Over at Vox Popoli, Vox Day provides some commentary on the massive Star Citizen game and the troubles it is currently facing. I’ve read the linked article by Derek Smart, which I’ll discuss in a moment, but I wanted to call attention to Vox’s observation here:
But the potential problem, as I see it, is that RSI (Roberts Space Industries) got distracted by the unexpected level of success of their fund-raising efforts, and like many a charity before them, lost sight of their primary objective due to that success.
Vox is absolutely correct. Nothing succeeds quite like success, and even small successes can have an intoxicating effect on a person or an organization that can encourage them to try to go for the whole hog, even when they just needed a morsel. Star Citizen was originally imagined as something of an updated mash up of Wing Commander and Privateer, but with the massive success of the Kickstarter, the game has grown so far out of scope that is probably impossible to deliver.
Read the article Why Star Citizen is Likely Going to be a Complete Disaster for an overview from the man who knows a little bit about overhyped promises and undelivered products. And I say that without any disrespect for the guy – look up Battlecruiser 3000AD if you’re not familiar with his work. It’s quite long and filled with some technical details, but the gist of it for those who don’t have the time:
The scope of Star Citizen now far surpasses its budget and the technical capability of the project, which means there is virtually no chance of the deliverable game meeting its goals.
The implication for the entire industry, as far as Derek Smart sees it, is that Star Citizen may well be the indie game equivalent of the Titantic hitting an iceberg. Crowdfunding is already coming under increased scrutiny from regulators as backers are tired of being burned time and again by projects that fail to deliver by deadline (or at all). I’ve back a few indie games projects, and only 3 have managed to be delivered so far; and only one of them actually provided the product in the time promised. I discovered Star Citizen about a week after the initial Kickstarter had been completed and signed up for notifications from the website, but to be honest I’ve found the release schedule and business model to be confusing at best. Lack of a straightforward path to the game (Star Citizen, Squadron 42, etc) will only make things worse if none of the core modules can hit the mark they’re aiming for.
Of course, I’m bordering on concern trolling here, so I’ll end by saying this: I very much want Star Citizen to succeed. Wing Commander was one of my favorite games in the early 90s and was a large part of the reason why I’ve stayed involved with the medium and hobby for as long as I have. Chris Roberts should be respected for all of his accomplishments in the industry, but I fear that if Star Citizen goes bust, he and his company may get skewered for the failure, much 38 Studios was in 2012.