If there’s one game that has elicited nothing but love for a long time now, it’s Star Citizen. Despite the large price tags on many of the game’s biggest and baddest ships, some of which still aren’t in the game yet, over three quarters of a million people have helped contribute more than $70 million to its development, despite it still being nearly a year off from release. And yet some of that good will may be fading, as some fans have turned on a recent decision to add ship rentals to the game, a system which they say, reeks of freemium mobile titles.
While obstensibly designed to give less financially equipped players (in the reeal world) the chance to use some of the game’s fancier ships, by earning in-game currency and spending that to try a ship for a limited period of time, the problem lies with the fact that the currency is earned through combat in Arena Commander, the game’s released dogfighting module. While that might sound fine on the surface, the problem the detractors have, is that your performance is linked with the currency pay out and there’s no matchmaking, so those with better ships are earning more currency, perpetuating the cycle of people with more money performing better than those with less.
In this way they claim, Roberts Space Industries is encouraging people to spend real money, in order to earn more in-game currency and skip over a large, somewhat luck powered grind, much like freemium games do.
Fortunately for those worried about the game’s future, none of this seems likely to be malicious. In his original community address about the ship rental system, RSI founder Chris Roberts stated that he does “not want to make a game where you feel compelled to spend anything but time to continue playing.”
Still, that doesn’t help people who are frustrated now, suggesting that PvE content should also reward the in-game currency, even if it was at a reduced rate. That way people would be able to earn the currency without having to face off against better equipped players. This is made doubly worse when the rate of currency earned is low enough that it would take some players over six hours of gameplay to afford the rental on even the most basic of ships.
Chris Roberts said that he felt a little exasperated at claims that the game was turning into a grind-fest, or one with pay to win mechanics, but reminded everyone that Star Citizen is still in-development and needs lots of testing. The in-game currency, was also designed to drive people towards parts of the game that needed testing more and various ship matchups in Arena Commander were a big part of that he said. However, he did agree that a matchmaking system needed to be put into play, to avoid players simply being “put into the completely open bear it that is ranked AC games.”
That feature won’t come until after the 1.1 update though.
This leaves the community in an interesting position, as for the first time people aren’t quite as pleased with what RSI is doing. The Mittani makes an interesting point, that it may simply be people reacting to others being able to earn in-game the ships that they spent hundreds of dollars are on, and that lack of exclusivity annoys them. It could also be that people are simply starting to see that the final game won’t be entirely what they envisaged it to be all those months ago when they first dropped their money on the unreleased project.
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KitGuru says: It was bound to happen at some point. No developer can be entirely criticism free for years, especially when there’s real money involved in its development. Still, what do you guys think of the rental ship move?