Derek Smart calls for FTC investigation of Star Citizen’s finances, presents Chris Roberts with list of demands
Game developer Derek Smart continues to be terribly concerned over the future fate of Star Citizen. After an epic-sized rant last week, Smart posted another piece last night, this one restating his immense concern over the development of the space sim, urging people to “wake up and start asking the tough questions.” In the nearly 11,000-word post, he sets out to explain, as he puts it, “why RSI and all subsidiaries need to be investigated – right now!”:
From everything that we have uncovered thus far, it is our belief that the game, Star Citizen, as of this writing, has all the makings of a crowd-funding failure, and an unmitigated disaster. A disaster which, if, and when it happens, and everything eventually comes out, is likely to be the most shocking event in recent gaming memory, which threatens to eclipse even the 38 Studios collapse of 2012.
Smart calls on Chris Roberts to issue a public statement addressing seven “demands” in his post, including providing an itemized list of how all of Star Citizen’s money has been spent thus far and acquiescing to an audit.
As backers of this project, here is our list of demands:
- disclose the full detailed (private jet travel? we want to see it) P&L accounting (money in off-shore bank accounts? we want to know about them) for every crowd-funded dime that has been raised and spent on this project. Allow an independent forensics accountant, hired by backers, to come and do an audit. This is standard practice in developer-publisher relationships. So you know how that works.
- disclose the true state of the project in terms of what is expected to be delivered, and when. Allow an independent Executive Producer, hired by backers, to come and do a project review in order to get an accurate picture of the game state, so we know when it is likely to see the light of day – if ever
- disclose the true timeline for the project’s completion. As per the above.
- setup a page offering refunds to all those who REQUEST it. The TOS is going to be the first thing attacked in any lawsuit. It is not likely to survive a legal challenge. Plus, the FTC will trump all that crap anyway, so there is that.
- admit, in no uncertain terms, and apologize that the scope of the project has changed since the original $2.1m kickstarter crowd-funding campaign
- halt all further crowd-funding activities until a sizable part of the game – as originally pitched in 2012 – has been delivered to backers who have paid for it. In other words, STOP selling virtual items and taking money for vaporware
- address the nepotism issues associated with the hiring of unqualified family members to head key parts of this crowd-funded project. In this regard, explain the benefits of a) promoting your brother to an Executive Producer position, as opposed to hiring someone (like the departed Alex Mayberry) who has the experience to match the job. Also what new benefits (pay raise, shares etc) he now has access to, for going into that position b) hiring someone, allegedly your wife, to a position that she is seemingly not qualified to hold. And why a more experienced executive wasn’t put in this position. Especially since that dept has people, with more experience and qualifications to do the job. Instead, they get to answer to her; and naturally, she gets paid more, as per the position.
He also takes the time to assure readers that he’s writing this for the best of reasons:
A lot of the combatants in this war that’s now in progress, don’t really know who I am, let alone who Chris Roberts is. They know nothing about my industry tenure, my accomplishments, my experience, my credentials etc. They’re looking at it if I were some drama queen looking for attention. This despite the fact that, over the years, I have built, pretty much, a vastly more advanced game, in the same genre that Chris and Co. are apparently having trouble building. And, this year, we’re about to release an even better one, Line Of Defense. Though it won’t look as pretty, it works, it’s here, and it’s not vaporware. This is not an endorsement to buy it.
Further on in the post, he reminds gamers that anyone who signs up for Line of Defense’s closed beta test by this evening is “guaranteed to have a free key to the game’s Starter Kit.”
An addendum notes that RSI has apparently refunded his original Star Citizen pledge.
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.)
Look, I am no longer at CIG, but I recall when Chris and I were working at Origin, Derek Smart sent several negative emails accusing us of stealing his ideas etc, the guy is just not worth the time to read.
He is just trying to get attention – something none of us should ever give him.
IMHO, I think CIG did the right thing here, that guy is just not worth the trouble.