Welcome to some more Star Citizen, today I wanted to talk about CIG’s plans to change the way they do concepts ship sales and a move to have many more ships straight to flyable.
Current Concept Process
The current process for and funding model for Star Citizen is massively reliable on ship sales as well as ideas / plans for ships known as concept sales. The role, intention and basics of the ship will be planned out, the internals will be roughly blocked out, the look of the ship will be represented with some 2d art. This process has got a lot more refined & thorough over the years. Earlier concepted ships had to have reworks and re-concepts as they were not built correctly to metrics or didn’t meet the needs of the game / role they had intended.
Now they much more fully build out the internals before declaring a ships size, which is why we saw ships like the Orion planned earlier on, double in size as well as the Idris grow in size to a Frigate.
These ships or vehicles go on sale at that early stage, with perks for players that buy them at that early stage, they may be cheaper than when the vehicle is in game, you can get LTI, flair items at that sort of thing.
Eventually all of these get added to the game and they will be available to buy in game with in game money.
In fact in 3.6 they have added a ship purchase kiosk which will allow access to purchase many more ships in Star Citizen than have been previously available.
There is also a more affordable option coming in a 3.6.x patch a little later allowing for ships to be rented in the PU as well.
The idea of those concept sales is to fund the development of Star Citizen & Squadron 42 as well as providing access to those ships at the earliest possible stage (and minor perks) for players that purchase them.
There are problems with concept sales & their process
They take time to get the vehicle in game, this can take years.
The Intention of the vehicle can change & cause annoyance from backers that don’t like those changes. People have different visions of how it should work or how a vehicle is going to perform or be utilized.
The Game does not have the mechanics to support some ships, this can cause ships to come out with extremely limited functionality.
The Core Mechanics are still being put into the game, balance, flight model, physicalized components, gameplay mechanics also because of this you’ll see only a single ship sometimes be able to use a mechanic in game like the Prospector and mining at the moment, this makes the game look gated to entry by $$$ (even though the Prospector is available to purchase in game with in game money too)
Straight to Flyable
We have been seeing various ships go straight to flyable last year being the Valkyrie DropsShip & Arrow Light Fighter. Both very developed very cool ships, in 3.6 the Valk gets the addition of being able to take cargo & that’s a good example of Star Citizen’s constant evolution and iteration even with “finished” ships. The community requested that it be given a cargo grid… as it didn’t make sense for it not to have one.
Recently Chris Roberts Announced a longer term goal of straight to flyable & moving away from concepts.
There are vehicles and ships not on the roadmap that will go on sale & will be available in game over the next few quarters.
There is a long term goal is to move towards more straight to playable vehicles.
They will have a mixture of concepts and straight to flyable in the mid term.
There are limitations due to staff that are able to work on ships/vehicles, though they are recruiting more devs for the vehicle team.
Straight to Flyable not not Exclude a Sale
This change does not mean they will necessarily stop selling ships for money… in fact I actually think they will potentially make more monies as players are able to immediately use their purchases and may be more comfortable buying.
One of the reasons they may be moving away from concepts is because of the new Manufacturer Ship Customizer.
CIG recently released a new customization system for the 300 series of ships, that allows you to customize a ship at time of purchase with different paint jobs inside and out, flair items, different cockpit items as well as weapons and equipment loadout changes.
Some of the color changes are free BUT there are a lot of options that are basically upselling the cost of ships.
Eventually that will also be available in game too and there will also be more in depth aftermarket customization.
But they are going to be rolling this customizer out to more and more ships and it’s quite possible that they will as part of the evolving ship pipeline make ships that become flyable ready for this form of customization. It just makes them more money… also with modular ships and large room changes these could really push up prices for backers with disposable income to splash out on ships.
Another reason they may be moving towards a straight to flyable model is because they may have lots of ships & vehicles ready or near ready that they want to release to the PU in steps already.
There are a lot of Vehicles for Squadron 42 for the Vanduul and UEE that are not yet in the PU and have never been sold – The Cydnus Spider Miner, F8C Lightning, Titan ExoSuits…. Even the big boy Bengal Super Carrier.
As well as most likely as stated earlier ships and vehicles that are not shown on that roadmap that are coming with Squadron 42.
We Are Still Having Concept Sales for the Short Term at Least!
We are are still going to see concept ships for the foreseeable future BUT we are likely to start to see more and more straight to in game ships and vehicles from now on until they potentially phase them out.
This is something I am not entirely keen on, I really like seeing the development process at the earliest possible stage. The conversations and discussions around Concept Ships and their mechanics can be interesting, community building and help the devs evolve those ships and mechanics. The process actually looks to me light we are getting less… they are obscuring those phases from us. That might be partly due to the criticisms that CIG gets that they are selling jpegs and people annoyed that their ship isn’t in game yet, this new method would potentially avoid that.
CIG have not confirmed their monetization model for the future and after “release” of the game beyond they will consider sensible options based on their needs.
There hope was that they can monetize by just selling game packages and a limited amount of in game currency, though I suspect there at the very least will be the continuation of voluntary subscriptions, merchandise & maybe flair items.
They could very well sell new straight to flyable ships with customization as well, allowing players to get them at the earliest possible stage in the same way Warframe does new Warframes… Just a thought, as their actual future strategy remains unknown until they do it.
But what do you think? Do you think moving away from concepts to straight to flyable is a good thing? Do you think that they will still have successful sales with straight to flyable stuff?