Star Citizen: Around the Verse covers shopping as the community debates pay-to-win

This week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse is all about shopping, and I mean the fun kind of shopping where you spend pretend money in a video game, not the kind where you spend real money on a video game. The episode deep-dives the in-game shopping kiosk, which has to feel immersive as the player is using it as well as informative without being information-overload. The team says base functionality is already there, as a branch of other types of kiosks, but of course, it’ll continue iterating the item kiosks into their own unique experience.

Meanwhile, Star Citizen fansite Relay has a provocative piece out on whether or not the game is pay-to-win. In recognizing the term’s definition isn’t widely agreed upon, author CommanderLlama settles for simply examining “how much wealth inequality from the real world are the developers allowing to leak into the game world” and whether “the real-money-paying player [is] in an advantaged position compared to the non-paying player.” Ultimately, he concludes, while Star Citizen isn “somewhere on the pay-to-win spectrum, it isn’t “an egregious example yet” in spite of the fact that the game would’ve been untenable without the ship funding model. “But the final structure is also non-existent, so we can’t exactly place it,” he concludes.

Eight hundred Reddit comments later and the Star Citizen community has thoroughly dissected the article’s ideas, with many of the backers admitting the game is pay-to-win but just as many picking it apart. Take some extra popcorn if you’re heading over to peruse!

Source: ATV, contest, Relay. With thanks to Cotic!
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Dividion

Is it pay to win? I would say “no”, but in truth there is no definitive answer because “win” is subject to interpretation.

Someone who wants to haul cargo can pay money before launch to buy a larger cargo ship, and for a time has the potential to pull in more profits than someone who starts with a smaller cargo ship. But will they “win” against a combat vessel? Will they “win” if the player with the smaller ship finds a more lucrative route? And someone who spends more on a Hornet could get beaten in a fight by someone in a starter ship, because combat is skill-based. Backers who spend $3,000 to purchase a Javelin will not be able to harvest fuel, mine asteroids, repair other ships, win races, or transport passengers better than ships designed for those professions.

If you have the same skill as someone else, and identical equipment in-game (all of which can be acquired through gameplay), then you have the same odds. It doesn’t matter if one of you paid real currency for your stuff. Paying carries no guarantee of victory. In my book, that’s the very definition of “not pay to win”.

Given the variety of professions in SC, and the enormity of the ‘Verse, even if someone has a head start in a certain profession because of a ship they bought, they can still be surpassed.

The important questions are:
1) What are you trying to “win”? dogfights, races, reputation with aliens, peer ratings, a particular plot of land, locating a particular derelict, etc.
2) Will paying real money guarantee victory over someone that doesn’t pay?

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Joe Blobers

Pretty interesting controversial P2W article indeed.

I take note that the full article takes 12 pages of a Word document (Arial 10 size character) just to describe the different meaning of 3 characters, depending of some willing to see one single facet and ignore all other ones. Because life is so much confortable when everything is split between black or white, Western or Eastern block, Good and Bad…

Fact is that there is no kickstarter project without pledges. Can you gather 200M$ (or even 100) selling skins and flairs to what is seen as a niche market by some? Answer is no. Selling ships is the single way to gather enough funds.. unless people start to work for glory. All you need is love right? :)

So is it P2W?
Somehow yes as anyone with something bigger than a starter package (like Aurora) will have an advantage in terms of cargo capacity or guns. So what? Is a Freelancer pledged with real cash is different of the one purchased with credits? No

Does 6 months old time player who started with an Aurora and grind to say a Connie, do have an advantage toward new comer? Definitively Yes, but no more no less than the Connie bought with cash.

To avoid the so called P2W “drama”, MMO player progression should be wiped out every 6 months so everybody start from scratch, again and again to not frustrate new comers. Fact is that nobody want it to happen because nobody want to be forced to start from scratch multiple time.

Last thought: I am afraid to say that yes people with cash on our planet do have many advantage compared (and not necessarily “against”) those with no to less cash. They are also the one able to pick project of their choice to make them tangible, day after day.

Life is somehow for many P2W so arguing about a game that mimic the process of life is like arguing against life and death. It is useless, we can’t escape it, it is part of our DNA like pledges are part of Kickstarter DNA… and it is not even weird despite our individual frustration level about pledges or death :)

Your Honor
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Your Honor

I’m going to propose a test for whether or not a game is pay2win.
It’s a simple two-step test.
1. Can you buy power with real-world currency either directly or indirectly?
2. Can you exert that power over other players in the game?

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Oleg Chebeneev

MMO business models expert here. SC isnt P2W

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

the other day on the TDG you posted your very own definition of pay2win which star citizen fits in every way.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Let’s make the philosophy clear and trust me, you’ve heard it before. At nearly $200 million funded thus far the project is already paid for. Are they going to say that? Not a chance.

When people “pledge” now, they are not doing it to help the game get finished. They are doing it because Cloud Imperium Games is selling something the buyer wants to have an advantage on, Pay To Win.

While this advantage may not amount to a completely equipped ship ready to be operational, it does take away the grind of earning in game currency for the hull of that ship, that vehicle, that land claim, etc. Without a clear definition (one CIG will tell you they can’t clearly answer yet), one has to assume that it puts the buyer ahead of those coming into the game at launch with a starter ship package.

We have definitely moved past crowd funding and well into advantage. So CIG will let this process bubble, remaining unclear until nearly game launch and when the time is ripe, will have to face one crowd or the other. And if they do it right, all of those who pledged will feel lied to and those who expected a fair start will get one.

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Armsman

They could still run out of funds. They’ve been spending the money as fast as it comes in (nearly 500 Devs across 3 locations in different parts of the world isn’t cheap.

SWTOR cost $250 million and it pretty much had WoW to copy, just with full voice over and a sh!tload of cinematic cutscenes.

Plus they’re not making one game, they’re making two – as Squadron 42 is a full single player game in it’s own right – it’s not just a ‘ MMO quest series’ in the PU. Yes it takes place in locations that will also be in the MMO version PU – but it is a separate game.

So, yeah, with 2 to 3 years to go before a retail V 1.0 release of either SC or SQ42; to think – “Yes, the project is paid for…” is just not accurate. In fact there’s still always the possibility this whole thing could go belly up before we see a retail V 1.0 release.

I’m sure they have a contingency fund set aside – and I don’t think they’re running low; but they base their development and employee size on how much cash flow they’re getting per month. Should that start to drop, I’m sure there would be staff reductions to accommodate, should the funding pace lessen greatly for a time.

Time will tell on how profitable SC and SQ42 is in the end (if they make it to retail release – and whether it will be a success or failure is anyone’s guess. I backed so I hope they’ll be able to do a retail release and continue to build on what’s in Retail V 1.0 (like any MMO) – but who knows.

EA thought SWToR couldn’t fail, and we all saw how that’s turned out; (200 servers down to 5 in seven years. )

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Loyal Patron
Armsbend

At this point people giving money are enablers. Stop giving money and the game has a better chance of actually being made. As it stands now – it won’t. At this point the game will bomb in retail – he is making more not releasing the game.

Yah yah everyone knows this by now or should.

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Joe Blobers

Quote Armsbend: “Yah yah everyone knows this by now or should.”

… Everyone or People or We… different way to say I am a self procalmed expert in game industry and have exclusive precise financial insight nobody else know about to give a sure prediction.

We know by heart how those Everyone with Sure prediction failed hard to be even vaguely fall close to their own Sure prediction. Consistently :)

MMO print money after after release to all and not only original backers, incentive to release both SQ42 and SC is high, not keeping something in Alpla for ever. Because for ever does not exist in our world based on ROI spreadsheet.

Create a factory or project from scratch is never the most rewarding part financially speaking… That is the less rewarding financial period. Profit come when you release a product that differenciate enough from the crowd.

Guess that those seniors directors with decades of experience know this simple rule :)

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Arktouros

It comes down to cash shop exclusivity. If ships can be earned via in game means, that isn’t really pay2win. It’s more really you’re paying for the time it would take to acquire that particular ship. Even if you get unlimited amount of said ships and normally you couldn’t, while I know the gut instinct is to cry out, the fact is it just represents an in game amount of time that it would take to generate same a mount of ship.

Where the argument should go, for many games really, is taking a stance against the amount of time you’re able to purchase via real life money. For example if it takes you 100 hours to mission out enough cash to buy a ship, and you can buy that ship for $10 instead, that’s buying back a lot of your time for a pretty cheap price. The dollar power in that scenario is immense and it undermines the value of in game accomplishments.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

The question also becomes, since I paid for a specialized ship and get the base hull right away, doesn’t that put me at an advantage not having to make as much money/take as much tim to equip that ship? Therefor, I can theoretically make more money on higher skill mechanics, sooner.

deekay_plus
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Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

onlty rental ships can be earned in game. and only through arena commander.

also pretty fucking sure it was called pay2win when i bought that sword for $200 that was otherwise obtainable in game and there was no cash shop back in 2006.

also the ships aren’t $10. they are hundreds of dollars.

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primal

your argument makes no sense. ships will be able to be earned in game at some point its not like they never will be. there is no pay to win atm because you win nothing. if you want to test out a wide variety ships for a limited time jump on the PTU when it goes live for everyone/your citizen number. saves you bucket loads of money

deekay_plus
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Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

“in order to defend my favourite game as not being pay2win i will declare that there is no winning in games” no matter how often this meme is rephrased it doesn’t get more true.

and we’re not talking about some ever moving goal post that hasn’t been talked about by the devs in years.

we’re talking about the game as it is right now. as it has been for the past 6 years. as it will continue to be for unknown numbers of years to come.

PTU doesn’t always or often have more ships than what you own and maybe if the latest partch. can’t speak to the latest ptu, but certainly most PTUs i’ve been have been just my own ships.

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Roger Melly

I have seen all the arguments against this being a pay to win game by the fanboys but for me the minute you start selling spaceships in a game with pvp content it instantly becomes pay to win .

deekay_plus
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Patreon Donor
deekay_plus

3.1.4 was deployed finally so i got out of levski the some what cheaty way even tho i was stuck there due to bugs. tho to be fair the servers had been up a long time without a restart so…

star citizen is about as pay2win as it gets by just about even definition of the term in which something can possibly ever fit the definition.

hopefully they’ll change that sooner than later, but we have to judge the game as it is now and not some mythical unknown set of conditions in some distant unknown future that hasn’t been discussed by teh company making the game in several years now,

because while the launch goal when these ships will no longer be on sale according to years old statements has only moved further and further in to the future, the ship sales themselves have progressively gotten more and more advantageous incentivized in their sales pitches and frequent.

while the barely an offhand mention statements that obtaining some ships through actual gameplay (sorry kids, rental credits for rentals from grinding arena commander doesn’t even remotely count) in 3.2 have yet to be mentioned since. while what 3.2 is supposed to be has changed dramatically since then.

is pay2win a bad thing? idk i quite like it as long as it’s not the worst ever. star citizen is closer to the worst ever than it is to decent tho.

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TheDonDude

Pretty good episode. Mining and the shopping kiosks look cool, and it was nice to see the first inklings of first-person-shooter AI.

As for p2w, everyone draws the line in a different spot, and it can sometimes be a bit of a gray area. But man oh man, it sure is looking like SC is going to be on the darker side of gray.