Concerns over the status of the long awaited video game Star Citizen are growing in the wake of publisher Cloud Imperium Games offering a $27,000 bundle of starships and unique in-game content to high-end investors. Both critics of the company and players are taking the developers to task over the "Legatus Pack," which is only available to investors who have already paid at least $1000 to support the development of Star Citizen.
First announced in 2011, Star Citizen was the brainchild of legendary game designer Chris Roberts, who is most famous for his work on the Wing Commander franchise for Origin Systems. Roberts hoped for Star Citizen to be the ultimate space-themed game, mixing elements of first-person shooters, massive multiplayer online role-playing games and exploration adventure games. Star Citizen has raised $185 million through various crowd-funding initiatives over the last six years, but skeptics note that the game seems to have shown surprisingly little developmental progress in that time. A project update in 2016 announced that the game had gone into Version 3.0 of its Alpha testing mode and would be released as four smaller releases rather than one single game, though no release dates have been announced.
Polygon reported on the release of the "Legatus Pack" and some of the comments from outraged investors. Reedit poster Strykerx88, a self-described "fence-sitter" regarding the controversy surrounding the game to date, described the Legatus Pack as "ridiculous" and wondered if "maybe the guys calling this game a scam are on to something."
Star Citizen still has its defenders, however, such as Reedit member Didatctic Tomato.
“I’m tired of people calling the entire player base a bunch of suckers, or a cult or whatever. Many of us are just hopeful and excited to be able to play a space sim, but it seems like whenever people see news about this game they are ready to condemn anybody who is interested. It’s sad to see.”
It should be noted that the development of the "Legatus Pack" is nothing new. The developers previously offered a "Completionist" pack for $15,000 that offered investors every ship in the game. The new "Legatus Pack" offers the same ships, plus 163 extras, including object skins, vessel add-ons and a virtual hoard of in-game credits. Cloud Imperium Games have defended the extravagant packs as having been created by fan-demand. According to Eric Kieron Davis, the head of Cloud Imperium’s studio in Los Angeles, the publisher is just "responding to what the community asked for."
While it seems unlikely there are that many gamers ready to pony up a hefty chunk of change purely for the sake of owning everything in a video game, Cloud Imperium Games' methods are preferable to the loot box mechanics built into other games as a means of boosting profits. Unfortunately, the controversy around Star Citizen seems unlikely to be settled until the game is finally released.