Make My MMO: Star Citizen would make for a terrible scam (September 16, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts gave an interview that seemed to express understandable frustration with the constant barrage of demands for alpha launch estimates, scam accusations, and “fan trolling” he encounters.

“I am fed up of giving someone an estimate – I’d rather say, here’s the data I have, here’s the schedule I see,” he told Eurogamer, arguing that CIG is already providing progress reports for the massive crowdfunded MMO. “There’s a subset of people who say ‘this thing is never going to come out, it’s a scam’. Which is plainly not true. It would be the worst scam in the world. We’re hiring all these people, we’re working really hard. We’re showing what we’re doing every week.”

Meanwhile, we wrapped up our tour of Shroud of the Avatar, Elite Dangerous announced its September 26th update, we chatted with Ashes of Creation at PAX, Kickstarter began welcoming Japanese creators, Albion Online kicked off playtests for its arena mode, AdventureQuest 3D is going all out for Talk Like A Pirate Day, and Dogma: Eternal Night continued hammering out its combat system (thanks, DDOCentral!).

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

Elite Dangerous

Recent MMO crowdfunding news

Shroud of the Avatar

Campaigns and crowdfunded MMOs we’re watching

3001SQ (Société des Mondes Virtuels) – Kickstarter unsuccessful. Work continues.
AdventureQuest 3D (Artix Entertainment) – Raised 368k; beta began Oct 2016.
Albion Online (Sandbox) – Launched July 2017.
Antraxx (Team Antraxx) – Kickstarter canceled.
Ascent: The Space Game (Fluffy Kitten Studios) – Successful KS. Fully launched 2016.
Ashes of Creation (Intrepid Studios) – Successful KS.
Broke Protocol (Cylinder) – Unsuccessful KS. In free early access.
Camelot Unchained
(City State) – Kickstarter successful; open donations/packages.
Caribbean Conquest (Invenio) – First KS canceled, second ended unsuccessfully.
Contested Space (Zon)
Crowfall (ArtCraft) – Kickstarter win, open packages, Indiegogo crowdfunding ongoing.
Chronicles of Elyria (Soulbound) – Kickstarter successful, open packages.
Citadel of Sorcery (MMO Magic, Inc.) – Open donations.
City of Titans (Missing Worlds Media) – Successful KS; launch planned for fall 2018.
Descent Underground (Descendent Studios) – Successful KS.
Divergence Online (Stained Glass Llama) – Three campaigns; now in KS early access.
Dogma: Eternal Night
(Prelude Games Factory): Kickstarter overdonor preorder packs.
Dragon of Legends (Thrive Games) – Successful Kickstarter.
Dual Universe (Novaquark) – Kickstarter funded, now has donor platform. Alpha delayed.
Eco (Strange Loop Games) – Funded, now in alpha.
Edengrad (Huckleberry Games) – Kickstarter funded; in early access.
Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments) – Funded and launched.
Empyrion Online (Eleon) – Kickstarter canceled; launched on Steam early access.
Epic Space (EpicSpace.net)
Ever, Jane (3 Turn Productions) – Now in open beta.
Global Adventures (SubaGames) – Kickstarter funded.
Gloria Victis (Black Eye Games) – Open donations, no end date; in early access.
Greed Monger (Greed Monger) – Abandoned, multiple times now.
Grim Dawn (Crate Entertainment) – Funded and launched.
Guns of Icarus (Muse) – Funded and launched.
Hero’s Song (Pixelmage) – KS canceled; Indiegogo. Canceled w/ refunds.
Infinity: Battlescape (I-Novae Studios)
HEX (HEX Entertainment) – Funded and launched.
Legends of Aria (Citadel Studios) – Kickstarted as Shards Online. Currently in alpha.
Life is Feudal (Bitbox): Indiegogo ended. Currently in beta.
LUX (Chimera) – Kickstarter canceled.
Maestros of the Anthymn (String Theory) – Kickstarter canceled.
Mekria (Infinity Online Studios) – Kickstarter canceled.
Midair (Archetype Studios) – Kickstarter successful.
Nebula Online (Mizar Games) Kickstarter canceled; launched in November.
Neo’s Land (NeoJac Entertainment) – Open donations, no end date.
Novus AEterno (Taitale Studios)
OrbusVR (Ad Alternum) – KS funded March 2017.
Overpower (Hydrant Games) – Kickstarter unfunded; heading to early access.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen (Visionary Realms) – Open donations, no end date.
Pathfinder Online (GoblinWorks) – Doom, mostly.
Planet Nomads (Craneballs) – Kickstarted, early access launched sans multiplayer.
Pixel Starships (SavySoda)
Project Gorgon (Elder Game) – Kickstarted in three tries + Indiegogo. In alpha.
Pumpkin Online (Monique) – Downgrading from MMORPG.
The Exiled (Fairytale Distillery) – fka Das Tal; 2015 KS unsuccesful. In Steam early access.
The Realm: Reawakened (Stephen Nichols) – Ongoing GoFundMe.
The Repopulation (Idea Fabrik) – Kickstarted twice by A&B. Back in alpha
ROKH (Darewise) – Kickstarter canceled; now in early access.
RUiN (Tarhead Studio) – Kickstarter successful.
The Stomping Land (Alex Fundora) – Abandoned.
Sacrament (Ferocity Unbound) – Kickstarter failed; Patreon ongoing.
Shadow’s Kiss (Clockwork Throne) – Ongoing Patreon.
Shroud of the Avatar (Portalarium) – Successful KS. Soft launch July 2016.
Star Citizen (Cloud Imperium) – Ongoing donations/packages.
TUG (Nerd Kingdom) – In middle of year-long revamp after funding surge.
Vigor Roads (NeuronHaze) – Kickstarter unsuccessful; early access planned for 2017.

Wild West Online

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135 Comments on "Make My MMO: Star Citizen would make for a terrible scam (September 16, 2017)"

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Ket Viliano

I take it that you don’t read mmo rpg dot com
:P

I post here because most people are polite and thoughtful.
:P

Estranged
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Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

Depends on what you call a scam.

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Roger Melly

I know we are all talking about Star Citizen but I thought the Wild West Online gameplay video looked kind of nice .

Reader
Roger Melly

I don’t think Roberts started this project with the intention of scamming anyone and he himself probably was surprised at the level of interest and investment in it .

The problem is I think it went to his head a bit and he started getting over ambitious with stretch goals and now he is in a mess and I think from his recent comments he could be nearing breaking point .

I would not be at all surprised if he has to either step down or step back on the grounds of health eventually .

He is under a hell of a lot of pressure because even if he didn’t intend this to be a scam but if things to go awry and because of the amount of money involved he is going to be in a lot of trouble .

My view of the man is he very creative and a dreamer . That is cool but it doesn’t always make for a good leader .

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Ket Viliano

Forget it :P

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A Dad Supreme

“There’s a subset of people who say ‘this thing is never going to come out, it’s a scam’. Which is plainly not true. It would be the worst scam in the world. ”
===========
Au contraire mon frère… this would be the BEST scam ever in the world ever invented, even better than selling timeshares.

You would have raised almost two hundred million dollars by selling people imaginary ships and $10,000 lounge access subscriptions for a game they would barely consider playable if you didn’t finish it.

This would be all the best of Bernie Madoff’s scheme but you actually would be free from prosecution because you “tried” to deliver the game.

Does Roberts realize just how many people would try to bottle that formula if he failed to finish this game and got away with that?

Reader
Utakata

You know you indicated me once back in Massively-that-was never to make such assumptions unless I have the evidence enough to bring it to the SEC. I think I was referring to some MMO outfit of “cooking their books”. You beat my brows and pigtails saying that’s something I should not be so lightly throwing around. I agreed to that, and I was over stepping my bounds.

So assuming you are quite serious about this claim, you are preparing to march the necessary paperwork into the SEC’s front office (or what ever public entity is responsible for dealing with this). Or perhaps maybe you should take your own advice. Just saying. :(

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A Dad Supreme

“So assuming you are quite serious about this claim,…”
===========

I didn’t say Roberts is running a scam. Read a bit closer (and also down below, long posted before you replied where I said I don’t think it’s fraud).

I said it would be the best scam ever invented, if it was one and that’s what others would copy.

Not his honest attempt at a game with a million promises, but they’d see the results, no consequences, and then pretend to make games along the same lines fraudulently.

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Utakata

That’s a little better. And thanks for clarifying that. :)

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

This is why I love this forum, the polite discussion.

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Roger Melly

It is plainly not a scam but it is also not plain as if it will get a release ( I think it will get a release eventually but given how slow development seems to be going it’s not a certainty )

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Armsman

Roger Mellly
It is plainly not a scam but it is also not plain as if it will get a release ( I think it will get a release eventually but given how slow development seems to be going it’s not a certainty )

Given the development times of MMOs that are in effect clones of existing MMOs (IE they’re not implementing a lot -if any – new software tech); given what Chris Roberts is doing (effectively having s Universe simulator that does a lot of thing procedurally – and basically putting full planets and environments that don’t require the standard ‘Skybox’, etc.) – how is 4 years 10 months to get to the point it’s at now “slow development”?

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Roger Melly

Because alpha 3.0 is already nearly a year late , the original release date for Star Citizen was 2016 (and the way it’s going the very earliest release date will be 2019 unless they release it as an unpolished buggy mess )so that is one and a half years late and there is still no sign of Squadron 42 .

Think it should be obvious to anyone whose head and wallet has not been swallowed by the black hole that is Star Citizen why the development is slow .

You can’t candy coat this with the its new and original argument and so it will take longer than any other mmo to develop anymore because even if that is true the game should be a lot further along than it is now after nearly 5 years . That might have worked a year ago but as the time passes it is becoming a more and more feeble argument . I think you are going to have to come up with something a bit more substantial if you want to defend it .

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Lethality

Why would this game not finishing be any different than any game not finishing? Do you have any idea how many countless projects that are cancelled before you ever hear of them?

Emmanuel Carabott
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Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

In principle I agree with you, as backers we agree to take the risk and if they fail well they dont call them risks for fun of course. That being said though things are rarely if ever black and white. Now lets forget star citizen for a moment because I dont know if this is what they did or not, I am just arguing a potential scenario of how a project like star citizen can even without intention become a scam. Essentially how circumstances could blur the lines between risk and scam.

lets say for the sake of argument I create a crowdfunded project and money starts coming in. Its literally the classic hen laying golden eggs.. money is coming in but there is so much i can get without me keeping the momentum going so I start promising things, problem is every few days I need to promise a new feature with this really busy hen so I end up not doing my due diligence on the features I am promising, I will figure them out later for now lets keep on collecting the golden eggs. People start realizing that perhaps being promised everything under sun isnt necessary a good thing and they did what essentially i should have done and started pushing for a halt on the expansion of the game design because they not I started worrying the scope was increasing so much that it might create problems so we stopped the scope but certainly we didnt want to stop the hen so no more features we’ll just focus selling items in my game. new Item every few months should keep the momentum going. But my problem now is to keep the faith in the game and that will not happen if I give long timelines and outline the real risk so I try to paint a rosy picture.. next update is around the corner, we have enough money to finish this no matter how much we’re delayed etc.. I am not pocketing the money of course, I am only taking my wage but I also acted dishonestly a bit to keep the funds flowing.

Its like economic bubbles in a way, why do economic bubbles occur? people pay for stock prices far exceeding their real value and why did they do that? well generally because whoever sold the stock painted a much rosier picture then what the reality was at the time. This is where things get complicated… is it a business man job to kill the golden hen? well no, they want to sell and of course painting a rosy picture is part of that. On the other hand is it fair or even legal for buyers to be presented the wrong picture so they buy the product? Its a tough question whats for sure is every bubble bursting left wide spread destruction in its wake so for the sake of everyone lets just hope my fictitious crowd funding campaign never happens in real life.

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Sally Bowls

Why would this game not finishing be any different than any game not finishing?

Because of the recourse. If I bought a $150 pre-release package from Amazon, EA, ATVI,… and they canceled the project, I would get a full refund. Any, not just SC, crowdfunded project would also owe me a refund. It’s just that there would be little to refund, it had been spent on expenses like salaries and equipment and software and rent. Nothing nefarious here; you don’t donate so the money can sit in the bank just in case, it is to be spent. And once spent, it can’t be unspent. For example, if someone causes you millions of dollars of medical expenses and pain and suffering from an accident; their liability to you is the same whether they are rich or poor. But the poor person would probably never pay you anything and it is not even worth the cost to sue them.

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Lethality

It’s clear in a crowdfunding situation that the backers take the place of the financial position a publisher would take. So, in either case, someone would be out money. I don’t think there should be any special consideration wether it’s a backer or a corporation.

There;’s really no way to compare the two models. Post-launch, a success means something different for a publisher as well.

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A Dad Supreme

“Why would this game not finishing be any different than any game not finishing?”
=======
A: The amount of promises, bloat and hype vs any game not finishing previously, by Roberts and fans. Most other game producers don’t and haven’t hyped their games as much as Roberts, which in turn has generated millions more. Even if they did, they did it based on their own money, not someone else’s.

If this game didn’t/doesn’t launch the way it was supposed to, it would be the biggest failure of all, even bigger than Project Titan (Overwatch) or EQN. The main reason? They didn’t hype their games anywhere near the level Roberts.

I’ve always said if this game was made as promised, I’ll be the first in line to buy it when it’s launched but until then, I’m not giving one plug nickel due to the way it’s been handled.

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Lethality

I’m sorry, how have they “hyped” it, exactly? They do zero actual marketing and very little PR. All of their news and updates surround the development process of the game.

They continue to raise money because they are a going concern. They have a payroll of over 400, 5 studios, equipment, infrastructure… so the sales you see is because they are operating as a business with revenue targets to meet — just like any other business.

deekay_plus
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Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

I’m sorry, how have they “hyped” it, exactly? They do zero actual marketing and very little PR. All of their news and updates surround the development process of the game.”

do you ignore all the social media accounts youtube channel twitch channel convention presentations and booths and press interviews adn exclusive hands on or something? oh and dont forget their influencer focused referal program.

because that is marketting. that is exactly what marketting is. all of that.

other business make revenue from selling products that are ready or near ready to be delivered within the set amount of time prescribed by laws in every state and country in the west for delivering products and services after an order and payment is made.

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Joe Blobers

Quote A Dad Supreme:”this would be the BEST scam ever in the world ever invented”

Do you realize that what you describe apply already and since the very beginning of crowdfunding?

Even better, this is called a fraud in legal language and has been going on for centuries, way before the crowdfunded model was a thing.

Indeed since antiquity with counterfeiter, Middle Age with Roberval balance with tampered weight, or in the present era with Refco financial service scandal.

By your comment you just confirmed CR’s words:” SC would be the worst scam of the history”.

Anybody following the same path would just pick the wrong option because the worst scam of history is not a scam. Exactly like the worst joke of history is not a joke.

SC do not buy resort on Pacific Island but DO spend pledges through pretty normal expenses lines in game development industry.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

“Even better, this is called a fraud in legal language…”
================
I wouldn’t call it fraud.

It’s clear to me that Roberts does want to and is, making a video game. There isn’t any attempt to deceive a backer that his intentions are honest in regards to doing that. That’s where I differ from any other critic of the game thus far I guess.

The only problem I have is by continuing to load more and more things, it’s going far beyond what seems is physically possibly in any reasonable timeframe of a launch. It’s like building a car and while designing suspension saying, “We’re planning on putting in a state of the art sound system” and then putting people on that before you even figure out the problems with the engine. Then your car launches with a four cylinder engine and an AM radio when you promised everyone a V-10 and a killer system, but hey.. it drives and it’s a car so you can’t sue me.

The scam portion would be anyone coming after and realizing that as long as you attempt to make a game, and then keep pushing promises about what you say will be in it (BLOAT), you can collect as much money as you want. If it doesn’t work, you can still push out a game but the things you promised everyone won’t be in there so they’ve basically paid a champagne price for a beer-level game.

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Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

I think people are freaking out simply because they’ve never been allowed to see behind the curtain of game development before and the Dunning-Kruger effect is out in full force.

Personally, I’m looking forward to playing Star Citizen when it finally launches.

deekay_plus
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Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

for many many years developers have talked as openly as possible about how clever they think their development nad design is or what went wrong with past projects that didn’t deliver.

ignorance of the business and process of how games are made is a choice. was before star citizen ever did a kickstarter.

Reader
Loopy

That’s a clever way to call everyone an idiot.

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Reselect Name

No, not everyone. Only the ones that troll every SC article with conspiracy theories and hysteria. The rest of us just sit back and let them try to make their game.

April-Rain
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
April-Rain

Star Citizen isn’t a scam per say, it’s a project so out of control and mismanaged that it will be the biggest crowdfunding fail in history that will get many blog posts. books and even films written about it.

But I suspect a vastly stripped down version of the promised game may make it to market but I suspect that will fail due to the massive expectations of the cult that blindly follows it.

Reader
Rhime

Uh, yea…could you point out where there’s mismanagement or the “project is so out of control”. Please enlighten those who might have missed that memo…

Reader
Joe Blobers

Quote April-Rain:” books and even films written about it.”

“It will be the biggest fail getting book, movies”… and one single line after, “it will be stripped down”… Is there a third option that “will happen” ?

The cultist story train wreck is quite entertaining, I guess you made reference to the famous 2000 preachers (ex-whales) that individually pledged +80k$…
There is no cult because CR is not the Messiah for anyone, Backers fanboys included.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

/snicker

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
BalsBigBrother

Star Citizen isn’t a scam nor is it the next coming of the messaih it’s just a game, one with a big budget and still in development, but still just a game.

Like anything some folks will like it others won’t and some will just go meh. All are valid opinions and non of those folk are wrong to think as they do.

Trying to convince someone who isn’t there to be convinced or telling them they have the wrong opinion is just a waste of time and effort. Me I simply accept it as an opinion, regardless of whether I agree with it or not, then get on with my life. Much better for my blood pressure and sanity.

As far as my opinion of SC goes its a game in development with the potential to be something exceptional. I failed fortune telling class at school so I am content to wait for it to launch to see if it meets that potential or not. All the hot air that comes before then is just hot air and won’t be worth sh…..um anything at that point. My opinion take it or leave it as you wish /shrugs.

styopa
Reader
styopa

Hanlon’s razor.
I don’t think CR is a crook, just a shitty manager. In fact, not even that; he may be a great manager, but he’s demonstrably, historically, unable to close a project before he’s distracted by the next cool idea.

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Oleg Chebeneev

CR finished all the projects he worked on before. And terrible manager wouldnt be able to make over 400 people across several studios work well together. CR is just bad at giving realistic release dates. He hopes to finish everything he wants way earlier then his team is able to

deekay_plus
Reader
Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

tell that to digital anvil. and his last work at origin after selling out to EA.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
zeko_rena

I wish that were true but I am pretty sure they had to pull him off Freelancer

taojeff
Reader
taojeff

I believe officially it was “creative differences” which really narrows down the possible reasons.

Retrospectively, it looks like MS wanted to ship it as fast as possible, do a fairly limited production run to recoup their investment (or enough of it that they’d be ok with writing the rest off) and then forget about it because it wasn’t a XBox game.

styopa
Reader
styopa

That’s simply, factually, untrue.
Every project he has had including wc1 was ultimately torn from his grasp because it was ridiculously over budget, over time, or both.
The reality is that ultimately a good creative project manager understands that you have to feature-lock your project or it will never come out because you’re chasing every shiny new idea that happens upon your brain.

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Joe Blobers

Quote Styopa:”that you have to feature-lock your project”

Usage of “torn” adjectif is factually false and does not depicte even remotely the truth. This is the first point.

Second point, shooting evidence like the “need to feature-lock a project” does not imply it was not done.

Strech Goals have been done and stopped commonly with and by Backers+CR. No more Strech Goals since end of 2014.

That is remarkably close from the evidence of a feature-locked project we are talking about.

styopa
Reader
styopa

Ha ha, I knew eventually you would show up.
Joe Blobers = the Star Citizen ‘bad penny’ of MOP forums.
Let’s look at the last few updates – so, “sloshing water” and “a need to poop” were in the feature set laid out for the game in 2014?
Really?

Reader
kidwithknife

To be fair, with several studios working on SC it’s entirely likely that the “poop mechanics” are being worked on by one team while all the other stuff that’s holding up release is being worked on by others. There’s not much point in one studio sitting around doing nothing when they could be working on some fluff features.

Reader
Joe Blobers

Quote Styopa:”Ha ha, I knew eventually you would show up.”

The very same remark than the guys behind the latest fake refund, so much proud of their new prowes, asking “where is Joe, are you okay Joe”… All trolling in the comment section explaining how moron I was to declare”fake Jpges and Video”… dancing with and around their Clown totem…

The last time we heard from them, they were all frenetically back-pedaling or trying to disapear behind others lies/obfuscation smoke screen and deleting their comments… including their LOL in capital letters :)

Fact is that beside individual genuinely doubting about a precise date of release or contents, we will have to deal during a few more quarters with those shooting proven non sense, fabricated, troncated and/or misleading comments.
Your “torn” and “feature-lock” are of the same caliber and quite visible :)

Reader
thirtymil

CR finished all the projects he worked on before.

That’s debatable – Roberts left Digital Anvil before Freelancer was completed, for example. He remained on as a creative consultant but the resulting project had features cut. If I did that at work I wouldn’t claim that was a project I’d personally completed.