Star Citizen removes in-game currency cap, inciting “Pay to win” objections

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StarCitizen

Opinions on Cloud Imperium Games’ Star Citizen generally fall into two camps. You have the loyal backers and defenders who’ve patiently waited for it to come out, who rush into forums and comments on articles to rubbish any claims of the game or its developers’ impropriety.

Most everyone else thinks that the world’s most crowd-funded game is little more than a long con; a game so beleaguered by feature creep that it’ll either never come out or will fail to live up to its expectations when it does. It’s become increasingly difficult for those in the former camp to find fault with anything surrounding the game, thanks to confirmation biases and other bits of errors in inductive reasoning. A new change to the game’s economy has, however, riled some backers up.

It appears that CIG has removed the hard cap on stockpiling of the game’s in-game currency. While there’s still a daily limit of 25K credits per day, there’s no longer a cap on how much fake space money backers can hoard. That money can be earned in game, collected by melting down materials, or purchased with cash – which has many wondering if the game will end up being a “pay to win” mess. Of course, star Citizen has always awarded those with the most open wallets the best of the game’s ships, but this change may mean that longer-term backers could have an advantage.

Cloud Imperium has released a quite lengthy statement (via MassivelyOP) about it all, saying that the game can’t be pay to win, because it’s not a game about winning.

“…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.”

They’ve also justified the removal of the hard cap on credits. Saying it was a necessary change for the game’s economy.

“With the implementation of in-game kiosks and additional in-game shopping options, we removed the ability to buy in-game items with UEC on our website (via a section of our online store that was called Voyager Direct) and moved all UEC transactions directly into the game,” CIG told MassivelyOP. “That’s actually a pretty big milestone and brings us closer to the final game – where you earn UEC to buy in-game items, etc.”

“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 UNC 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!”

It all seems a bit of a flippant statement given many backer’s concerns. We’ll have to see how much of an impact it really has when the game is actually out of alpha – whenever that may be.

Last Updated: August 3, 2018

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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