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Dsmart
dsmart
Keymaster

THE YEAR END CASH GRAB – LAND SALES!

While it should have come as no surprise to anyone paying close attention, on Nov 28th, CIG announced that they were starting to sell land. Yes, land, dirt, in a game that six years and $170M later, is still a glorified tech demo, no vertical slice, and barely 15% functional based on what has been promised since 2012.

Coming on the heels of the EA fiasco over loot boxes in Battlefront II, it was the most brazen and dumb move to date. The FAQ is hilarious.

 

Starts @10:43. Then @28:00, watch as Chris and Erin banter as if they haven’t been discussing this bullshit for months now

I had always suspected that they would do it at some point. In fact, on Nov 21st, they published a lore post which prompted me to mention, the very next day, that they were probably going to be selling land. But what I didn’t expect was for them to do it at this point in time, and well ahead of the game’s completion.

Then they did, and it all started to make sense; when you consider that they prioritized barren moons (which made their debut in 3.0) over more important features; then released it to Evocati on Oct 6th – almost a month ahead of the Nov anniversary sale. Then, right on cue, they followed that up on Nov 23rd by prematurely releasing it to the Public Test Universe (PTU), in bid to build hype for the sale which started on Nov 24th. A build which has been plagued with delays since 2016 when it was promised (if you missed it, read my Road To 3.0), and which has been a major disaster since it was released to Evocati testing back on Oct 6th.

As these things go, the media (even Rolling Stone) had a field  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,) day with this one. Kotaku had the best response by far.

Ahahahaha! Sorry, let me try that again. Yes that’s right stargazers, the good folks at Cloud Imperium Games never stop in their quest to bring you the galaxy’s greatest space gahahahahaha!

They’re selling plots of land for money! For a game that isn’t finished! And doesn’t have land claiming mechanics in it! You’d think that selling virtual land gets you somewhere near to the line of ‘money for nothing’ but how much more beautiful it is when the virtual land can’t even be claimed. It’s double virtual, what value!

Here’s how it works: you pony up £37.30 (a round $50) and get a wee beacon in return. This part is real. You stick that beacon in the middle of the land you want to claim and, if it’s not owned by someone else, it becomes yours. That bit is still theory.

Those are some brass balls alright! All the vacuum of space does is make ’em shine even brighter.

Naturally, the online forums, especially backers and gamers on Reddit (1, 2), were ablaze at this bold and brazen move, whereby literally dozens of posts popped up – everywhere.

Here’s the thing, we knew this was coming at some point down the road, either post-release, or as part of the final product release.

10 For The Chairman, Nov 24, 2014

Q: Is there a possibility that we get to choose our “home” on a planet. Let’s say for instance that one has discovered a beautiful planet and decides that he/she wants to set up camp on that planet and live there. Can we build or buy our home or hangar and place it on the planet?

Chris Roberts: We’re definitely going to let you… ah… ah… acquire REAL ESTATE on… PLANETS or LOCATIONS… not sure if it’s gonna be on every single one, you know, first it’s gonna be on some of the more developed planets that we’ll basically have hangars you can BUY or you know it’ll be a PENTHOUSE APARTMENT or something with a view that you could get, um…

Longer term we wanna have the ability, I’ve talked about some of the procedural stuff, we’ll have some new AREAS and PLANETS that people discover as they PUSH OUT and perhaps that planet is HABITABLE, there’s a colony, a settlement that starts getting placed.

Amid the lols and the outcry, what’s seemingly lost in translation is this key part of their own FAQ:

“Please Note: These claim licenses are being made available for pledging to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The ability to obtain these claim licenses will ultimately be available for in-game credits and/or otherwise earnable through play in the game. Pledging for these claim licenses now allows us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen game, and is not required for starting the game.”

Basically, having raised over $170 million Dollars, they somehow need more money to continue development. Remember that back in 2012, Chris Roberts had asked for $2M, then he got $20M, and had promised to deliver two (Star Citizen, Squadron 42) games by Nov 2014. Then having significantly increased the scope of the project, by Nov 2014, they had raised $65M. It’s now THREE YEARS later – no game of any kind exists.

FEATURE CREEP & ENGINEERING DEBT

A lot has been written about the game’s increased scope and continued feature creep. Since that very first 2015 July Blog in which I declared that they could never build the game pitched, and for no less than $150M, a capable engine, and team – they still haven’t done it. As I memorialized on the anniversary of that blog, and also in my Five Year development recap article, it is shocking to me that all this time, instead of focusing on completing a vertical slice of the product, they’re still selling in-game items, thus increasing the engineering debt and hastening the demise of the project. And that’s not just in features, but also in these ship assets, as well as the world itself. Don’t take my word for it, instead, take a look at the IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE.

FEATURE SET

Well, that one is very easy. Compare the funding goal promises, which isn’t even a complete list, to the actual complete list that’s being tracked and updated each time they add or remove something.

SHIP ENGINEERING

Next, take a look at the ship debt. A vast majority of these are barely in concept (which they sell as JPEGs) stage – with some (e.g. the 890 Jump which they again sold during this sale) having been sold over three years ago. Still not in the game.

The hilarious part is that most of those ships are too big to even fit in the game

If  it’s in Red, it’s not in the game

GAME WORLD

This one should be the most shocking, but it’s the most overlooked aspect. While CIG has been showing off inconsequential nonsense like face tracking, ridiculous procedural city demos, mocap etc, they apparently haven’t been building the actual game world they promised. There is currently only one system. You can’t go anywhere else. And 3.0 adds three, mostly barren, moons.

The game currently has 1 system and 3 moons which are in the yet-to-be-released 3.0 build

THE FUNDING CHART IS A MARKETING GIMMICK

We’ve been tracking their financial performance for years, including running analysis on their UK financials, due to them being publicly available.

Right on the heels of the disaster that was the land sale, this happened – two days in a row. And this was shortly after they extended the sale from Dec 4th to Dec 11th.

Amid that debate, as CIG has done in the past in which they react to public (especially stuff that I write) opinion & perception in the most hilarious way, it appears that they’ve done it again. Only this time, seeing that the anniversary Nov fundraising had taken a catastrophic dip, they’ve apparently done what they always do: inflate the funding chart to suspicious levels.

We’ve known for sometime now, with concrete evidence, that the funding chart is complete nonsense, designed to show backer confidence in the project, but desperation means mistakes get made. And this time, with the inflated numbers for Dec 1 & 2, they’ve made the biggest mistake yet, and completely shown their hand and added more evidence to this notion that the chart is pure nonsense.

Whales begin to panic that their dream is dying

We know it doesn’t track refunds, investor money, loans, taxes etc. CIG claims that it doesn’t track subscriptions, though that one is up in the air because it NEVER falls below a certain number – EVER.

Basically, as part of the on-going effort to mislead backers, the public facing funding chart is part of the confidence scam used to give backers a false sense of security in order to avoid panic. Like the project, it’s basically a marketing gimmick that bears very little relevance to the reality of the situation. And it’s all perfectly legal as it relates to perception.

 

I am quite certain that the US and UK corps that gave them loans, are well aware of the true financials of the company. Which is why the Coutts loan which I wrote about this past Summer, forced them to restate their earnings going back two years. How they explain to these corps the discrepancy between the funding chart and their actual financials, is the sort of thing that creative accounting is derived from.

CIG fiddles with the funding chart. Whales settle down

Multiple sources, even those who hear it through third-party within the studios, are well aware that they are financially unstable as they do NOT have the funding to complete the project. It’s not even a secret anymore. And the general belief is that the remaining whale backers who keep giving them money, are well aware that without additional funding, the entire project would in fact collapse. This despite the fact that the project has been fully funded many times over. But then again, psychological issues such as Sunk Cost Fallacy and Cognitive Dissonance, aren’t easy to overcome.

Totally normal that in 4 days, they raised what took 31 days to make in the same month the previous year

Using the funding chart as part of the confidence trick, isn’t actually illegal. Well, unless you claim that you backed or invested in the project based on that data, then it becomes false advertising, and/or quite possibly fraud. But though I have been hearing that they may get rid of it when the upcoming website revamp goes live, I just don’t see how or why they would get rid of the most important weapon in their arsenal. It’s not like they are giving backers the financial accounting they promised – and which they later removed from the June 2016 TOS revision. You know why this is relevant? Because Sandi Gardiner, wife of Chris Roberts, and the proclaimed VP of Marketing, had stated that they would be getting rid of it. Then they didn’t. That was two years ago this month.

@6:55-10:00 Sandi Gardiner, on the record in Dec 2015 about the funding chart

THE STATUS OF 3.0

As of this writing, having entered Evocati back on Oct 6th, the prematurely released to Public Test Universe (PTU) Nov 13th, it is still an unmitigated disaster. A disaster which, get this, CIG is actually charging backers $10 (by way of subscriptions) to gain access to. A game that they’ve already paid for. They did this due to there being subscriptions which they claim pay for the video series, most of which are just in furtherance of the on-going confidence trick. So if you are a concierge (aka whale) backer, or monthly subscriber, you get access to the PTU build right now – without having to wait for it to go live at some point.

Except that, by many accounts, it is literally unplayable. And we’re not even talking about the fact that it is in pre-Alpha and all that. It’s the fact that, SIX YEARS & $170 MILLION later, this is what backers have as a product.

 

Even the Evocati testers, who are currently up in arms and engaging CIG in the forum over their lack of progress, the decision to push the build to PTU etc, are still in shock at the whole thing. When you watch the few remaining streamers “playing” the game – usually alone – you are suddenly reminded that after $170M, they barely have something that qualifies for a science project or a mod that a few guys put together in a matter of months. Everything is flat out broken. Performance is in crapper. Functionality is flat-out nonexistent. The UI is shit. And forget about combat – in a game about combat. Let alone it ever being an MMO. They can’t even get 8 clients to play properly in any session, but yeah, they’re totally making an MMO.

1003 videos. 0 games

It was incredulous that having over 3000+ bugs sitting in the bug list for the 2.6.3 build released this past April, and with 3.0 having over 1000+ bugs logged since it went into Evocati on early Oct, they removed the bug count from the dev schedule. Completely. Why? Because, aside from the fact that more bugs were being added than were being completed, backers were using it as a metric to gauge the status of the 3.0 build. The last one looked like this. Then it was gone. They also removed any/all mention of the 3.1 to 4.0 builds. And they did all that ahead of 3.0 release to Evocati, and the anniversary sales. Basically now, they can release 3.0 in any state, declare it ready – and move on. Which, after the content drought for which backers made a handy timeline graphic, brings back memories of the 2.0 release disaster of Dec 2015.

While the refunds Reddit continues to set record post numbers and views, most of the backers on the official Reddit are beginning to wise up to the fact that they’ve literally been scammed, and that there is simply no version of this whereby they ever get the games promised. Which, all things considered is pretty darn hilarious.

But all of this pales in comparison to what comes next, and which should be public soon enough.

Read More: The reality (1, 2) of 3.0 from the people playing it.