANY publicly going nuts over some random critic and then purging their account. Wow.

    Also employing your own wife as a director. No matter how good your intentions are, behaviour like that never ends well even at the best of times. It’s a very bad sign.

    • malkav11 says:

      Not that it makes much difference – still a dumb move on Roberts’ part – but Derek Smart isn’t “some random critic”. He’s an infamous industry figure and has been making space games for decades now. Not exactly widely lauded ones, but they apparently sell enough to keep him in business.

    • C0llic says:

      If you knew who Derek Smart was, the decision makes more sense. He’s a game developer primarily famous for his notoriety (responsible for some truly atrocious space games) and for his tendency toward vicious, unprofessional flame wars with customers and critics.

      I’m very sceptical about Star Citizen and would never back it, but if I had a funded project and Derek Smart popped up threatening to cause trouble, I think I’d seriously consider kicking him out too.

      • Janichsan says:

        Well, sure: Derek Smart is a pompous bastard with a history of over-promising and over-selling his often failing attempts at games.

        On the other hand: when even someone with such a history calls out another developer for over-promising and over-selling, it lends his claims some weird credibility…

    • Laurentius says:

      Same, these screed make them look so unprofesional, like a new level of unprofesionally.

    • Cropduster says:

      Well both of them seem to have reached their professional nadirs, although Smart has nothing to loose but face (which he seemingly couldn’t care less about), while Crobberts may well be heading into a failcascade unlike anything seen before. A Daikatana for the modern era.

      • PST says:

        I think SC’s collapse will make Daikatana look like a minor blip in comparison.

    • VOAD says:

      Try to take a second to look at great multi Million/billion family business (Forbes article) and you see that success do require people you trust. Many of these families are behind well-known brands – Gore-Tex, Campbell’s soup, Estee Lauder cosmetics, Coors and Budweiser beer, Comcast cable TV, to name just a few. They provide 10’s thousands of jobs to people… Your word on CR’s wife are out of place at best. By the way is brother Ervin is also part of the company.

  25. Bforceny says:

    It’s not a good situation for anyone: the backer is still disappointed and spent a lot of time and energy on the refund, and CIG got rid of an annoying thorn on their side but possibly set a precedent for other backers to get a refund. It’s a mess. Kids, if there’s anything we can learn from it business-wise is to do what you said you’ll do, on time. Be honest with yourself in terms of what you can do, and say what you mean instead of saying words to appease your clients and then dancing around with the meaning of your words when they complain.

  26. Cerulean Shaman says:

    I removed my backing after I saw it blowing up and all the damn stuff being added and planned. I was like, nope, this game isn’t going to come out anytime soon so I’ll just wait and a pay a couple extra bucks… now I’m just going to buy the Squadron story-based game and if the online part isn’t just some over exaggerated MMORPG I might jump in.

    Still, Star Citizen is a pretty legendary joke on the internet now for a reason, I guess. It’d be amusing for all this fuss and money only for it to crash and burn when it releases by going too shallow and wide and not deep and interesting enough…

    It didn’t help that Elite Dangerous did the same thing, originally promising an offline mode akin to Freelancer. Instead they delivered an always on MMORPG with the same MMORPG treadmills as every other one, except they really aren’t that good.

    They at least had the balls to offer refunds themselves when they announced the changes, so I don’t get the people defending Star Citizen’s company. He pledged money, investors invest money all the time, and if you suddenly decide you want to turn your game into a kiddie porn paradise the investors DO get to slap you across the face. Kickstarter is essentially using your customers as investors which admittedly makes it a bit more hazy, and yes idiots, change is part of development, but when -drastic- change happens the final product is different as a result. Thus, you’re funding something significantly else and any refund SHOULD be honored without complaint.

    • mitthrawnuruodo says:

      I agree with you completely.

      Its pathetic that the two games that were supposed to resurrect this genre instead chose to exploit the starving fans with fake promises and shallow grindy garbage. At this point X Rebirth is a better game than those two combined despite its many problems.

      • milligna says:

        To hell with that. How dare you conflate Frontier with flim flam merchants like CIG – they at least ship products, meet most deadlines, offered refunds when they couldn’t provide offline mode, and without fanfare have provided an absolutely impeccable VR experience at the forefront of the field while mushmouthed dreamers like Roberts merely spent years flapping his lips about and staring into cameras for hundreds of hours with those ghastly, utterly stoned eyes.

        If Braben sat up all night doing lines writing a 15 page rant to The Escapist, I must have missed it.

        • mitthrawnuruodo says:

          They did not provide refunds to everyone who wanted offline mode. There were lots of ifs and buts. I backed for offline single player, and when I asked for refund they refused because I had internet access.

          The product they shipped was a shallow unfinished pointless tedious waste of time. And now they are asking for another full game price for updates. Elite Tedious is nearly as pathetic as Farce Citizen.

          • Chalky says:

            It’s ironic that the reasons you’re angry at elite (cutting impractical features in order to get released, ending up not having enough content) is the exact opposite of why star citizen is failing (adding hundreds of additional impractical features and never getting released, having no content because nothing works).

            Given a choice, I’d choose to have a game released that they can add to over time and learn lessons from than the complete disaster that is Star Citizen. I’d prefer a good game over either though.

          • mitthrawnuruodo says:

            I have no issues with post-launch additions. But thats not what Frontier is doing. It has completely abandoned major solo-play features (NPC wingmen and crew for solo players, save games, offline etc). AND they are asking for obscene amount of money for new updates.

          • Zenicetus says:

            “Elite Tedious is nearly as pathetic as Farce Citizen.”

            I disagree because at least there is a functioning game there, for those players who wanted a full-on MMORPG experience.

            It’s not what I signed on for, because I wanted a singleplayer game, and yes, leaving aside the offline thing, we were essentially lied to in the Beta, and told the game would be as much fun to play in Solo mode as in MP. That didn’t happen.

            But Frontier did release a working game that pleased at least part of their backer community. It’s not a completely mismanaged (and possibly intentionally fraudulent) project like SC. They just chose a direction I don’t agree with.

    • Premium User Badge

      melnificent says:

      Minor thing, Frontier didn’t offer refunds. They were forced to give them. The refund method was to ask, ask after refusal, Letter before action, get refund. Some however did make it all the way to submitting a court claim. which is the only case where Frontier “offered” a refund.

    • VOAD says:

      Not only I did not request a refund but put 500 extra $ in it. Despite the words of a fandfull of vew people, they raised 20 extra millions $ since DS the loser started is campaign against his old ennemy CR. That say a lot about how people perceive CR… and game is still in Alpha.

  27. Inu says:

    Yes… get bigger SC… MUCH BIGGER! It will burn so much more gloriously *maniacal laughter*

  28. mitthrawnuruodo says:

    Good! This should have been happening long ago.

    Hopefully this is a wake up call for CIG / RSI whatever they are called.

  29. NephilimNexus says:

    Chris Roberts walks into a fast food joint and orders lunch. They ring up his order, take his money, and tell him his food will be out in a minute.

    A half-hour later he still hasn’t gotten his food, so he complains to the manager. The manager replies thus:

    “You made your purchase of these food items to pay for the cooking of a ‘Big Kahuna Burger.’ When you contributed your payment it was applied to the upkeep of this company and the team and resources needed to make it happen.”
    “It would not be appropriate to use our current customer’s payments to refund an earlier purchase which has already been used for food & employee costs. Put simply, ‘takebacks’ are not in the spirit of our business.”

    Chris Roberts then yells a few racial slurs at the manager, then drags his wife out of the bathroom so fast she doesn’t even have time to finish her line of coke, gets into his Bugatti Veyron and zooms off.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Metaphor euphoria.
      At least the SC spectacle has enough fodder for a really thick book in a decade or two. Perhaps as a tie-in to the SC pre-beta release.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Only funding a project and buying a product are VERY different things.

    • D1E says:

      Chris Roberts doesn’t have a Bugatti. He has a limited edition Porsche (or three actually, which CIG is rumored to be leasing on his behalf so that benefit is in addition to his salary).

  30. Anti-Skub says:

    I love the wording of that last response, using phrases like “terminate his participation” and “close complainant’s account permanently” to try and make it sound like it was their choice and that he’s losing out…it’s so pathetic. Like a girl who has been dumped by her boyfriend telling anyone who’ll listen “No, I dumped HIM! He wasn’t good enough for me”

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, they have a weird habit of doing this when ever they’re forced to give a refund that they previously tried to fight. I’m not sure who they thing they’re kidding with their “we only gave it to them because we decided they weren’t good enough to give us money” crap.

      • hpoonis says:

        They sound like a cheap whore, the money is more important than the penis attached to it.

  31. ooshp says:

    As a low level backer I feel like I’ve already got my money’s worth of entertainment just reading about how much of a dick Roberts can be. Honestly it’ll be worth every cent even if I never see a decent game.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah I’ve got to agree. I think I backed it for $20 or some thing on day one and so far I’ve had more enjoyment reading about this whole debacle than I’ve had actually playing it.

      I’m not too worried if it all goes to pot as it wouldn’t be the first kickstarter I’ve backed that’s failed, but then I’ve haven’t invested $100’s or $1000’s in this.

  32. milligna says:

    Molyneux gets asked if he’s a pathological liar, where’s similar treatment for Chris Roberts? At least Molyneux managed to ship a few games since Populous.

    • Arglebargle says:

      A long time co-worker of Roberts at Origin told me, ‘Chris Roberts believes everything he says, regardless of its relationship to reality.’ Said it was one of the reasons he could be so convincing at times.

    • Humppakummitus says:

      Good point there. There’s a gloriously uncomfortable RPS interview in this.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      A man with a vision.

      Steve Jobs was removed from Apple on the past because of (among other things) throwing money at projects that never ended and spent more money than they should.

      I’m not making a case against Steve nor playing devil’s advocate for Roberts. Just saying that maybe, to be able to envision things, people need to be removed from reality and trust their dream.

      And then some of those people deliver (maybe because they had great people around them to make it happen), and most fail.

      (as to the comment about populous, it got me wondering… How many projects did Chris deliver? 4 or 5 Wing Commanders?)

      • Arglebargle says:

        Roberts hasn’t released a game in 20 years. Roberts has never delivered on a project where he wasn’t under the umbrella of Origin/EA. In Digital Anvil’s four years, they never released an in-house game. Freelancer was a year and a half late, and out of money, when DA was sold to Microsoft. It still took three more years to get a realistic version out.

        Roberts’ real cleverness was in pushing immersion. So if you liked the cut scenes best in the later WCs, you appreciated the lion’s share of his work. In those later two he focused much of his time in the film work. The game aspects? Not so much.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Kinda misread that. Roberts helmed Strike Commander (three years late and way overbudget), and Wing Commanders 3 and 4. He didn’t do WC2.

  33. HumpX says:

    Derek Smart was…..right?

    • C0llic says:

      A stopped clock is right twice a day.

      • Chalky says:

        True that. Derek Smart makes shitty video games which makes him uniquely skilled at spotting other people making shitty video games.

    • VOAD says:

      Here is a few lines I answered directly to Derek a couple day ago. the guy run away as usual…

      Problem is that you speak a lot and lie even more. Problem is not the TOS. CIG decided by themself to refund this guy because he was toxic to the community… as they did to you ;)

      URL about Asylium is pretty interesting. Beside all games I bought in my life, Asylium is definitively closer on spirit of LOD than anything CR’s delivered in the past or delivering right now… let me copy the Attorney sentence a bit if you do not mind: “If you accept money from consumers, and don’t follow through on your obligations, my office will hold you accountable”
      In your case, you are smart enough to never be accountable in front of a court, despite your miserable attitude toward gaming community but we gamers remember who release crap and who did not.
      The fact you never attempted seriously to crowfund your game say a lot…
      CR: 117.325.623$ and counting (yes including 3K$ refund…)
      DS: zero $… and a blog (I do not even count the Coke machine)

      Lets talk about refund policy of LOD… those poor guys who did not know you, spend some cash… did you refund them from your own wallet or do you still hide behind Valve rules? Do they play a game or even a Beta? May be an Alpha to play with? CIG is heading to release 2.5…

  34. geldonyetich says:

    It’d be bad news for Chris Roberts if it turns out the pot of gold at the end of the kickstarter rainbow has a bottom after all.

  35. BobbyDylan says:

    I applied for a refund in December last year, and was refused. Maybe I should have pushed back harder.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Or maybe… it’s just time to let it go and move on.

      • milligna says:

        why? What this company does is obscene. Anybody uncomfortable with supporting their activities SHOULD be trying to get their money back.

        • HeavyStorm says:

          Yes, it is. But when I gave them my money… Well, I gave them the money. They could be partying with it, and there wouldn’t be a God damn thing for me to do. I trusted then when I did what I did; they broke that trust so I will no longer support them. But I won’t ask for my money back, this wasn’t part of the deal.

          Unless, in this particular case, it is. If they had that in their ToC, then by all means, get it back. But I wouldn’t play the innocent. A lot of projects fail every day.

          In short, backing a project and prebuying a product are very different things.

          • LexW1 says:

            They are, but when they started selling ships, they crossed the line into pre-selling a product. Anyone who has paid for ships has a legitimate case for a refund, at least of however much they paid for the ships.

            I could see a case for no refund for the $40 or $80 or whatever for the game – but the ships and the like? No. That’s pre-selling.

      • Chalky says:

        No, get a refund if you want one. They’ve missed every deadline they’ve provided and they need the accountability that refunds cause. They need to know that if they miss another deadline, there will be a direct financial impact on them.

        They can’t just keep throwing stupid new features onto this already bloated joke of a game and thinking they have infinite time and infinite money. Other people’s money at that.

        If they need to cut stupid additional features like procedurally generated wildlife that can be captured as pets in order to actually release a game then so be it! The more refunds the better, lets see what happens first: the game comes out or the money disappears.

        • Premium User Badge

          Cross says:

          And *when* the money disappears, you want to be one of the people who got out ahead.

    • PST says:

      If you live in the UK, EU or Australia there are very easy steps you can take to get a refund, I’ll gladly walk you through them.

      In the US, assuming you can’t get a chargeback from your bank (who may or may not protect you) then you might have to go through the same steps as Streetroller did, but they’ll absolutely not want to risk disclosure so will fold with appropriate legal pressure.

  36. Laurentius says:

    When Kickstarter campaign started and I was considering backing it because I thought it would what orginal Freelancer was meant to be, that means Freelancer plus simiulation going beneath it ( ships, trade,economy, factions). Which I though was ambitious enough project since no one has done it to this day. But tbh with this feature creep that proceeded I kind of lost hope that even initial idea will be delivered.

  37. KayAU says:

    I think crowdfunding is great, when used as a way for developers to collect donations. I myself donated $30 to what seemed like an interesting game from Chris Roberts. As with all projects I back, I hope I’ll get that game in the end, but I am prepared to “lose” the money, as it was a donation, not a purchase.

    Knowing what I know today, though, I would not have backed Star Citizen. It’s been in development for far too long, and things started looking sketchy when they started selling virtual ships for large amounts of real money, long before the game was anywhere near finished. This story makes it a lot worse. Changing your TOS and then trying to deny refunds according to the original terms, is what I would call downright fraudulent.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Heck, you explained it better than myself.

    • LexW1 says:

      Well said. The two big problems here have been:

      1) Massive scope creep. Literally unprecedented in gaming history, I think. I cannot think of a single game which increased it’s scope during design to the degree which this has. We’re talking several times the original scope. Certainly not games which actually succeeded.

      2) Really bad tactics like selling ships for $$$. That’d be fine if creepy after release, or at least after the game was in a very solid beta. But when the game doesn’t meaningfully exist? Jesus.

  38. r3dl4nce says:

    I’m not a backer of Star Citizen. Now I hope every backer of this project should ask for their refund, and they must obtain it.
    There is no hope to see this project finished, it’s all false promises, frauds and money grabbing.
    Crowdfunding if very bad for the videogame industry, when people like Chris Roberts use crowdfunding to make frauds projects, they should be stopped by laws.

    • Cropduster says:

      To be fair there have been plenty of awesome games made through crowed funding. Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity OS, etc. What they all have in common is that they stuck to their original scope and any additional funds got spent on spit n polish (not that I backed any of them, just bought on release).

      Hell Pillars was my bestest game of last year, and I really hope that Robert’s whale milking factory doesn’t ruin what has been a pretty great thing for many of us.

      • PST says:

        When (not if) it collapses it is certainly going to cause a chilling effect and probably increased legislation on crowdfunding.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      I’m pretty sure you don’t mean crowdfunding is bad for the industry, right?

      Crowdfunding enabled a number of great things. Some projects fail sometimes, but that’s to be expected. I’ve funded maybe 8 games and this is the only one which probably will never deliver.

      • LexW1 says:

        This is very bad for crowdfunding, frankly. What Roberts is showing, essentially, is the crowdfunding should only be for small-scale projects, and has no potential to be used for larger-scale ones, because the risks of mismanagement are simply too large.

        The ludicrously large pledges he has been soliciting are also bad for crowdfunding, frankly, as they’re vacuuming up money that might well go into other games, ones which might actually turn out to be decent.

  39. Premium User Badge

    zaphod6502 says:

    The majority of backers (1.4 million+) are more than happy for RSI to continue development on the game.

    As for encouraging every backer to demand their money back to force the project to fail? What a juvenile statement.

    • disgust says:

      There’s 1.4 million accounts on the SC website. The actual backers are around 500k as stated recently.

      Also would you mind showing a source that “the majority of backers” does whatever?

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Lot of hate going on.

      What amazes me the most is that it comes from people who *haven’t* backed the project (I’m assuming that because they say “I hope everyone will ask for a refund” without saying “I’m asking for mine now”).

      Maybe I shouldn’t be amazed. That’s people who didn’t invest, so they never thought about the risks involved. Maybe never crowdfunded anything and so doesn’t understand (or inherently disagrees with) the mechanism.

      • LexW1 says:

        That makes no sense at all.

        “That’s people who didn’t invest, so they never thought about the risks involved. Maybe never crowdfunded anything and so doesn’t understand (or inherently disagrees with) the mechanism.”

        No. Just no.

        The people who didn’t “invest” are precisely the people who considered the risks involved. That is WHY they didn’t invest, because they knew this would be fucked up, especially with Roberts involved. I’ve Kickstartered a dozen or more games over various formats (tt RPG, computer game, board game, etc.), and because I actually consider the risks, and look at the people involved, NONE of those have been failures. Some mildly disappointing, but only in the same limited way pre-ordering a computer game that turns out to be “only okay” is disappointing. No straight-up failures to deliver, no games a year or more over schedule, etc.

        So you’re completely and utterly wrong. Indeed it would be hard to be more wrong. The people who don’t “invest”, especially who don’t invest thousands of dollars are precisely those who understand the risks involved. It’s the people who do throw money at this kind of project who do not (either that or they’re so rich they don’t care, which is sort of worse).

      • hpoonis says:

        One cannot compare crowd-funding with venture capital. Ie, corporate investment in an idea/future product with consumer funding. Your average business investor can offset any funding as a business loss, whereas ‘Joe Public’ is usually more emotional in his use of money. I will not support any crowd-funding as it is a one-sided business model: the owners/management of these entities are NOT risking any monies of their own yet are superbly content to rake in the cash and profits (if any) from these schemes whilst returning NONE of it to the original investors.

      • PST says:

        It’s not an investment, it’s a pre-order. They advertise ‘sales’ and ‘discounts’.

        They charge VAT in Europe, that’s expressly a tax on the purchase of goods and services, it does not apply to investments or donations.

  40. Arglebargle says:

    If you folks want to see a classic example of why the production of the game has been foundering, hunt up the David Jennison letter. It’s an analysis of the disfunction of the CIG team due to Roberts (mis)management. It was not intended for publication, but was leaked, though Jennison has later acknowledged it.

    Ran it past a friend who worked with Roberts at Origin and he commented that it sounded typical of a Roberts production.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Too bad this stories didn’t surfaced earlier, like “when working with him during Wing Commander xxx, Robert proved to mismanage and push the project towards failure”.

      Maybe if they had, early on, people would have second thoughts on backing it.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Pre-internet. And the games industry was somewhat different back then.

      • LexW1 says:

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’d heard he was fun-but-incompetent way back in the ’90s, around the time the X Strike games were coming out, and Roberts’ involvement was a major reason I never backed the games. It just seemed too risky.

  41. Maxheadroom says:

    I backed this for more than I’d like to admit but still a hell of a lot less than this guy.

    It was so long ago now though that I’ve written it off so may as well sit back and watch this train wreck of a bloated pipe dream from the front row

    And who knows, maybe it will turn out to be awesome and everything that was promised after all

    • PST says:

      Probably better to get your money back, if you’re in the UK, Australia or Europe then there are very easy steps to take as the law covers you 100% on your right to a refund and their EULA is in violation of consumer law in those areas. In the US you might have to go as far as Streetroller did, but it’s now clear they’ll fold rather than risk disclosure.

  42. horsemedic says:

    I didn’t wake up today wanting to defend this ridiculously over-promised game, but Brendan and most commenters are misreading the original ToS, namely by ignoring this clause:

    “For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items.”

    In other words: so long as the dev has spent the pledge money, the backer has no right to a refund, regardless of whether the game ships 18 months late or 36 months late or never.

    • PST says:

      Just because they write stuff in their TOS does not mean it’s supported under consumer law.

      As evidenced by how they’ve rolled over every time people have pushed for a refund. This is not the first, there have been hundreds of people who’ve gotten them.

      There wouldn’t be ongoing investigations into them if they could just point at their TOS and say ‘see, it says no one gets anything they paid for’.

      Also pledge is completely the wrong legal terminology and they’re idiots for using it.

      The original backers on kickstarter were crowdfunding it (albeit that’s covered under consumer law as well), ever since then it’s been a pre-order process, with regular sales and offers and appropriate sales taxes.

      So it doesn’t matter what they put in their TOS if the law won’t support it, it’s there to discourage people from pushing, but anyone who knows their rights is going to get their refund.

      • horsemedic says:

        I’m responding to arguments that cite only the TOS, not consumer law. Thus, it’s relevant to point out an important contradictory clause in the same TOS.

        As for the rest: Do you have any evidence that consumer law (I guess U.S. law, in this case) prohibits non-refundable pledges? If that were true, wouldn’t nearly every Kickstarter be illegal? They’re all premised on non-refundable pledges.

        And what “investigations” are you talking about? I know of zero.

  43. mercyRPG says:

    A good number of Star Citizen victims who bought into the Ponzi scheme of the developer should file a group lawsuit, demand a refund to end this abomination and erase it from the face of the world forever.

    • Premium User Badge

      zaphod6502 says:

      It is only a ponzi scheme if people give money with nothing to show for it. The SC project has delivered modules and development has continued on the game. The mountain of material RSI has publicly shown proves this. They don’t have 200+ developers sitting on their asses doing nothing.

      The preachers of negativity here love to focus on RSI and Roberts yet other developers have also continued to take in money for other games with the same development issues and timelines. Why does no one focus on Elite which is missing vast chunks of gameplay or Garriot’s $2,500 virtual property sales in Shroud Of The Avatar (for a game that is barely playable).

      I’ll tell you why and that is because RSI is the biggest, easiest, most successful target out of the bunch of crowd funded games.

      And deliciously every time Derek Smart and his professional agitators at Something Awful arc up about Star Citizen the pledges surge as people give a big FU to all the detractors. The irony of it all is hilarious.

      • Gibs says:

        did Elite or Shroud raise above 100M $? for development alone that’s huge, most of the money used for other games goes to marketing btw, which SC virtually doesnt have or need

        • Premium User Badge

          zaphod6502 says:

          That’s the best part of SC development. Nothing gets wasted on marketing costs and it is fully self-funded.

  44. Gibs says:

    Ohh. I forgot about SC. This train hasn’t crashed yet, it seems, or perhaps it has and everyone is being quiet about it?

  45. DarkLiberator says:

    I’m not really sure though if its accurate to call it a scam. I think development is going to take awhile,longer than anyone expected, doesn’t help when they’re building stuff like this:

    link to youtube.com

    Implementing this carrier, I can’t imagine how they’re going to tackle this.