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News video games 04 May 2019, 15:13

author: Jacob Blazewicz

Forbes Criticizes Star Citizen's Developers

Forbes magazine has published an article about development of Star Citizen. The feature shows that the production of the game is not going well, and Cloud Imperium Games may run out of money soon. The reason for this is the "incompetence and poor management" of the project by Chris Roberts, who is wasting his time and resources in his studio.

Forbes Criticizes Star Citizens Developers - picture #1
The developers of Star Citizen may have some problems. Again.

Until 8th of May you can play Star Citizen for free - an ambitious project being developed by Chris Roberts and his studio, the Cloud Imperium Games. For many people this may be the first contact with the game, for the development of which the players have already donated more than 242 million dollars on Kickstarter. But if you believe the Forbes editorial team, even this impressive amount will not be enough to complete the title. The magazine accuses the creators of incompetence and poor financial management, citing, among other things, the testimony of twenty former employees of Cloud Imperium Games.

Forbes Criticizes Star Citizens Developers - picture #2
The most important information:
  • Forbes interviewed twenty former Cloud Imperial Games employees;
  • From the conducted research it appears that although the work on the games is actually progressing, the production is chaotic;
  • The main problems are caused by Chris Roberts and his obsession with irrelevant details, consuming a lot of time and money.

Chris Roberts himself, or more specifically his obsession with details, is to blame for this state of affairs. According to his former employees, the creator has a tendency to engage in work on even the smallest details. As a result, it often forces unnecessary investments, costing the team a lot of time and money. This was the case with the work on the visual effects of the ship's shields, on which one of the older graphic designers spent months on Roberts' recommendation. Moreover, many works were not approved for a long time by the lead developer. David Jennison, for example, managed to finish only five heroes as the main designer of Star Citizen, even though he had 17 months to do so. The reason - all characters had to gain the approval of Roberts, which was very problematic. Such situations are occurring on daily basis and may be the reason for delays in production.

According to Forbes, the result of these actions is the poor financial condition of Cloud Imperium Games. Forbes indicated that at the end of 2017 Chris Roberts had only $14 million on his account (via the fiscal report of the studio from December 2018). For comparison, the payouts to studio employees alone were supposed to cost 30 million dollars. It should be added that since then the number of employed artists has significantly increased. At the beginning of 2018 the team responsible for Star Citizen numbered 475 people, while the latest reports mentioned 537 developers. Forbes also points out that in September 2018, the CIG chief executive bought a house in Los Angeles for $4.7 million, suggesting that the purchase of the property was donated from the production funds of Star Citizen. Even worse, the US Federal Trade Commission has received 129 complaints against the Cloud Imperium Games, including claims for refunds of up to USD 24 000 that were spent on the game.

Forbes Criticizes Star Citizens Developers - picture #3
Star Citizen is an ambitious project. Maybe even too ambitious.

However, before we begin to express our indignation, we should pay attention to a few highly contentious issues raised in Forbes's article. Contrary to the magazine's suggestions regarding Chris Roberts' new property, the creator did not have to spend any money from the Star Citizen budget. The artist has had a relatively successful career, including the cult Wing Commander series. Sam Roberts points out that he was not only one of Origin System's leading employees (purchased by Electronic Arts for $37 million), but also had a majority stake in the Digital Anvilo studio, acquired by Microsoft in 2000. So there's no reason to believe that the developer "borrowed" the money donated to Star Citizen's production.

Forbes Criticizes Star Citizens Developers - picture #4
Chris Roberts promises a lot, but not everyone believes that his promises are true.

The allegation of a prolonged production process is also somewhat questionable, including the fact that only 87 out of 135 vessels have been completed. Indeed, the work on Star Citizen has been going on for a long time - the title was originally planned to be released in early 2015, but even today it is not expected that we will soon see the release of the full version. The only difference is that since then the project has grown immeasurably in relation to the original idea (the authors promise, among other things, a hundred star systems). There is also no lack of progress - it is enough to mention the recent update 3.5, which introduced a lot of new features to Star Citizen, including the revised flight model, the planet ArcCorp and new classes of NPCs.

Forbes Criticizes Star Citizens Developers - picture #5
Derek Smart is one of the biggest critics of Star Citizen.

This is not the first time that there have been rumours of alleged financial problems with Cloud Imperium Games. Two years ago, a sensation aroused due to reports of a loan taken out by the studio, which was supposed to indicate a lack of funds to finish the game. However, it soon became clear that this information was heavily exaggerated. Similar rumours appear on the Internet from time to time, which, combined with the controversial moves of many artists, raises doubts as to whether we will actually see the premiere of Star Citizen. Let us hope that these concerns are unfounded and that the updates to Star Citizen are worth the time and money it takes to produce them.

Jacob Blazewicz

Jacob Blazewicz

Graduated with a master's degree in Polish Studies from the University of Warsaw with a thesis dedicated to this very subject. Started his adventure with in 2015, writing in the Newsroom and later also in the film and technology sections (also contributed to the Encyclopedia). Interested in video games (and not only video games) for years. He began with platform games and, to this day, remains a big fan of them (including Metroidvania). Also shows interest in card games (including paper), fighting games, soulslikes, and basically everything about games as such. Marvels at pixelated characters from games dating back to the time of the Game Boy (if not older).