Star Citizen Alpha 3.3 Patch Comes in October; CEO Addresses Pay-to-Win Concerns

Cloud Imperium Games CEO addresses pay-to-win concerns.

Cloud Imperium Games’ massive online space multiplayer title, Star Citizen, received an United Earth Credits, or UEC for short, wallet cap in the Alpha 3.2 update. Chris Roberts, founder of the studio, released a lengthy “Letter from the Chairman” detailing  the changes coming with Alpha 3.3 update.

Alpha 3.3 is coming later this year, in October, coinciding with the game’s special convention, CitizenCon. In addition to that, Roberts announced  the studio decided to reschedule the game’s patch release schedule, Q1 will be towards the end of March, Q2 at the end of June, Q3 in October, alongside CitizenCon, and finally Q4 more towards the second half of December. According to Roberts, this will give more time for the development to make sure everything is working and the community to have time to get used to new updates. Finally, he addressed fans concerns towards pay-to-win mechanics. He discussed the UEC wallet cap introduced with the previous update. He clarified that it was done to “help smooth over the transition to an in-game economy.”

UEC

Recently a few people have voiced their concerns about the removal of the player UEC wallet cap that came with the release of Star Citizen Alpha 3.2. This was done to help smooth over the transition to an in-game economy and to give people that had purchased game items through the now-defunct Voyager Direct web store the ability to ‘melt’ them back for UEC, so they can repurchase new items in-game. As we are going to be rebalancing the pricing and economy as we expand the game, and as we currently reset everyone’s accounts when we release a new patch, we felt it would be unfair to force people to keep items they may have bought at a radically different price. This would have happened if we’d kept the overall hard cap on UEC as many players had amassed a lot more than 150,000 UEC worth of items. We still limit the maximum purchasing to 25,000 UEC a day, but we felt that removing the cap was the right call, especially as with every persistent database reset we need to refund players the UEC they have purchased with money and used to buy in-game items. It’s one thing to lose an item due to gameplay, but it’s a complete other thing to have your game account forcibly reset with each new patch, losing all the items you paid actual money for.

Putting aside the puzzle of why some people don’t have a problem with stockpiling ships or items but a player having more than 150,000 UEC is game breaking, I think it may be useful to revisit Star Citizen’s economic model.

Developing and operating a game of Star Citizen’s ambition is expensive. From day one of the campaign we’ve been quite clear on the economic model for Star Citizen, which is to not require a subscription like many MMOs, but instead rely on sales of initial game packages and in-game money to fund development and online running costs. To ensure money isn’t a deciding factor in progression, the core principle that the game follows is that everything you can obtain with real money, outside of your initial game package, can also be earned in game via normal and fun gameplay. There will also be plenty of things that can only be earned by playing.

Star Citizen is definitely a Kickstarter success story, officially raising more money than all Kickstarter-funded games combined.

[Source: Cloud Imperium Games]