Star Citizen's 10-Year Development History

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The Beginning

Star Citizen promised its backers the stars and beyond when its Kickstarter launched in October 2012. The game had a shining vision of how players could navigate the vast universe, with mechanics that (at the time) did not exist yet. The game raked in an impressive $6.2 mil (USD) from initial crowdfunding and has gone on to collect an even more stunning sum of $500 mil (USD) at its 10-year mark of being developed.

So how has a game a decade deep into active development not seen the light of day? You can read about Star Universe's turbulent history and what may lie in store for its future below.

Delays, Scandals, and Controversy

Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) has an extensive history of lawsuits, questionable behavior, and miscommunication with supporters. While an Alpha for the game exists and has had some development updates (with modular drops happening since 2014), it is nowhere close to being published in completion. The Alpha updates have been disjointed, and while updates to the Persistent Universe gameplay mode have been somewhat consistent, fans have complained about murky communication and unclear roadmaps. In response to fan frustrations, Cloud Imperium Games made an official statement in February 2022 that not-so-subtly blamed "a very loud contingent of roadmap watchers" for distracting developers and forcing shifted deliverables. This was followed by the team dropping some tentative game features and parsing their development roadmap.

Lacking communication seems to also be an internal problem of CIG as well, and it's not just players who have been left in the lurch. One of the latest public issues between CIG and its global network of developers occurred during last year's Texas winter storm that saw over 200 people die. CIG reportedly told its Texas-based developers to try and continue to work and make it into their offices or to use their own PTO to cover their inability to work during a natural disaster. (The reports were made anonymously by multiple developers working for CIG, and these reports were disputed by CIG officials. Take that as you will.)

Squadron 42 was initially slated to be a playable campaign within the larger game of Star Citizen. Roadmap changes and development have seen this star-studded space adventure scheduled as an independent game, though it will still exist as part of the game's canon and the universe. (The main cast includes actors like Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, and Gillian Anderson.) Despite this shift (and the fact that Squadron 42 has existed for nearly as long as Star Citizen has), Squadron 42 missed both its projected publication dates (first in 2016 and again in 2020) and has since kept quiet with no updated publication date in sight. 

Star Citizen has continued to make money by selling ships and cosmetics that, like most of the game, are still in development and will be unusable for an unseen time. CIG has also had some generous private investors that refreshed the internal coffers. Supporters began flaking away support in 2015, and many have sought out refunds-- and while initial requests were quickly refunded, delays for later requests have continued to this day. In 2016 CIG updated its legalese regarding refund eligibility, and the company has since faced multiple court claims from supporters seeking their money back. The USA FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has received 100+ complaints regarding CIG (as of early 2019.)

Where it stands now

Many doubt Star Citizen will ever get published, least of all in the glorious form that was initially promised. The game has been riddled with bad PR-- still, the amount their company has been able to fundraise is impressive. There are still stalwart backers out there that believe in CIG's vision of what it can achieve, though I am curious to see how much Star Citizen will differ from games like No Man's Sky which boasts an impressive, large-scale explorable universe. 

For reference regarding Star Universe's timeline, here are some noteworthy games that were released in 2014, its original anticipated release year:

  • Destiny
  • Dark Souls II
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Star Citizen's recent news cycle has brought up the topic of Early Access games, with hot takes and heated debates on both sides of the fence. While Star Citizen is an exceptional case, there are plenty who scorn Early Access as a commonplace practice in game publications today. 

What are your thoughts on Star Citizen? More importantly, what are your thoughts on games publishing in Early Access well before they're officially done? Let me know in the comments below!

Replies • 65



Planetary

There are two main issues on Star Citizen:

1. CIG have already the money, they don't have to rush development and they can continue to sell concept ships to make some cash

2. CIG promised too much and are working on too much stuff. Look at Elite Dangerous development and you'll know what I mean

 




I don't know where this will end, but is a case it may end has a case for study maybe as a failure or maybe as a success. 

I hope for all the investors and people who still believe in the game get what they have wanted and waited for so many years. 



Galactic
Wiol said: 2d

There are two main issues on Star Citizen:

1. CIG have already the money, they don't have to rush development and they can continue to sell concept ships to make some cash

2. CIG promised too much and are working on too much stuff. Look at Elite Dangerous development and you'll know what I mean

 

I don't think #1 is a real issue. Just a made up thing people complain about. The game gets tons of new content at a fair pace. They're actually working.

You are mostly right on #2, but the biggest problem is that Chris Roberts is a guy who always says "but what if we..." and then he adds 6 new ideas. The stuff he wants to do would be awesome, but his ambition outpaces the ability to get it down. If his team were 10x bigger than it is then maybe they could do everything he wanted. But the game would be 6 TB in size and have so many features in it players would be overwhelmed by what to do and it would drive a lot of people away.

But as the game is right this moment? I think it's worth the $45. You get everything you need to get started and most things are earnable in-game with enough effort. And I'm not talking 18 months of endless grind, either. A month or two of focused effort and you can get a higher end ship. Even all those fancy, expensive ships. All but the most absurd capital ships are realistically obtainable by a single person with enough effort. You can earn what just about any one of them if you really wanted. Plus, and you'll have to trust me on this unless you've played it yourself, everything you do in the game feels absolutely epic. There's this sense of grandeur about everything that makes you feel like you're really living in a scifi future.

Now, is that worth it to you personally? Dunno. Maybe. Maybe not. But for $45 I'd say it's a good enough deal to ignore the hate train circle-jerk and just try it yourself. I'm not saying it's a Cyberpunk 2077 Cinderella story where it's actually one of the best games ever despite the hate. It deserves a lot of the criticism. But the hate train is, as usualy, a bunch of rage babies who never even played the damn thing.