Star Citizen backer took CIG to small claims court over his refund request – and lost

    
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The Star Citizen refunds subreddit is often the home of big words and tall tales, but Redditor firefly212 did more than just talk: He actually tried to take Cloud Imperium to court over his refund request. Unfortunately for him, he lost in small claims court and the case has been sent to arbitration, as the judge apparently agreed with CIG that its retroactive policy regarding refund arbitration should apply even to donors and package-buyers who began contributing to the game before that policy existed.

“In mediation, CIG/RSI would not agree to refund the portion of my account not covered by the arbitration agreement. Though lawyers aren’t permitted, CIG/RSI lawyers drafted and submitted statements that were permitted. The judge declined to hear anything about the conscionability or lack of consideration in the TOS. Despite the top sentence on the TOS, CIG/RSI successfully argued that the arbitration clause should be applied to transactions even before the clause existed. CIG/RSI repeatedly argued that there is a playable game and that funds have been earned, but the judge did not rule that either. Following application of arbitration clause to transactions outside covered dates, court orders matter to arbitration, case is dismissed without prejudice.”

You’ve heard the name firefly212 before: He was the MS-stricken backer whose comments started the massive soul-searching thread back in June about his loss of faith in the project and desire to claw back his $4500 in purchases; at the time, he complained about CIG’s lack of financial transparency, his belief that CIG hadn’t given any refunds since January, and the cost (hundreds of dollars) to seek relief in arbitration court. That thread ballooned to almost 1500 comments and 1700 upvotes, and firefly212 has since been “expelled” from the Evocati corps in spite of the fact that CIG is still hanging onto his money.

CIG’s official current policy is to refund purchases up to 30 days; after that, it says it will examine refund requests on a case-by-case basis. Prior to the TOS change two years ago, the refund grace period was 18 months.

Most people are thanking firefly212 for having the guts to at least try to grapple with CIG.

“Regardless of whether or not you think people should get refunds, it strikes me as incredibly weird how people are over there cheering the idea that CIG can just tell us (and, accordingly, them) to go fuck ourselves,” Beet Wagon (who is also one of our tipsters for this piece) wrote in the burgeoning new thread about the case. “Even if you think all the people who want refunds are dirty lying punks trying to back out of an obligation, cheering the loss of consumer protections seems… very strange to me.”

Start your morning right! from starcitizen_refunds

Source: Original thread, Reddit. With thanks to MrWakka, Beet Wagon, and Quavers.
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IronSalamander8 .

Definitely a popcorn situation. As someone else posted, between this and Eve we have so much drama that it makes soap operas look tame!

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Ken from Chicago

Bored Gamer UK posted a video yesterday that helps explains the situation. If he is correct, then apparently Firefly212 backed STAR CITIZEN *before* CIG changed the Terms of Service thusly:
— Changed refund window of all of a backer’s funds from 18 months to 30 days.
— CIG would consider longer refunds after that on a case-by-case basis
— Backers agree to binding arbitration to settle disputes not sue.

The catch is that Firefly212 also backed the game *after* the TOS change was in effect. In so doing, he agreed to the new terms which applied to all of his funds. Had he not done that, donate after the change of TOS–thus, agreeing to follow the change in TOS–then he would have been able to get his refund.

It’s sad because MS is no joke. Sure, the illness as it progress would make playing this type of game difficult if not impossible, but more importantly it makes *life* in general more difficult not to mention it tends to shorten’s a person’s life 5-10 years. No one won in this situation.

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primal

Yeah it is pretty bad but even back in 2015 when they were shooting the mocap for sq42 and showing us clips of it they were shooting fps parts. They even said they had military advisors in to show them how to hold the weapons properly and stuff so he knows it was going in

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dsmart

That link is disabled. It’s one of only two places (besides Steam), where you could buy the game before we disabled (that’s why you can only access the game’s Steam landing page) the Steam storefront in April 2016 while we work on porting the game. And that link is our Digital River storefront which, like all my games, only issues Steam keys.

Nice try.

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Joe Blobers

So in short the real game is to find the game and then try to get a refund?

Do you plan to give a press version to sites prior to release so independant people will share their feeling?

An ETA may be?

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Ardra Ventax

came for the comments. stayed for the comments. SC… like EVE, the community is vastly more interesting than the game. #SaltPeanuts

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Caleb Cranson

Same can be said for Shroud of the Avatar. Game sucks but the community is entertainment unto themselves.

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John Kiser

Game sucks is subjective though. While you or me may not like it enough people clearly do to keep supporting the game and its creators. Not every game made has to cater to everyone’s tastes and sometimes being a niche and pulling in your own crowd is the best way to do things.

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thirtymil

Thanks (and thanks Oleg). I just hadn’t seen any, that’s all. I generally prefer my conversation uncensored, except where aggressive or extremely polarised attitudes drag everything down to a toxic level.

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thirtymil

(and if anyone’s wondering why I don’t make sense above, it looks like my comment got orphaned after the thread it was attached to disappeared)

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Sean Barfoot

This project must be running out of cash, or there’s simply no way they’d continue to debase themselves and their backers by selling so many products. After all the game is supposed to be fully funded right? And their fans insist they aren’t adding any new features, so they can’t need the money for that either.

Or are they lying, and without maintaining a rate of sales this game will go under?

The fact that they fought this refund to the extent that they did, does not bode well.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Its never “fully funded”. The more money they get, the better.

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Sean Barfoot

So is the project at risk without continued funding or not?

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Oleg Chebeneev

They definetly need continued funding to support 500 devs team. They have some money in reserve + Chris hopes to get additional funding through SQ42 sales.

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Sean Barfoot

That sounds like a very precarious situation, but certainly explains their current sales model.

I’m frankly shocked to hear that after 190 million dollars, the game isn’t even paid for yet.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Its not just a game, its 2 games developed simutaniously: SQ42 (singleplayer campaign like Call of Duty) and PU (MMO sandbox space sim). And both of them are AAA titles. So nothing shocking tbh

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Sean Barfoot

The admission that if they can’t keep selling ships, and ATVs, and tanks, and land claims, they may not be able to finish the game at the scale promised is shocking. Not that CIG could contrive to spend that much money.

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John Kiser

Not really all that shocking unless someone invests more money in them. They are trying t o do it with more player funding to keep the game specifically to their vision a bit more in all likelihood. Once you get certain elements in the game design world in the mix you have rushed deadlines and them trying to rush crap out the door even if it is a buggy mess.

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primal

its not shocking at all. there is absolutely no evidence anywhere that the game isnt paid for. its just peoples opinions but it would be useful for them to keep receiving funds to at least pay for the online servers and download fees they have to pay when people download the game and updates without impacting the pool of money to develop the game

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John Kiser

No game in perpetual development is ever “fully funded”. WoW isn’t, no MMORPG that exists or ever will exist is either.

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Sean Barfoot

But a kickstarter usually is. Didn’t they call all the stretch goals funded?

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primal

nah it isnt, lots of kickstarters have used it to show investors theres interest in the game so if they hit the kickstarter goal they get more money through investors

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John Kiser

There is a difference between kickstarter funding and having funding perpetually. MMORPGS, online multiplayer games, and the like are often under CONSTANT development. Warframe for instance has never officially “launched” because of this, but is still a solid game. You can’t judge “funded to launch” a product and fully funded as the same thing when dealing with anything gaming these days really. Sales of single player games allow funding for patching etc for instance or developing further DLC and so on.

A game that is ever fully funded is one with stagnant development.

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Ken from Chicago

Yes, that was reportedly the attitude Atari had with STAR TREK ONLINE. Once the game was launched, they felt that was it. While mmos usually cut back on staff once the game launches, development is still ongoing for maintenance and developing new features, expansions, etc.

Perfect World reportedly bought STO and understood the need to invest in the game because an mmo is a service and ongoing and increased Cryptic Studios staff to handle future development of STO. The result? STO, at 8 years, has outlasted the longest Star Trek series by a year and just launched a new expansion, Victory is Life that updates their DS9 base and hiring actors from the tv series.

MassivelyOP had a kickstarter that was fully funded and later added an ongoing Patreon subscription so they can continue to great mmo reporting. It’s an ongoing service.

The flip side are kickstarted games that fully fund and launch but are disappointing or even fail. Even successful games, might not have wanted features because the cost would be too high, at least in the near future.

amkosh
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amkosh

This game was way more than a single kickstarter.

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Please Select New Name

The game makes between 1.3m -2m a month they want to use that cash to make the game perfect. Sure its a bit buggy now but with the recent updates every 3 months they made a whole lot of progress. But with more funding they can make more detailed stuff, the original graphics the game first had were drastically different from what we have now i think that’s where the money goes to make it better the project doesn’t just die with 180-190m under its shoulders.

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MeanFaced Johnny

It’s kind of an old joke with backers now, but certain people have been saying “90 days tops” until funding runs out for three years or so now. Fact is, even if I don’t agree 100% with it, people continue to spend money so they continue to offer stuff for money. I hit my spending limit, and I’m content. Anything else I want I’ll buy in-game in the future, but there are those who will buy everything, so why not make that money like every other for profit business?

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CalibarZero

i don’t think this project is a scam, there is “technically” a product or service for sale that you can purchase at whatever price the company deems fit, in this case a beautiful jpeg and technically a downloadable piece of software that you can execute and use

it is, however, looking like it’s a very special case of sunk cost fallacy in the making

amkosh
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amkosh

Why do you think this is a large extent? They sent someone to a small claims court in CA. That person had docs written up from a lawyer. The refund request was for a relatively high amount, so I can see why they just wouldn’t take a default judgement.

They also need to defend their arbitration agreement, because if they do not, then they could easily lose that defense on subsequent claims. Think about it, if they had ignore this and lost (which is the usual if someone doesn’t show up), then someone like Derek Smart would probably organize a group to spend a few hundred and then mass sue in small claims and then use the wins as a PR windfall against CIG.

But this is not a lot, I’d be surprised if they threw in more than 500$ worth of lawyer time and going to the court house by a layperson. Conflate that with 4500$ possible downside, then it would be cheap at 8X the price.

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Cristi Stanciu

I remember some years ago when I was looking for a mmo with space ships : I read a lot about Star Citizen but it was only a concept so I started playing Eve Online .
1-2 later years after facing wars, treacery, despair, friends and foes, dramas and a lot of adventures on Eve I kept reading about SC and about the backers full of unjustified happiness because they can login in game and walk on some kind of garage where they can admire their personal ships buyed with hundreds/thousand of dollars (?!).
After 5 years you guys have some content but you are so very far from a “breathing” complex virtual universe … not to mention the programming of that universe .
And the fact that SC will not be a MMO (MASSIVELY multiplayer online) …

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Rhime

Just in case you missed it, CIG crossed 500 employees. from starcitizen


I find it hard to believe that people still insist that Star Citizen will never be released considering how many people are employed making it all happen. It’s just too big of a project to fail at this point.

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Kevin McCaughey

Tell that to Lieman brothers.

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BDJ

What is even more mind boggling is how in the heck are they not done yet with over 500 employees. They are definitely in the boat of a watered down employee pool.

Its like the old 40 man vanilla raids. 20-25 solid players and 15-20 horrible ones that are getting carried.

It makes no sense other wise to me. 500 people and no end in sight. Its unreal at this point.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Chill dude, they passed 500 just recently. They didnt even have 200 few years ago. And they invested alot of time developing procedural tech that will allow them to create planets and system much faster in the future.
SC is here for a long 100 systems haul, not to quickly deliver just ONE system.

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kgptzac

There’s no such thing as “too big to fail”, only “too hyped to satisfy”.

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DoomSayer

So does everyone view this as an industry problem or just an issue with CiG with regards to refunds on active development games?

Phyl
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Phyl

I’m glad I got my refund back in January before they stopped issuing refunds and stone walling backers.