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Star Citizen’s employees have gone public with the project’s troubles. Fund mismanagement, discrimination at the workplace, and an unknown future for the game is quite real. Chris Roberts, the creator of the game, had his own responses.
Star Citizen is the most successfully crowdfunded game to be incepted. In October of 2012, Star Citizen began its Kickstarter, and within the month it raised over $2 million which completely surpassed it’s original stretch goal of $500,000. After that, through other methods of crowdfunding, the campaign managed to reach $49 million, and to this date close to $90 million has been raised.
Stretch Goals and Ambition
Cloud Imperium Games has previously claimed that the high cost of stretch goals was implemented so that they could meet the November 2014 deadline to release the game while continuing to add extra content. In the Star Citizen FAQ on their Kickstarter, it said that without the additional funding they would have to create each part of the game individually, instead of as one single large production. And with this they can add more ships, systems, animations, cinematic sequences, and unique locations.
However, sources have stated that after a certain point, Star Citizen was no longer about the actual game and became more about the campaign. So they lost there way after a while, especially when all the money started to come in.
According to a number of former employees and industry veterans, Star Citizen has obtained its level of popularity because what they are attempting to do, has never been achieved. One of them said, “$90 million for what he’s (Chris Roberts) pitching, even with a competent leadership, you couldn’t do. The thing you have to remember about Chris Roberts is that, before this, he hadn’t made a game in 12 years. He has no concept of what can and can’t be done today with that amount of money, or for a game like this. Chris Roberts hadn’t made a game in 12 years, and he was actively ignoring the input of people who have been in and a part of the industry that entire time.”
Chris Roberts responded to this with, “How do you or they know this? Which employees said this and what makes them qualified to make that judgement? I know it’s what Derek Smart loves to say but he couldn’t make a good game with $200m so I don’t think his opinion matters. Outside of that, no employee beyond me and a few other key people who are leading Star Citizen would have the appropriate information and overview to make any judgement about the cost of the total project. Secondly, the company uses additional sources of funding such as tax incentives, marketing and product partnerships, but we do not discuss these issues in public for obvious reasons. We always keep a healthy cash reserve and operate our business prudently based on the incoming revenue. It should tell you something that we are actually increasing our global headcount not decreasing it.”
Toxic Work Environment
Sources said that Cloud Imperium Games’ environment was full of a lot of screaming, insults, cursing, racism and stress that manifested itself into physical illnesses for some people.
One particular source said that the job was affecting his health and home life in such a negative way he had to quit even without a job lined up. It was the most toxic environment he ever worked in. There was no real direction and things would blow up all the time.
It was claimed that Sandi Gardiner, Roberts’ wife and Vice President of Marketing for Cloud Imperium, enforced discriminatory hiring practices. Sources have said that race was a factor in selecting employees and Gardiner was once heard saying, “we aren’t hiring her. We aren’t hiring a black girl.”
It was reported that Roberts and Gardiner misused company funds for things such as personal vacations, or to pay off their cars. Sources have also said that the company hired “big-name Hollywood actors” to do voice-overs for commercials which was unnecessary money being spent. Roberts begs to differ and believes that it was spent in good use.
A source said that they already spent $82 million and all they have to show for it is a demo, racing demo, a single FPS level and a little area where you can walk around. So what is this achieving? This is why people think Cloud Imperium Games continues to look for additional funding.
Lack of Progress
Three former employees who quit voluntarily, said that they were spending more time creating material for fundraising instead of gameplay. A source said that it wasn’t about the game anymore, it was just about what was on the screen behind Roberts during his presentation. Though Roberts responded by saying that there hasn’t been a commercial in a year and the commercials were used to further the game progress.
A common theme among the sources is that they believe Roberts is a visionary but not a true leader, and how he thinks he’s a genius but in reality he’s just a conman or a salesman. Roberts response to this was that they are just disgruntled ex-employees and backers continue to visit the offices all the time and have a good impression of Star Citizen. Even with that, many people believe it still is not going to turn into anything… We will have to wait and see who is right and who’s wrong.