Star Citizen has been on the top of some players' radars for quite some time and having been in development for so long, players have already been spewing frustration having spent an insane amount of money on in-game content already. But finally, a player has stepped forward to bring their issue with Cloud Imperium Games all the way to the attorney general and the outcome was not in Cloud Imperium's favor.
The player, who goes by the name of Streetroller, took his case with Cloud Imperium Games to the California Attorney General to make sure he could settle it. Streetroller described Star Citizen as a scam and had demanded a refund after Cloud Imperium Games deliberately changed their terms of service to make it harder for people to get refunds.
Cloud Imperium Games changed the amount of time players wait before getting a refund, and made it so that the only way to claim a refund is if Roberts Space Industries stops development. The old Terms Of Service stated you could get a refund after 18 months if relevant pledge items or the game haven't been delivered yet. So at this point, they made it almost impossible to get a refund before the game releases now, unless they call it quits.
Star Citizen has been in development for a whopping five years, with empty promises made every year to quell the frustrations of the community. Although, they have had a free fly event that allowed players to try out the game before they were putting a "split" into the packages, allowing players to buy the MMO version of the game and the single-player campaign separately. This way, with the free fly event you find out what you are getting into before pouring money into it. And with the split, once you get one package, my understanding is that the other will be $15. I don't know what the community thinks about the split yet, which occurred on February 14 this year, but to me it sounds like more opportunities to make money, especially since it's not common practice to charge player extra money to play a single-player campaign in an online game. And after beginning work on the single-player campaign and announcing the split, fans thought it was finally nearing the end, but still no release date.
Streetroller's argument included that Star Citizen remained unfulfilled and no longer constitutes the product that was originally purchased. And in a silly move, Cloud Imperium Games fought it vigorously, but Eurogamer reports that,
Streetroller wrote to California's Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the LA Department of Consumer and Business Affairs,
in which Cloud Imperium Games had to angrily cough up a refund of $2500.
Cloud Imperium tried to say their delivery dates have always been estimates and never confirmed and they even went as far to say they issued a refund not because it was owed to Streetroller, but because it was in their interest. Way to make your anger and frustration pretty evident.
But just imagine the anger and frustration of those who have been waiting five years for a game they've already poured hundreds of dollars into. Fans have actually been purchasing space ships ahead of time both in-game and on ebay to ready themselves for gameplay, but of course those are rendered useless if the game isn't completed yet.
In response to the recent refund, Cloud Imperium made sure to issue a statement about any other future attempts at refunds.
Any refunds with respect to Star Citizen are made on a discretionary basis. There was nothing special about this situation. The fact that this particular party used a complaint form that is online and openly available, doesn't make this any different.
The whole vibe from this situation with Cloud Imperium feels very negative and angry, almost like they were angry with the player for requesting a refund and even angrier that he got away with it when they had specifically tried to stop it from happening---and let everyone know they were angry. But maybe Cloud Imperium needs to take a lesson in customer service and understand their fans are frustrated and some have even run out of money, having ships sit around and collect dust while Cloud Imperium continues to make promise after promise year after year. Rather than respond with anger, like they appeared to do, they should've apologized to the customer, their fan, and offered him the refund outside of going to court. This is no way to treat your fans, to lock them in a crowd-funded nightmare for as long as you please. And now because of this situation, not only did they owe money but also lost a fan, maybe multiple fans.
According to Eurogamer's article, Star Citizen gave another excuse for the delay, saying that World Of Warcraft took four to five years to develop so this should be no different. But comparing yourself to the development of World Of Warcraft, one of the greatest and most popular online multiplayer games ever created, doesn't mean anything and was probably a bad move, because now they are claiming they are on Warcraft's level of greatness---and no one has been able to match that yet.
I unfortunately purchased Star Citizen and now wish I hadn't, but I feel sorry for those who have poured their money into fancy ships (which could equate up to thousands of dollars) and still can't use them. If I were them, I'd want a refund too. But for those who are still hanging in there and hoping for a release someday, your dedication runs very deep and I hope Star Citizen turns out to be everything you wanted it to be.