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Chris Roberts addresses Star Citizen “pay to win” concerns

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Last week, changes to Star Citizen’s economy created concerns about the game shifting towards becoming “pay to win.” The removal of the UEC cap limit allows players to stockpile in-game cash, causing debates between fans over whether the change will have any meaningful impact on the game. In a new “Letter from the Chairman,” Cloud Imperium Games boss Chris Roberts addressed the “pay to win” concerns. The gist of Roberts’ argument is that Star Citizen isn’t a regular game with an end goal, so there’s no traditional “win” state. Players “win” by having fun, and they can have fun whether they shell out extra money or not.

“Developing and operating a game of Star Citizen’s ambition is expensive,” Roberts says. “From day one of the campaign we’ve been quite clear on the economic model for Star Citizen, which is to not require a subscription like many MMOs, but instead rely on sales of initial game packages and in-game money to fund development and online running costs. To ensure money isn’t a deciding factor in progression, the core principle that the game follows is that everything you can obtain with real money, outside of your initial game package, can also be earned in game via normal and fun gameplay. There will also be plenty of things that can only be earned by playing.”

Roberts uses the same argument that 2K and EA use when it comes to microtransactions that remove the grind from some of their games: it’s all down to player choice and giving players the option of paying instead of playing.

“There are two types of resource players have that they can contribute to Star Citizen to make it better: time and money. A player that has lots of time but only backed for the basic game helps out by playing the game, giving feedback, and assisting new players. On the flip side, if a player has a family and a demanding job and only has four hours to game a week but wants to spend some money to shortcut the time investment they would need to purchase a new ship, what’s wrong with that?

…People should not feel disadvantaged because they don’t have time, nor should they feel disadvantaged if they don’t have money. I want our tent to be large and encompass all types of players with varied skill sets, time, and money.”

As for players who’ll have an advantage over others because they have more money or time? Star Citizen will echo real life in that regard.

“There will always be some players that have more than others, regardless of whether they’ve spent more or played more, because people start at different times and play at different paces. This is the nature of persistent MMOs. Star Citizen isn’t some race to the top; it’s not like Highlander where “There can only be one!” It is an open-ended Persistent Universe Sandbox that doesn’t have an end game or a specific win-state. We are building it to cater to players of all skill levels, that prefer PvE or PvP, that like to play solo or in a group or a large organization, that want to pursue various professions, some peaceful and some combat orientated. This is the core philosophy of Star Citizen; there isn’t one path, nor is there one way to have fun.”

Roberts ends his note by saying that Star citizen isn’t a regular game with win and lose states; it’s a persistent universe, where players win by having fun. Even if that fun costs then thousands of dollars.

“This may be a foreign concept to gamers as the majority of games are about winning and losing, but Star Citizen isn’t a normal game. It’s a First Person Universe that allows you to live a virtual life in a compelling futuristic setting. You win by having fun, and fun is different things to different people.”

Last Updated: August 6, 2018

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