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Star Citizen prompts pay-to-win concerns after removing in-game currency cap

Developer Cloud Imperium Games has come under fire for its decision to remove the cap on the amount of in-game currency that players could accumulate in Star Citizen, with suggestions that the game is now pay-to-win. Although the amount of United Earth Credits (UEC) that players can purchase with real money is still capped at 25,000 UEC a day, there is nothing stopping those with spare cash from amassing as much as possible prior to release, giving them “outright control” over the economy.

United Earth Credits aren’t usable within Star Citizen currently, making the existence of UEC on the store questionable in itself, let alone removing its previous 150,000 UEC cap. UEC won’t solely a premium currency, with Star Citizen eventually affording players the ability to amass Credits by completing missions in-game which has been trialled by the introduction of alpha United Earth Credits (aUEC).

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When the game launches, players will get their share of purchased UEC in one big chunk, with members of the community who valued the cap, believing it prevented any one player from controlling the economy by driving inflation up and down. While this move has been pegged as ‘pay-to-win’ by critics, Cloud Imperium Games co-founder Chris Roberts disagrees.

“Star Citizen isn’t some race to the top; it’s not like Highlander where ‘There can only be one!’,” Roberts explains in the letter. “It is an open-ended persistent universe sandbox that doesn’t have an end game or a specific win-state. 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.”

Specifically, Roberts expresses his bewilderment that players would dub the hoarding of in-game funds as pay-to-win, yet be fine with the ability stockpiling of expensive ships or items. The problem with this, however, is that access to better ships in return for real cash has been blasted since Star Citizen’s original crowdfunding as a potentially pay-to-win move, giving players that pump more money into the game an advantage in player-versus-player (PvP).

Of course, PvP makes up just a small amount of the game and can be avoided, but should players who don’t want to pay more into a game they already own be forced to forgo elements based on unfair advantages their opponents have gained with the use of real-world money? That’s exactly where the definition of pay-to-win stems from, and one which likely won’t leave Star Citizen moving forward.

KitGuru Says: I do find it questionable that a game with no use for the currency would make it available to purchase, particularly when Star Citizen remains in alpha and UEC is a planned launch feature. As for concerns of an unfair advantage, the game’s PvP was already tainted by pay-to-win and the removal of this cap has the potential to damage PvE too by handing economic control to the rich. How do you feel about Star Citizen’s pay-to-win accusations?

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