For the majority of PC gamers, the name "Star Citizen" is certainly not new: the ambitious project of Chris Roberts' Cloud Imperium Games Corporation has in fact captured the public's attention since 2011, the year of development, due to the dimensional scale of the title and the combination of gameplay that the project promises, but also for its being almost completely funded through crowdfounding (started at the end of 2012) up to 288 million dollars raised with, as of 2019, no trace of a final version all horizon or the shadow of the exit from the alpha phase.
This time it is Forbes to bring attention to Star Citizen which, in conjunction with the start of the free trial week of the Alpha 3.5 build of the title, has published a report to analyze the situation of CIG and why, after all these years, the funds are winding down and the game still seems to be little more than a draft.
As often happens in works of this caliber, it is impossible to identify a single cause that can explain all the problems and obstacles that are part of the creative process but Forbes seems to have identified a critical problem in the mismanagement, inefficiency and general incompetence on the part of Chris Roberts.
The criticisms of the CEO
The CEO is in fact portrayed as not very capable of managing resources and coordinating the work environment, focusing excessive time on small details, ignoring priority areas and improvising last minute additions, leading employees to spend much of their time changing more times elements already completed.
To support the statements Forbes reports the testimonies of two former Cloud Imperium employees, who consistently with other interviews of people previously involved in the project confirm Roberts' obsessive and chaotic micromanagement and the hitches that it leads to the whole development.
The criticisms of the Crowdfunding system
The Forbes report has predictably generated controversy among the readership: on the one hand, people who believe the whole project is a big scam of empty promises, on the other, a faithful, perhaps idealistic, community that sees in the article a intentional and deliberate attack that poorly represents the actual reality.
The tone of the article is, it must be said, particularly pushed towards wanting to paint a negative picture and seems to want to lead the association of the Star Citizen case to crowdfounding in general, implying its bankruptcy fate regardless of the project and criticizing more the format of financing that actual development, so much so that many topics covered are more part of Roberts' personal and extra-working life than of his actual role as developer.
The article tries to pass its position as particularly reasoned but many times it reduces the juice of the speech to an implicit stupidity and ignorance of the public in financing projects independent of unknown destiny or normal company ups and downs: a project of this scope was destined to have a particularly long development cycle and certain problems of financial management, promotion of digital purchases for their own sake and lack of organization also involve triple A projects, although they are often kept behind the scenes, away from the spotlight and critical eyes of the gaming public especially in this genre.
Not all criticisms make sense
It must be said that the Star Citizen Alpha is actually playable and that the last period of development has been the one characterized by the most stable progress over time, and the presence of private funding and terms actually respected with a constant flow of tangible content: if the project is therefore certainly imperfect in its management, it is not fully correct to define it as the disaster that is being attempted to appear.
An actually playable Alpha, with its netcode and the contents currently present (inhabited planets, mechanics, moons, weapons, ships and cities) is not a negligible goal for an MMO that proposes a persistent multiplanetary universe with a high level graphic appearance, especially considering that CIG is working on parallel development of Squadron 42, a single player military campaign that could actually come out sooner by silencing many doubts about the project.
Impossible to take a stand
The truth therefore seems to be, as often happens, in the middle: that Roberts is an exaggeratedly ambitious visionary is a fact easily verifiable since Star Citizen is actually something "too big to be true", an image that inevitably makes a slice of the public skeptical of the whole project because it is difficult to imagine that a title of this type could actually come out.
On the other hand, the slowness of development cannot be attributed so decisively to the ever-changing ideas of the CEO when the difficulty inherent in the type of project proposed is undeniable considering the level of technologies and the scope that Star Citizen involves, which it requires. a lot of time and resources, especially if you don't want to reduce yourself to the all too common crunch for the industry and aim to release a finished product that you are fully satisfied with without presenting critical flaws.
Regardless of your expectations and the final result, Star Citizen will still be a critical point for the gaming scene: if it goes up in smoke, it will have taught the public to pay close attention and approach cautiously to titles in crowdfounding, spreading a general diffidence towards of the most ambitious and high-profile independent developments.
If it goes well, Star Citizen will represent a blow to the frenetic and hasty development environments that characterize the triple A panorama, demonstrating that the right time and the right care could, indeed, lead to the release of a quality product.