Star Citizen creator Cloud Imperium Games has returned almost $3,000 to one of its crowdfunders after US authorities became embroiled in a battle over the game’s terms of service agreement.
User Streetroller contributed $2,550 to the campaign for the ambitious sci-fi project when it was first announced, but later changed their mind as development dragged on and contacted CIG for a refund (via Imgur).
The studio denied the request, citing its terms of service agreement’s statement: “For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of [Roberts Space Industry’s] good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items."
CIG itself added: “You made your pledge to the crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the development of Star Citizen. When you contributed your pledge it was applied to the building of the game and the team and resources needed to make it happen.
“It would not be appropriate to use our current backers’ development pledges to refund an earlier pledge which has already been used for Game Cost. Put simply, ‘takebacks’ are not in the spirit of crowdfunding.”
Streetroller retorted that Star Citizen “remains unfulfilled and no longer constitutes the product(s) I originally purchased” – mentioning the title’s original release date of November 2014 – and eventually elevated the argument by getting in touch with the California Attorney General, FTC and DCBA.
They added their belief that the game’s terms of service had been changed since they were first introduced, and he had subsequently not agreed to the altered rules. Adding to their argument was the clause in the initial ToS that refunds could only be issued 18 months after the estimated release date – in this case, May 2016.
Within a week, the player had been given $900 of their original pledge back, which was later followed by the remaining $1,650.
CIG released a statement explaining that it was not legally required to refund Streetroller, but had granted the return as a goodwill gesture.
“Having reviewed complainants interactions with our customer service agents, we have determined that it is also in our interests to terminate his participation in our fundraising community,” it said. “We are therefore agreeing to close complainant’s account permanently and we will issue a refund of his pledge promptly.”