(DISCLAIMER: The materials available in this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.)
In no terms of service can you terminate your basic consumer rights. Although it would be more accurate to call getting a “refund” cancelling your pre-order, when it comes to Star Citizen and Squadron 42. With recent articles about the Terms of Service changes, such as Star Citizen’s refunds process just got more complicated, it’s important that a consumer has the chance to educate themselves on their options, as there appears to be confusion for a clear answer to the Can I get a refund in Star Citizen? question.
I had a poll on Twitter asking what people wanted to see written next in this saga. The winner was “Guide to Refunds”.
The public perception surrounding Star Citizen is certainly a roller-coaster ride. Much of the project’s fanbase is headquartered in either the Star Citizen subreddit, or the forums on Roberts Space Industries’ website. Discussions center around news of the game’s development, which in itself is highly controlled via in-house video series from the game’s developers. Things like Around the Verse (recorded talk show format), Reverse the Verse (livestream with community), and 10 for the Chairman (backer questions answered by Chris Roberts directly), all fall in line with the concept of open development the team uses as a philosophy.
The culmination of these things fostered an environment where asking for refunds wasn’t considered “appropriate,” but more generally where having criticism of Star Citizen as a game was suppressed not only by members of the community but the moderators and staff as well. But with the advent of Derek Smart and Something Awful forums becoming the only place where Star Citizen criticisms could be openly discussed without fear of repercussions, that paradigm shifted. This led to Roberts saying this to Polygon in August 2015:
“If there are cases where people are really upset, or facing personal hardships, on a case by case basis we take a look and we refund,” he said. “We don’t want to keep people around. We don’t want to fight with them.”
Much of the information in this guide is sourced from the Star Citizen discussion threads on Something Awful, if not specified otherwise. Their experiences in trying to acquire refunds made it possible to analyze on a larger scale, in order to determine a successful and repeatable method in order to obtain refunds.
But in order to refund Star Citizen, you need to have bought something in the first place. Duh. This is the hub page for everything you can buy from Star Citizen. In order to fully experience the game, Star Citizen has you buy ships in packages or individual selections that can cost players from $45 up to a whopping $15,000. It’s complicated to tell you what’s out in either the Ship section or Package sections of the site, as it varies wildly. Some of them come with only Star Citizen‘s current “Alpha“, while others promise to grant you access to Squadron 42 the moment it releases. Even further, there are options that include both. But then there’s an entire section for specific ships, physical merchandise, and even a miscellaneous add-on section. At the end of the day, you need to take stock of what you specifically have.
If you’re having second thoughts after backing Star Citizen, here’s a step by step list to guide you in the Refund direction. This is not to intended courage to discourage you from the act of refunding, that is a decision you make for your own reasons. The point of this is to help you with something you independently have chosen to want as a consumer.
STAR CITIZEN, THE FINAL PRODUCT/GAME AS ENVISIONED BY CHRIS ROBERTS IN HIS INITIAL KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN AND SUBSEQUENT FOLLOW-UP STATEMENTS ON IT, IS NOT OFFICIALLY OUT. SQUADRON 42, EVEN LESS SO, CONSIDERING THAT IT’S A SEPARATE PRODUCT. THIS IS THE FOUNDATION AS TO HOW YOU ARE GROUNDS TO A REFUND.
This is the stage where you make the best effort to contact RSI and communicate your refund concerns to them. They will probably deny you a refund initially, but this step is required in order to make further escalation (chargebacks, etc.) go smoothly.
1. Optional: Purge any of your social media accounts of any statements that you think RSI might not agree with. The company has a record of using consumer’s statements made outside of their own website as “ammo” against them. In cases such as Beer4TheBeerGod, these were used against them when dealing with the company. It also might help to go to your billing & subscription page on RSI, set page to display all items, then copy and paste that to a notepad document. Do that for all the items in your hanger. (Basically, save a local copy of all your purchase records independent from their website)
2. Send an e-mail to [email protected]
3. Request a full refund. (Tell them your RSI account, relevant info like that)
4. Explain how recent Star Citizen descriptions don’t match the original description of the game that you pledged for, and that you no longer believe in the project.
5. Go on about lack of progress, CIG’s admission that the scope and nature of the game is changed, and the undefined delivery date.
Note: CIG doesn’t refund gifted purchases. If someone else in the community gave you a ship, a package, or anything like that, there’s no way to get money out of it. Only attempt to get a refund from direct transactions between you and Star Citizen.
After you send them your initial email, then you play the waiting game. Give them a reasonable timeframe to try and respond. If they don’t reply within a few days or so, give it another go. Rinse, repeat.
Emailing them on a regular basis is key. When you get a response like this, you’ll know it’s time to move on to Level 2:
Thank you very much for contacting us.
I am very sorry to hear that you no longer wish to back Star Citizen, however we have reviewed your account status and we regret that we are not able to accommodate your request for a refund since it was received outside of the statutory 14 day period. I understand that this may seem unwelcoming, but unfortunately we are now obligated to send over the following information as protocol:
You made your pledge to the crowdfunding 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. The funds are not idly maintained in a bank account for months or years in case someone wants his/her money back. Cloud Imperium Games has been working diligently on the development of the game and has published extensive information on the development process on its website at robertsspaceindustries.com. We are very serious about accomplishing what we set out to do, which is to build a great game. We endeavor to keep everyone informed and educated on the progress of game development and what is accomplished with their support: reports, updates and web shows have been made available regularly, and our first gameplay offerings came online as early as fall of 2013. These offerings have been progressively and incrementally expanded over time to share access to the work in progress. We have created a substantial foundation for the game, and early release versions are currently available (see further detail below).
As noted above, your payment was a deposit to be used for the “Game Cost” as defined in your crowdfunding pledge agreement (see Sec. 4 of the Commercial Terms, and Sec. IV.A of the subsequent Terms of Service, as applicable, https://robertsspaceindustries.com/tos), and the deposit has since been “earned by CIG and become non-refundable” since it was “used for the Game Cost…” You also agreed to “irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any deposit amount that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost ….” The only exception would be a return of unearned funds remaining in case of an abandonment of the project; this exception does not apply as we have not abandoned development. If you pledged on Kickstarter, you agreed to these terms when you transferred your pledge account to robertsspaceindustries.com.
Terms to this effect have been in the Terms of Service and/or Commercial Terms ever since Star Citizen’s crowdfunding began. They are consistent with the specific nature of crowdfunding and the foreseeable use of your pledge –it would not be appropriate to use 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, the effect would be to pull the rug out from under a team that is working hard to build what the crowd has asked them to build with their pledges.
While quite a lot of the promised gameplay is now available, we acknowledge that delivery of some game elements has been delayed. This is a direct result of the community’s declared desire to have the initial release version of the game developed to a much greater depth, detail, and fidelity than contemplated originally upon start of the campaign. It is inherent to the nature of crowdfunding that such an adjustment to the project may occur. We acknowledge that some individual backers may find the additional wait undesirable. However, as per Sec. VII of the Terms, you did “acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a promise by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time.” Ultimately, this evolution of development will benefit all backers including yourself, since every backer will be receiving a much greater value for his/her pledge, but it may – as in this case – cause an extension of the delivery dates.
Star Citizen is a project for gamers, by gamers. By financing the project using crowd funding, our team is not beholden to a publisher who would insist we ship a game unfinished, de-featured, or broken to meet a particular schedule. Thanks to continued backing of our community, we have the needed creative freedom over the project to push the boundaries of what is possible in gaming technology and to create a unique game with a unique approach. We feel the results such as unparalleled immersion and fidelity which have been highlighted in many reviews and community reactions, are already speaking for themselves!
Please try out, if you haven’t already, the significant gameplay which is now available (see https://robertsspaceindustries.com/feature-list) and we encourage you to download the installer from this url: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/download to patch up and play the latest version of the game.
Again, we regret that we can’t comply with your refund request for the above reasons and sincerely hope you enjoy the updates both current and future in the Star Citizen ‘Verse.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter, and if there is anything else we can assist with please let us know, thanks.
They’ll attempt to use a line called the ’14 days’ grace period, but that applies after the goods are delivered as promised. So for people who bought a package with Squadron 42, for example, that hasn’t been released at all yet. The 14 days grace period would come into play after that game is fully released. It’s about having facts and documentation ready to go. With that in mind, here’s some reference materials you can use in order to defend your refund.
- INNside the ‘Verse Episode 2.01. Jan 11, 2016. Quote from Jared Huckaby, Community Manager. “There isn’t a single aspect of this game that’s finished.” He goes on to describe the state of the game as something that most other companies wouldn’t be comfortable calling Alpha.
- Back in August 2015, Polygon interviewed Chris Roberts on the subject of refunds. At that time, 1269 refunds had already been granted to backers. “We don’t publicize it, but when people reach out to us and talk to us in a rational manner, in most cases we’ve refunded them,” he said. “We don’t want people to be part of the project if they’re not happy.”
- February 5th 2016, Reverse the Verse weekly livestream. Jared Huckaby and Ben Lesnick take a question from the Twitch chat. “Can you name a feature in the PU that is actually finished?,” someone asked. Their answer to that was they were still building the game, so “No, nothing is finished.”
- The original release date window given back during the game’s Kickstarter campaign in October 2012 was November 2014. While Chris Roberts intended to never go to Kickstarter at all, he wanted to give people a chance to crowdfund in some capacity while he worked out his website’s own networking problems at the time. “The purpose of the higher stretch goals is to ensure that the game-as-described is finished in the two year time period,” the website’s FAQ said.
- Refer to any of the numerous examples of refunds being granted outside the 14 day period.
If CIG goes with the response claiming that your money was a donation? Ask them why they were charging VAT taxes for UK transactions. This was brought to the public’s attention after Star Citizen gift cards were sold at a higher price than their listed card value. PCGamesN was able to get a response from their staff on that:
“Euro laws mandate that VAT is included in the price. If Phil had his monitor turned on to US$ currency, then it will show up just as he depicted in his screen capture (assuming he had UK listed as his country). In the US, you aren’t mandated to include sales tax in the selling price, but you can bet that when you get to check-out, that tax will be added (depending on the state where you are purchasing).”
An important thing to note here, as the argument between you and Customer Service begins to heat up – they aren’t in a position to explain legal rights to you. Period. They don’t want to give you your money back, and they’ll try and steer you away from that course by presenting their own definition of reality.
The product can’t be delivered as promised because the project’s game, scope, and timelines have all changed since it began. The primary example of their admission of this is within the terms of service on the website. Compare the August 29th 2013 TOS having a 12 Month window to the February 1st 2015 TOS having a 18 month window for “after the estimated delivery date,” and that speaks volumes on it’s own. People who are looking for refunds might’ve not agreed to that change in the project’s size.
But on top of that, Chris Roberts admitted that the project’s size increased all on his own. “Is Star Citizen today a bigger goal than I imagined in 2012? Absolutely. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not: it’s the whole damn point. Will it take longer to deliver all this? Of course! When the scope changes, the amount of time it will take to deliver all the features naturally increases,” Roberts wrote in a website post.
The focus of the Refund journey is focus on what the project looks like, right now. Their goal is to try and intimidate you into submission. By whipping out a fat stack of paragraphs that look big and scary, they’ve opened themselves up to Level 2, the chargeback.
As stated earlier, it’s important that you go through Level 1’s steps first. This provides necessary documentation that you can give your bank to refer to during the chargeback process. What is a chargeback, you might ask? The definition of it is “a demand by a credit-card provider for a retailer to make good the loss on a fraudulent or disputed transaction,” according to Google.
Do not be afraid to start the chargeback process. No matter what anyone else says otherwise, you have a justifiable reason to do this. You won’t get in any trouble, your banking future won’t go into jeopardy. Remember these two very important things. When you buy something, it’s under the impression that there’s an agreed time of delivery, and an agreed product.
To start the chargeback process (infographic above is courtesy of Chargebacks911), you need to head on over to the relevant credit card company used for whatever your purchases were. You tell them the product has not been delivered, or the defined product you had received was not what was sold, and work from there. Keep the earlier examples given in Level 1 in mind. At least in the United States, the major credit card companies are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
The rules for chargebacks are designed to make sure Merchants obey the rules of transactions very closely. What it boils down is a presentation of evidence, with the rules being enforced by subjective people at the end of the day. But that subjectivity tends to fall on behalf of the consumer, with the merchants being seen as guilty before innocent. Seeking help from your individual bank is a direction to take here. If it’s something you’re willing to do in person, heading to your local branch gives you the benefit of a face-to-face conversation with somebody.
However, the internet has made several other payment provider options a possibility to take into consideration. They may play a factor in the chargeback process.
- The buyer requests a chargeback from their credit card company.
- The credit card company notifies our merchant bank and withdraws the funds from PayPal.
- We places a hold on your (the seller’s) funds related to the chargeback.
- We immediately notify you via email and request information that could help to dispute the chargeback.
Some of the most noteworthy are listed below.
Amazon: The website has it’s own system in place that’s involved with the chargeback process. They say completion from start to finish can take up to 90 days. They’ll request certain specific information from you, which is then provided to an investigator who then contacts the bank.
Paypal: One of the most common forms of online payment providers. They updated their policies to remove eligibility for Purchase Protection on crowdfunding platforms. But since RSI is an entity for one single project (itself), these new amendments don’t apply.
Stripe: With this system, there’s it’s own set of rules and procedures for disputes, so look into it accordingly. It looks like there’s a $15 fee imposed on RSI, but if the dispute ends up in their favor they get that cash back. This certainly might have some impact on how hard the refund is contested in that case.
If Level 2 didn’t work out for you, there’s still the final option of filing a complaint to either the FTC, State Attorney General’s office, or the State BBB. Similar escalations may apply in the other countries section listed later on here. While it may seem like another seemingly scary situation, you still have nothing to fear. These government institutions are in place to help consumers with situations exactly like this Star Citizen one. As someone with concerns, the government is able to compel RSI into responding to your complaint.
Let’s go back once more to that Polygon article that was initially presented in the introduction:
Allen contacted Cloud Imperium’s customer support service via an email that outlined his grievances. “I felt they had been dishonest and that the game was going downhill,” he said. After a series of emails, he was denied a refund. The customer service rep said his pledges were too old to be refunded. Official refunds are only available to people who buy the game and are dissatisfied within 14-days.
Allen was a vocal critic of the game on Star Citizen‘s forums and on its sub-Reddit. He says he’s clashed with other backers in online arguments. He also contacted the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau to make a complaint. A few days later he received a direct email from Cloud Imperium, promising to take care of his refund application. It was sorted out in a matter of days.
“It was like night and day,” said Allen. “I don’t know why they changed their minds and I’m not going to question it. After that email, they gave me the best customer service experience I’ve ever had in gaming. They really went 110 percent to get me my money back.”
That was all the way back in August 2015. But as recent as June/July 2016 there’s an example of this working to some degree.
For the sake of readability, here’s their response in full.
As indicated in our previous reply, we have reviewed his previous history and communications with our Customer Service department and have determined that it is also in our interest to remove him from our community. We have refunded the Customer’s money and closed his account; if the Customer were to review his records he should see that the amount has been remitted, Customer had only to allow a reasonable amount of time to process the request before following up on this complaint.
We would like to clarify two remaining points. Firstly, despite what Customer further alleges in his complaint, we have in fact preserved, not changed, the terms that applied to his pledge at the time that he made it. In Section VII of our current Terms of Service, it states for the sake of clarity, “Pledges made under previous Terms of Services continue to be governed by the corresponding clause of the Terms of Services, or of the Commercial Terms, as applicable, which were in effect at the time of making the Pledge”. Customer’s claim that RSI has changed anything about the terms that govern the money he pledged and committed well over a year ago, and now seeks to retract, are incorrect and unfounded. Secondly, we are proud of our forums and community and the efforts we take to administrate them in a fair and civil manner. We do not agree that a forum or community is a “toxic hotbed” simply because other members of our community do not agree with Customer’s opinions. Any visitor to our forums and community can see for themselves that constructive criticism and debate are permitted and not quashed or censored, as we recognize that our backers may have differences of opinion and they are welcome to discuss these among themselves as long as they respect our community standards of civility. Our community policies merely require that our backers treat one another and the company with a modicum of respect.
So they’ll slam you as a customer, but at least you get your money back.
But the results of Level 3 were best tested in the Streetroller case. The entire story is worth a read in order to fully understand, but the basic idea followed the steps outlined in this piece. He was a Star Citizen backer in for about $3000 (this reported amount varies from anywhere beyond $2500 to $3000), and he attempted to start the refund process back in mid June 2016. He’s a quadriplegic, which means he’s bound to playing games with high levels of customization in order to accommodate his own situation. He hadn’t accepted any terms of service changes up to that point, as he had not exactly been in a position to play the game. As seen in the letter above, his situation had escalated to the point where contacting the Public Inquiry Unit of the Office of the Attorney General had given him results.
According to a statement made to Polygon, Star Citizen‘s PR guy said:
“refunds with respect to Star Citizen are made on a discretionary basis. There was nothing special about this situation. The fact that this particular party used a complaint form that is online and openly available, doesn’t make this any different.”
Which means you as the consumer have absolutely nothing to lose, by simply giving this whole refund process a shot.
For UK people who bought in before October 2015, your rights are protected under the Supply of Goods and Services Act. This requires that a service be completed within a reasonable time, in addition to a completion date being provided. As it applies to the Star Citizen project, release dates were brought into question during CitizenCon 2015. A Polygon article released at the time describes what happened fairly clearly.
“I don’t want to give you dates,” Roberts said while standing on a stage erected beneath a retired Concorde supersonic jetliner at the Manchester Airport. “Everyone gives me shit for giving you dates, but let me say it’s in the near future.
“We’re not very far away from being content and functionality complete,” he said. “That will be in the near future, by which I mean inside… soon.”
But if you had bought into the Star Citizen project after October 2015, your right are protected via the Consumer Rights Act Part 1, Chapter 3. These rights are further detailed here, in addition to this piece. If you bought in before October 2015, BUT you accepted the most recent RSI terms of service, that might count as a separate and new contract.
A list of regulations and laws that may or may not be relevant: Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (information, cancellation and additional charges), Sale of Goods Act 1979 (goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose), Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (misleading actions), Misrepresentation Act 1967, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, Consumer protection act 1987 (part 1), Contracts Act 1999 (rights of third parties)
This gets it’s own separate section, in reflection of recent events in politics. In general as a citizen of the EU, the 14 day period for refunds doesn’t apply until the last item of the final product is delivered. Since June 2014, EU Directive 2011/83/EU came into force which gives anyone the right to a full refund up to 14 days after delivery of the last item in an order without having to give a reason, so in this example as SQ42 has not as yet been delivered, everyone in the EU is entitled to a full refund. The 2011 EU Directive on Consumer Rights (PDF) comes into play here. (That earlier link has instructions walking you through on how to carry out this whole process)
Obligations of the trader in the event of withdrawal: The trader shall reimburse all payments received from the consumer, including, if applicable, the costs of delivery without undue delay and in any event not later than 14 days from the day on which he is informed of the consumer’s decision to withdraw from the contract in accordance with Article 11. The trader shall carry out the reimbursement referred to in the first subparagraph using the same means of payment as the consumer used for the initial transaction, unless the consumer has expressly agreed otherwise and provided that the consumer does not incur any fees as a result of such reimbursement.
Basically all you need to do is send a registered letter to the authorities before any court action, in order to get a refund. They don’t have any choice but to comply unless they want to go to small claims and battle it out there.
Even in the land down under, Star Citizen has a market for their project. CIG sells physical and digital merchandise there, and even drew the market in with the promise of having an Australian server (as seen in the $25 million stretch goal). While it may seem like a bit rudimentary for people in the United States and Europe, the ability to have a server in Australia was a big deal for them considering their often limited internet connections.
Whenever a company sells a product and it is not fit for purpose then Australian backers are able to get a cash refund, according to the guides of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The Government group had previously brought Valve to court for misleading representations for their consumer guarantees, basically establishing a precedent that Star Citizen refund requests are compelled to abide by.
“The Federal Court’s decision reinforces that foreign based businesses selling goods and/or services to Australian consumers can be subject to Australian Consumer Law obligations, including the consumer guarantees,” Chairman Rod Sims said. “This is also the first time Courts have applied the extended definition of ‘goods’ to include “computer software” in the ACL. It will provide greater certainty where digital goods are supplied to consumers through online platforms,” he continued.
So despite the fact that Star Citizen‘s developers may not be based in Australia, due to the fact that business is conducted there in some form they are bound to the rules of the Australia market.
According to the ACCC’s Refunds Guidelines (PDF):
For example, signs that state ‘no refunds’ or ‘no refund on sale items’, could lead consumers to believe they have no right to a refund under any circumstances, which is untrue because if a statutory condition has been breached, the consumer may be entitled to a refund.
Policies that set a time limit, such as ‘no refunds after 30 days’, can be misleading because statutory rights have no time limits, other than what is ‘reasonable’.
Similarly, insisting consumers return goods unopened, or in their original packaging may be misleading (as these are not required to claim a
remedy under statutory rights)
So any Australian backers of Star Citizen basically luck out here, as they’ve got both very clear rules about refunds, in addition to relevant legal precedent.
The Patient Zero of Refunds. When he first came out with his criticisms of the Star Citizen project in 2015, the motion by RSI to give Derek his money back without his own consent was a big first. Ben Lesnick took to the RSI website forums in order to formally address the matter.
I believe I can clarify this. We refunded Mr. Smart’s package because he was using Star Citizen as a platform to gain attention as part of a campaign to promote his ‘Line of Defense’ space game. Our ToS (or in this case, the Kickstarter ToS) allows us to refund troubled users who we would rather not have interacting with the community. The process lets us entirely disable their accounts, preventing them from playing the finished game. Think of it as the video game equivalent of a ‘we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone’ sign in a restaurant. We’ve used this ability a limited number of times in the past, always with the aim of improving the community (until today, the most famous example being our old friend jcrg99/Manzes/PonyMillar/he of many other alts.)
I do now want to stress that that is not to say you can get your money back by simply being as obnoxious as possible; we’re also able to ban accounts from the forums without requiring a refund. But sometimes we take a look at a user and decide that they’re so toxic or their intentions are so sinister that we simply don’t want them associated with Star Citizen.
As for refund requests working the other way: per the ToS, we’re not required to offer them. We do try and work with backers who are facing hardships, but the hard truth is that the money is by necessity being spent to develop a game rather than sitting unused somewhere (that being the significant difference with Steam; those refunds are taken out of their games’ profits rather than their development budgets.)
This example was picked up across multiple places in the media. PC Gamer, MCV, and Game Rant all covered the controversy as it unfolded. Derek Smart took his criticism to the public, and had the spotlight thrust on him. That combination together is what created the era of open refunds to begin for Star Citizen.
One of the biggest refunds known to man. As someone who actually invested in the company itself rather than crowdfunding the game, the act of pulling his dollars out of the Star Citizen project was a big deal. He signed up to Something Awful right at the end of Star Citizens crowdfunding campaign, November 13 2012. His whole story is actually worth some sort of biography in it’s own right, but one of the main things with Bootcha and Something Awful was the fact he could tell the forums Behind the Scenes stuff. It strengthened the bond between “Goons” and the game, back when there was still a dominant enthusiastic interest in it.
On one hand, fuck Derek Smart. If he’s going to raise hell to get his $250 worth, then fuck it he can have it back. If Derek is going to endanger my investment, then he can go play in traffic.
On the other, I feel a backer has every right to demand what the fuck is happening with the money they gave without fear of being cut off for being a critical dissenting voice. The nature of crowd-funding is every customer is served with a semblance of dignity and tact, and the act of mitigating concerns with refunds is questionable PR practice left for “no other option” scenarios. My investment and the promise/gamble of a better return does not overshadow or blind any concerns about ongoing development.
For proof that he exists, he once posted a group photo with himself and many of the game’s initial key investors and staff.
Despite the fact that Bootcha was one of the most heavily invested Star Citizen players of them all, even he reached a point where he felt no longer comfortable with the direction the game was taking.
No, I have no creative control over the production, as per the contract. That is to say I can talk to him about features and shit, give him free ideas, but that holds about as much weight in water as the next regular pledger, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my ideas for space sim games are just as terrible as the next spergy superfan. That said, CR’s probably more willing to give me the time of day than the average pledger based on the rapport we’ve had from early on up to now. I plan on hopping down to LA later this year to see Ortwin (the business side CEO of CIG) to see what’s happening, as I’ll get a straighter answer from him in terms of where the money’s going than CR. Of course his job is to keep the investors happy too, so there’s that. Unlike regular spoors who visit the office, I’ll have an actual reason to walk in with a suit. Not that I’ll scare CR to his senses with that, as I’m a small piece of a very vast capital lake.
By October 2015, he had heightened concerns as to the state of Star Citizen as a project.
It’s not so much deliver what was promised, that’s not an issue for me. The question is will SQ42 get out the door before its strangled to death by micromanagement, has enough substantial content to warrant new purchases, and doesn’t get completely panned by critics out of spite or for actual shortcomings. Because every new sale of SQ42 after taxes is pure company profit, not “additional capital” like from pledges, and I’m entitled to a slice of that profit.
After CitizenCon 2015, he had embarked on a fuller investigation independently in order to get some straight answers about his investment’s future. This climaxed on November 18th, when he made a public statement that made it clear he cut all financial obligations with Cloud Imperium Games and Chris Roberts.
I, under the name “Bootcha”, an investor with Cloud Imperium Games from Nov 13, 2012 till today, have decided to part ways with Cloud Imperium Games. As such, my investment has been returned to me, as is, with no accumulated interest. I no longer have any remaining business, legal interest, or influential bearing with Cloud Imperium Games and their ongoing business operations, and they have no further obligations towards me.
My opinions have been public, honest, and within the terms of my NDA. I enjoyed helping Star Citizen however I could, and was blessed to meet and befriend so many passionate artists, engineers, and designers. However, this project no longer has need of me, nor I of it.
I would like to thank fuzzknot for giving me the kick in the ass to get this exit ball rolling, Mr. Smart for being frank and open with me, many past and present CIG employees for talking to me, Ben Lesnick for giving me this opportunity in the first place, Imp Zone for shaking some sense into me, and the Goons as a whole for ruining everything.
He’s worth mentioning when it comes to refunds because it goes to show that people’s perceptions on Star Citizen had limitations even at the very top of the ladder. With all those connections and resources, even a top level investor like Bootcha was in a position where he had questions. In turn, that means it’s perfectly reasonable for the Star Citizen public backers to have their doubts and uncertainties about the title.
The tale of Br0wnH0rn3t happened at the beginning of June 2016. He was a long-time backer of Star Citizen, fully utilizing the Zendesk help system in order to give suggestions and requests, as well as arrange refunds for himself. His post in the Star Citizen Trade subreddit uncovered a controversial labeling system that CIG uses for Customer Support requests. Words like “High Maintenance”, “Goon”, and “Snowflake” were used to describe customers in the system. When news of this began to spread publicly, RSI quickly took down the Star Citizen Zendesk support page for maintenance. You’re thinking this story sounds too good to be true, but other users like this guy and this other fellow were able to verify the labeling system in itself existed to some capacity.
If you read some of Br0wnH0rn3t’s reactions and comments following his initial reveal, you find a once loyal backer of the game who feels like a line was crossed. Some people went as far as to attack him by claiming he faked the screenshots, despite the confirmation given by other witnesses of the spectacle. His situation is also known for spotlighting on how refunds are possible for Star Citizen‘s Australia backers.
Video evidence of the occurrence still exists on YouTube.