Star Citizen has become known for many things: its expansive, discoverable universe; its mixing of multiple game genres; and its record-setting crowdfunding. With so much going well, it was really only a matter of time before Star Citizen, and its developer Cloud Imperium Games, found themselves in the middle of a controversy.
That controversy has now surfaced, and is the result of a letter CIG (via Robert Space Industries, a CIG subsidiary and the name of the in-game spaceship quantum drive creator) sent to one of its many backers. But this wasn’t just any letter, and it wasn’t just any backer. As shown below, CIG’s letter was sent to inform the backer, in very stern language, that his contribution to the Star Citizen Kickstarter has been refunded, and he no longer has any agreement with the company.
The backer? Derek Smart, the founder of development company 3000AD. The reason for the refund? According to Star Citizen‘s developer, Smart was using his contribution to the game as a way to increase support for his own games, both past and present. Here’s what CIG said in a statement:
“It was obvious he was not a supporter of our project and was just using our visibility as a platform to gain attention and promote his current game and his past games. We have strict rules about people using our forums and chat for self-promotion and it was clear that he didn’t care about the project, or the backers, or a good game being made. He was just trying to create a huge fuss to make himself relevant at a lot of other people’s expense and distress. So we enacted our rights through Kickstarter (that we also have on our own TOS) and refunded him and turned his account off.”
That’s a big assertion, and one that Smart didn’t take lightly. In fact, Smart tweeted that this may be about far more than just CIG trying to keep Smart from promoting his games. Instead, Smart states that CIG may be looking to refund all $2.1 million in Kickstarter backers to get out of their agreement with the backers. As Smart puts it, all those backers would be “screwed” unless they sue or the FTC decides to step in.
Refunding every backer would hardly affect Star Citizen’s opportunities, as that $2 million is just a drop in the bucket of the game’s $85 million total budget. But despite the massive fortune the developer has to spend on the game, it’s still deep in development, with virtually no end in sight, leaving some backers to wonder if obtaining a refund would be the best way to go.
Smart also took the opportunity to defend himself against CIG’s accusations, stating he has never used his position as a backer to promote himself or his games. Instead, he says, CIG recognizes Smart is a threat when it comes to pointing out and doing something about the pitfalls of CIG’s business practices, and for that he needed to be removed.
“They want me not as a backer, as that weakens any legal action that I initiate or become a part of, since I’m the only person on the planet capable of completely destroying their dev nonsense with regard to the game. In other words, I’m voted most likely to cause trouble.”
It’s important to note that Smart isn’t the only one who has wondered about the future of Star Citizen and the many promises from the game’s creator, Chris Roberts. Many backers and gamers have voiced their concerns over the numerous delays, as well as the departure of a couple high-ranking executives from the developer. It will be interesting to see how public and backer opinion continues to sway over time, and if CIG is able to start fulfilling on commitments to backers.
What do you think about Cloud Imperium Game’s message to Derek Smart? How will this affect Star Citizen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.