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Ive seen a lot of people who are new to the game talking about which ships they want to buy in the pledge store or soliciting advice on which ship they should start with. I just want to give a quick reminder about what is really happening when you click the "Place Order" button.
Star Citizen has a funding model that is unique to the industry. Beyond standard pre-order packages (the Star Citizen and Squadron 42 game packages) they also have in-game items in their shop. Those items have prices that make many wonder just how dumb people can be. "$400 for an in-game item that isnt even available yet? People are crazy!" What those people forget (and probably 3/4 of the people who buy anything from CIG forget) is that you arent really buying the in-game item...you are pledging funds towards game development.
From CIG's own order page (emphasis added):
You are making a crowdfunding pledge, not a purchase!
Star Citizen is funded through a community crowdfunding effort. Your “Pledge Funds” for in-game items such as ships or weapons will be spent on the ongoing development of the game.
Welcome to open development!
Star Citizen’s Alpha releases include work-in-progress and features that have bugs which will be improved in future updates [See Roadmap]. Your pledge will grant you continued access to this process. We encourage community feedback but the decisions must ultimately rest with the developer.
All pledges are final!
For these reasons, you cannot get your Pledge Funds back even if a particular in-game item takes longer to become available, contains bugs, or undergoes design changes. By placing your order, you acknowledge that you have read, understood and accepted the above and our further Terms of Service, in particular, section Pledges.
And the linked ToS (no emphasis added cause you need to read the whole thing):
RSI is conducting a crowdfunding campaign to support the development of the Game and the related RSI Services. You do not purchase anything, you make a pledge towards the development of the Game and the other RSI Services. Your pledge entitles you to receive the selected in-game items when they are developed and introduced into the Alpha releases of Star Citizen and/or to receive the game Squadron 42, as selected.
They go on, in excruciating legalese, to inform you that:
- you didnt actually buy a ship...you gave them money to make a game
- a ship may fail to be delivered as described on the site (or even at all)
- if they fail to deliver the game you may be refunded some portion of your pledge that was not consumed in making the game (which, if they go out of business, will most likely be nothing)
- you have 14 days to get a full refund no questions asked
- subs and game packages are under a different section that basically says no refunds at all
The two most important things to understand from all this are:
It was a pledge towards making a game, not a purchase of a game item
Things can and will change as the game develops
So what exactly does that mean??? Should you not buy ships at the pledge store? Is it all a scam? Will you end up with something other than what you purchased? What if your ship gets cancelled?
First, sloooooow down. Remember the first thing they tell you over and over: You are making a pledge towards development
. Only put money into the pledge store that you are happy for CIG to use in making the game. Thats it. Dont put all your gaming money into it expecting a playable experience right now. It will have good patches (like 3.7) and HORRIFIC ones (3.0, for all the amazement that came with it, was a ROUGH patch. In fact things were terrible until client OCS)
Second, they arent kidding that things can change. Lets use the poor Redeemer and its backers as an example. It was offered as a pledge in concept after a community ship design contest as a dropship from Aegis that could provide limited fire support to a squad of troops that it could hot-insert. Eventually though the Vanguard Hoplite came out and CIG went back to the Redeemer and realized a) it was redundant in its role and b) its aesthetics were not Aegis. All those poor backers know now is that its going to be a gunship, not a dropship, and may or may not be Aegis when it finally releases.
It was first offered in concept 5 years ago and the last real update was over a year ago, when they did an about-face on what it was going to be. Its not the only ship that old to still be vapor
This is why so many people say to only pledge for things in game. They have the "im buying a spaceship" mindset (despite all warnings to the contrary) and want to get ships they can use in game now, for the current gameplay. They talk about going to the grey market for ships that arent available all the time (bad for many reasons, not just the fact you could get scammed). They compare ships and talk about spending $x more to get this or that ship for better in-game abilities.
They forgot that its a pledge...not a purchase.
The most common advice I see for new players is "upgrade your starter ship to an Aegis Avenger Titan. Its better in every way and only $20 more". I see that advice and think "why not just spend 7 days playing the game and earn it?
". It shouldnt be about what ship they want, it should be about how much they want to pledge for the game's development. If a person wants a ship, they can always earn it in game as all ships will be available in-game (as rentals or purchases with in-game earned currency) once it launches.
So how much should you pledge? I think the better question really is "what is the game worth to you?" For me its pretty simple. I looked at some of the past games Ive played and what they cost me. Probably the most Ive spent on a game was Lord of the Rings Online (yeah, yeah...i know. Not the best MMO). 5 years of subscriptions at $14/mo, the base game, and 3 expansion packs. Thats just shy of $1000. I absolutely love Tolkien, which is why I stuck with that game for so long and spent so much on it. I loved the world they were making and how close to the lore the game was.
For me, Star Citizen is a once-in-a-lifetime game that will, if they can pull it off, redefine what it means to make an open-world game (cause it will be an open universe game with many worlds to explore). I love the atmosphere of the game and its lore. I really want to see it come to fruition.
Now Im a bit older than I was when I played LOTRO, so I have more disposable income. So far Ive pledged $450+ to the game, should hit $600 this year, and plan to be well over $1000 by launch (which I expect best case to be in 2022 or 2023). Im not pledging to that level so I can have this or that ship in my "fleet", but because I know that CIG is pushing boundaries of what is possible in gaming and they have to have more talent (and more expensive talent) than most game studios. Ive also subbed from time-to-time (not consistently, sorry u/therealdiscolando
) because I love the content CIG puts out telling us about game development (the SSOCS info was enough to earn my October sub bux).
So if Im not building a fleet, what am I getting for my money? The game first, the knowledge that Im supporting the BDSSE (Best Damn Space Sim Ever) second, and finally a few ships to putter around in when it finally releases and Im too old and busy to play anymore (or, if Im lucky, when my kids are old enough to be crew in one of my ships).
To answer my original question a few paragraphs back (So how much should you pledge?), decide how much the BDSSE is worth to you first and then find something (or things) in the pledge store that make you think "oh cool" that add up to that number. If you cant pledge that amount right now, know that you will have the opportunity for a bit yet to put pledges in, so plan on when and how much you want to put toward the game.
I hope this helps you when figuring out "which ship you should buy".