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Star Citizen | Pay2Win & Funding The Game

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, I wanted to discuss some bits on Star Citizen’s funding model, Pay2Win, UEC the in game currency & a few official statements CIG have made about Star Citizen recently.

UEC the in game currency can be purchased from the RSI website, this was a way to buy weapons and items for ships in game that would be permanently on your account from the website. BUT that feature has been removed and you are able to buy guns in game now with aUEC, that you can earn by just playing.
You can now melt any of the weapons or items or flair bought with UEC back into UEC.
In 3.3 coming September, Star Marine and Arena Commander the modular flight combat and FPS games will have REC rentals as part of the in game UI (you earn REC by playing those modes / they are separate from the PU).
This is all leading up to being able to buy ships in game with aUEC eventually (hopefully with 3.3)

There was up until recently there was a max cap on the amount of UEC you could buy from the website.
UEC differs from aUEC. aUEC & any purchases made with it can be wiped and reset with updates, patches and for testing VERY REGULARLY, it’s the intended in game currency until the end of alpha OR until they say, right now all the things  you do in game are now live and they will switch to UEC.
So why buy UEC at the moment? Well your UEC value is the value of aUEC you start with every reset at the moment & some players like “supporting” the game in this way too, giving a few bucks towards their dream game while also accruing some in game money for when the game releases.
There is still a max cap of 25000 UEC a day, which equates to $25.
More interestingly it’s an odd one, as we have no idea how UEC, the economy and ships prices and even time to progress are going to be balanced. I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone purchase any UEC personally AT THE VERY LEAST until the game is released OR we have an idea of it’s time value.

There were some grumbles on Reddit of “this is pay2win and will break the game”, but this is one of the main ways Star Citizen wants to fund the PU after it’s launch, while not having a subscription as well as helping regulate any Black Markets from Gold Sellers that will inevitably come along.
CIG released some statements:
“With the implementation of in-game kiosks and additional in-game shopping options, we removed the ability to buy in-game items with UEC on our website (via a section of our online store that was called Voyager Direct) and moved all UEC transactions directly into the game,”

“That’s actually a pretty big milestone and brings us closer to the final game – where you earn UEC to buy in-game items, etc.”

“Removing Voyager Direct meant we had to re-balance the economy, and with a re-balance, we wanted to offer backers the ability to ‘melt’ past item purchases made at older, unbalanced prices back to UEC to allow them to spend it on buying items in game at the new re-balanced prices. Without removing the cap, backers who were melting and re-applying funds would eclipse the overall UEC cap and be locked into their previously purchased items. So we removed the overall cap, but kept the daily cap in place to give our backers options and flexibility. This was purely a development / platform decision and has nothing to do with marketing or sales and was made to not disadvantage people that had supported us over the years. This has been the case since the release of 3.2 on June 30 and everyone seemed pretty happy with this flexibility as being able to ‘melt’ items that were purchased on Voyager Direct has been a long-term request from our community. So, it’s a bit surprising to see some people paint this as an issue now, especially considering the context of the change and the general happiness our community had with it when it was first rolled out. But, hey, it’s the internet and people have to complain about something!”

“Another thought re: ‘Pay to Win’ – what is ‘win’ in Star Citizen? We have challenges and gameplay for everything from solo players with just an Aurora to a huge org. crewing an Idris. We’re making a ‘space sim’ – I don’t even know what you would qualify as ‘win.’ That’s the whole idea: you play how you want to play, and should be able to have fun in a number of ways. Just like in real life, there are multiple paths, and your own success is really measured on a personal level. Further, there will be nothing in the game that you can only purchase with money. You can’t buy better stats or skill, we don’t sell magic kill bullets and everything that you can purchase with real money (like ships or UEC) can be earned via gameplay. By allowing people to purchase ships or a limited amount of UEC, we’re just allowing people that want to support the project a way to do it (its expensive to build a game of this scope and its expensive to run the servers that people play on), while not preventing the person that has only bought the basic game package from playing, earning and upgrading their equipment and competing with people that have spent more than them. Every persistent online game has inequality in starting assets, even if there is no ability to purchase, as people start their game careers at different times. If you join Eve or WoW right now, you don’t have the experience, stats or assets that someone that has been playing for years. We don’t see the issue with some people starting Star Citizen with different equipment, as long as everyone gets the opportunity to earn everything via gameplay, which they will.”

I don’t believe Star Citizen will be pay to win anymore than EvE online is.
You cannot argue that being able to buy money from the website isn’t pay to advantage, it clearly is.
But you could argue that you can pay to get the best gear in WoW or EvE from the Black Market if you are willing to pay.
Star Citizen’s community won’t let it become a Pay2Win nightmare. The games funding model is based on concept sales for ships though & eventually selling UEC in game will take over as it’s main funding mechanism along with game sales once the game is released.

The thing is however you argue it, is that it is too early to know. CIG are painfully aware that almost NO-ONE would be happy with a pay2win gated game. Everything will be available to obtain in game with nothing more than a starter package & you will not be gated to gameplay because of this.
We really need more of a statement or deep dive on Progression, the Economy, how much ships are intended to take to work up to for a single player.
Star Citizen’s PU is going to have a massively diverse cast of players, who all have their own “win” conditions BUT the most important thing to me is that the game is fun, playable, accessible and keeps my interest for 1000s of hours without having to buy anything more than a Starter package.

The game is going to have inequality, but for me that only helps to define the universe and makes gameplay more interesting… want a capital ship, join an Org that has one.
Crewing, manpower, being actually skilled at doing a particular job are all important tenets of the game & the 1v1 mentality of Pay2Win isn’t as applicable, it isn’t about owning a ship. However without that funding model, Star Citizen and the game it is being made into would not for been a possibility and it’s that scope and game that got me interested in the first place.
Moving forward it’s not just the devs BUT the backers & communities job to make sure that the funding model doesn’t ruin gameplay, progression, the economy & gameplay loops are all correctly balanced, it’s why I love their open development, it means that a lot of worries can be addressed BUT also a lot of criticism and outrage, a double edged sword to be sure BUT one that it is worth using.