Star Citizen, the massively ambitious and long-awaited space sim from Cloud Imperium Games, has seen yet another setback, as the beta for its single-player Squadron 42 campaign is being pushed back to the third quarter of 2020. Star Citizen received a lot of attention - and a staggering $2.1 million - from its Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, but since then has suffered delay after delay, making this new date change sadly predictable.
Originally slated for release in 2014, Star Citizen still has no set release date, leaving many to wonder if it will ever see the light of day. Although the full game is in limbo, parts of it are actually playable now. Cloud Imperium Games decided to split the game into several “modules” when it became clear that it wouldn’t make its initial release date, the first of which being the Hangar Module, released in 2015, which allowed players to walk around their in-game ships in first person. Since then, versions of the game’s spaceflight and first-person modes have been released and are receiving updates, but they’re still in the early stages of development and don’t constitute a full game. In that time, it's received more than $230 million for its development from players buying in-game ships that sometimes cost hundreds of dollars or paying subscriptions to access more content.
As Cloud Imperium Games explains, the delay of the Squadron 42 beta from the second to the third quarter of 2020 is part of a larger reorganization of the game’s update schedule. Until now, the developer had been focusing entirely on one content patch per quarter, but going forward, it will divide into multiple teams, each delivering a patch every six months. The teams will work on staggered release schedules, so players will still see a new patch every quarter, but each patch will have a longer development cycle, which Cloud Imperium Games says will improve their quality. As part of the schedule shuffling, Squadron 42 was pushed back 12 weeks and several smaller features were also delayed, some to an indeterminate date. The developer couldn’t confirm whether this will be the last time that the content roadmap will see such a major shakeup.
Though Cloud Imperium Games presents the news as ultimately a good thing for the final version of Star Citizen, things are looking increasingly dire for the controversial space sim. A more than seven-year development cycle is tough to take on its own, but recent reports have also alleged gross mismanagement of both funds and workflow inside the studio. It’s not clear how much, if at all, those factors contributed to this latest delay, but they do cast doubt on the health of the project as a whole.
For many people, Star Citizen seemed too good to be true when it was first announced, and it’s looking ever more like that might actually be the case. The hype around what was seen as the revival of the space sim led people to throw hundreds of dollars at virtual ships that they still can’t play with years later, and that disappointment combined with the release of similar games like Elite Dangerous has made Star Citizen seem less like the savior of the genre that they were hoping for. With up to a year to go now until even the beta of Squadron 42 is released, it’s hard to imagine any way for Star Citizen to redeem itself.
Source: Cloud Imperium Games