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Old 11-01-2016, 04:25 PM
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voltaire is offline
Join Date: Aug 1999
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
In short, because the business model smells terrible.

You're correct in that very large games take a long time to develop. "BioShock Infinite" took five years to make, to use a big-budget example. Big things take a long time to make. You can't make a big budget movie in a couple of months, either. Now, Star Citizen is at five years and doesn't appear to be close to release, but let's assume a game of this ambition takes seven years, or whatever. It's not that I find dubious, it's that it's being funded exactly the way you would fund a scam.

The thing is, BioShock Infinite - or GTA V, or any other big game - were not funded in development by having the prospective customers pay hundreds of dollars for pictures of imaginary ships. They were funded by soberly run companies that expected a return on their investment. Companies that, if they were not given material evidence of progress towards a sellable product, would cheerily kill the program and fire the developers.

Yes, I know Kickstarter and the like are a new way of looking at project development, but as you well know this is now way past that sort of thing where you get people to chip in ten bucks to a little project. This is on a different plane. The manner on which Star Citizen earns its money is precisely the manner in which a Nigerian 419 scammer earns their money; it is following the path of a confidence trick.

1. An amazing treasure is promised (in this case, what would in theory be the greatest PC game ever made.)

2. The mark is invited into the confidence of the scammer. They are told they can be special and different - a member of the Squadron, possessed of special things the newbs won't have, and all that sort of thing.

3. Props and razzmatazz are used to convince the mark of the reality of the treasure (demos, the fancy website, pictures of ships, technical requirements and the other traits of a large budget video game.)

4. The mark is asked for a small investment.

5. Once the mark has invested some money, promises of progress towards the treasure are made. As progress is made, the mark is asked for more money, with explanations as to why the money is needed. (In this case, "Stretch goals.")

Obviously this isn't a perfect analogy, because in a classic confidence scam you would not know the actual identity of the scammer and his shills. I really don't think Chris Roberts is out to scam anyone, but the way in which his company is draining the same people for money based on the promise of virtual treasures is indicative of a situation where Mr. Roberts is in serious, serious trouble and he knows it. Perhaps not legally - I am sure they've got their bases reasonably well covered - but businesswise this has every indication of being a case where a business incapable of completing the job has gotten themselves in over their heads.

I have a lot of trouble coming up with any other logical explanation as to why Roberts has reached the point where he's asking hard core marks for $750 for an imaginary ship. (And I do mean imaginary; the "Polaris" ship is just a picture, not actually a thing they've built in the game.) A legitimate business enterprise doesn't keep asking for donations from customers based on empty promises; a legitimate business enterprise finds money from legitimate revenue streams, investors, or loans. There is nothing about the "please give us a lot of money and I promise one day you might have this awesome, awesome ship that presently is not remotely close to being a thing" pitch that should inspire confidence. Everything about that says "This is a business in desperate, desperate trouble."
Adding to all that, there's also an element of MLM-marketing at work, as shown by the OP of this thread.