Games outlet The Escapist recently ran a piece on Star Citizen and its development, outlining a toxic work environment, and an arrogant management, and tying it all together to the game’s protracted development cycle.
As much as one might be tempted to latch on to these reports, however, it appears they are unsubstantiated- Chris Roberts, Chairman of Star Citizen development studio Cloud Imperium Games (and also the man behind the classic Wing Commander games), has issued a response to the report posted by The Escapist, dismissing the sources the site used as a basis for their piece; he has also questioned the ethical integrity of the site.
It’s a very scathing and damning email, and it appears Roberts may have reason to be angry- for instance, it has now come to light that some of the sources used in this report were in fact lifted from company review site Glassdoor, which allows anonymous users to post unverified reviews of businesses online. The interesting part here is that these reviews on Glassdoor all seem to have gone online just a few days before The Escapist published its piece.
Roberts’ response also takes issues with other allegations made in The Escapist’s report, allegations which do not source back to Glassdoor. These allegations, Roberts says, come from Derek Smart, President of independent game developer 3000AD, who appears to have a vendetta against CIG and Roberts, owing to him being behind a similar game as Star Citizen.
“[Derek Smart] is the same person who wrote a letter to Origin and me after Wing Commander was out claiming that we were infringing on his game and we had to cease publishing it or he would sue us. We told him we never heard of him and good luck with that. He never sued. His game was, of course, the now infamous Battlecruiser 3000AD that would take many more years to come out (I think I shipped four Wing Commanders before his game came out).”
Roberts says he has proof of this too, in spite of any claims The Escapist might make to the contrary- a lot of the things that are in the report seem to be quoting rants made by Smart before outright.
“I know you say that “none of these come from Derek” but we both know that’s not true. You are quoting the exact same things in your email he has spewed in his blogs and twitter for months. If you want me to give you links to the exact same claims (which are patently UNTRUE) I can but we both know it’s coming from him and the few people he’s rounded up.”
Roberts continues: “We are a company of 261 employees spread across two continents and four development studios. With a company our size there will definitely be a few unhappy ex-employees – the same would be true of any large organization – we have built up quickly and not everyone is a superstar or fits in with the culture. We have parted ways with a few people over the past couple of years, not all of them amicable, and it is alarming to feel like there is a one sided piece that will be filled with complaints of people who aren’t part of the project for a reason. As long as I’ve made games, especially on large projects this has always been the case and it shouldn’t be news.”
What a mess. I am not even sure why this is news in the first place. Yes, this is a big game, and a massive undertaking, and yes, such a project may lead to stressful work conditions. This is not new, and nor is it reflective of what the quality of the game will be- remember, Red Dead Redemption was apparently developed in an environment of constant crunch, and yet is was one of the best games of last generation.
Star Citizen will launch exclusively for PC.