Our inbox exploded last night with Star Citizen tips, and that can mean only one thing: money shenanigans. In-game money, that is, but this is Star Citizen we’re talking about, a game where out-of-game money very much buys you in-game stuff.
So here’s the deal. Up until now, backers were able to hoard some in-game credits (UEC) but not gigantic piles. That’s no longer the case, as the total cap on this currency has now been lifted, meaning that early backers can stockpile bajillions and bring it with them into the launched version of the game, which is probably still years away. That’s a lot of piles of cash.
Cloud Imperium has confirmed that the hard cap was removed intentionally; it wasn’t just a bug. “It seems the cap was removed when UEC melting was brought in,” CIG’s Kraiklyn told Spectrum-goers. “However, there is still a daily cap of 25k per 24 hours.”
Reddit is, predictably, torn on whether or not this is a serious pay-to-win transgression that could destroy the in-game economy and kill the game…. or just “fake outrage” perpetrated by bored haters. Some folks are in actual denial, calling the debate “FUD” and insisting there never was a cap. (There was.) Overall, the salt is strong. Which side you come down on probably has a lot to do with your understanding of crowdfunding, your observations on past MMO economies, and your acceptance of the game’s existing funding state.
“Removing Voyager Direct meant we had to re-balance the economy, and with a re-balance, we wanted to offer backers the ability to ‘melt’ past item purchases made at older, unbalanced prices back to UEC to allow them to spend it on buying items in game at the new re-balanced prices. Without removing the cap, backers who were melting and re-applying funds would eclipse the overall UEC cap and be locked into their previously purchased items. So we removed the overall cap, but kept the daily cap in place to give our backers options and flexibility. This was purely a development / platform decision and has nothing to do with marketing or sales and was made to not disadvantage people that had supported us over the years. This has been the case since the release of 3.2 on June 30 and everyone seemed pretty happy with this flexibility as being able to ‘melt’ items that were purchased on Voyager Direct has been a long-term request from our community. So, it’s a bit surprising to see some people paint this as an issue now, especially considering the context of the change and the general happiness our community had with it when it was first rolled out. But, hey, it’s the internet and people have to complain about something!”
And on pay-to-win concerns, here’s what the company has to say:
“Another thought re: ‘Pay to Win’ – what is ‘win’ in Star Citizen? We have challenges and gameplay for everything from solo players with just an Aurora to a huge org. crewing an Idris. We’re making a ‘space sim’ – I don’t even know what you would qualify as ‘win.’ That’s the whole idea: you play how you want to play, and should be able to have fun in a number of ways. Just like in real life, there are multiple paths, and your own success is really measured on a personal level. Further, there will be nothing in the game that you can only purchase with money. You can’t buy better stats or skill, we don’t sell magic kill bullets and everything that you can purchase with real money (like ships or UEC) can be earned via gameplay. By allowing people to purchase ships or a limited amount of UEC, we’re just allowing people that want to support the project a way to do it (its expensive to build a game of this scope and its expensive to run the servers that people play on), while not preventing the person that has only bought the basic game package from playing, earning and upgrading their equipment and competing with people that have spent more than them. Every persistent online game has inequality in starting assets, even if there is no ability to purchase, as people start their game careers at different times. If you join Eve or WoW right now, you don’t have the experience, stats or assets that someone that has been playing for years. We don’t see the issue with some people starting Star Citizen with different equipment, as long as everyone gets the opportunity to earn everything via gameplay, which they will.”