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[RESOLVED] Communication with CIG to request full refund

Hydro9268 Jul 18th, 2015 (edited) 1,595 Never
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  1. MY FIRST MESSAGE SEND TO CLOUD IMPERIUM GAMES REQUESTING A FULL REFUND (July 13, 2015)
  2.  
  3. Hello.
  4.  
  5. I have been a veteran backer since January 22, 2013. I have backed for $930 (just $70 shy of concierge service). I am officially asking for a refund of my money for several reasons. The reasons are below.
  6.  
  7. FINAL COST ____________
  8.  
  9. During several interviews, one with Kickstarter and another with Forbes (which I will include later), Chris stated the kind of game he wants to make will cost $20 million dollars (his words). I watched these interviews and based my backing dollars on what Chris said. In other words I took Chris at his word.
  10.  
  11. "the game on the low side was going to be about 14 million dollars to make and the high side, which is where we are at now, is going to be about 20 million"
  12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vzlda0-XoY&t=490
  13.  
  14. Why is this an issue? When I finally decided to back, the project had amassed well over $5 million (double the Kickstarter amount). $20 million felt like a large number but it also felt achievable based on the growing excitement and buzz surrounding the project. However once $20 million was reached - to the great delight of backers - the project blossomed out of scope exponentially. For example the stretch goal at $20 million was the FPS addon; an out-of-scope perk. It seemed that at every million the scope kept getting worse. Somewhere around $27 million dollar I kept saying to myself, "Chris. What are you doing? Chris? Stop!" But he didn't. I never voiced these opinion because I still had faith in Chris.
  15.  
  16. TIME AND DELIVERY ____________
  17.  
  18. Forbes did a very good interview with Chris about Star Citizen's crowdfunding success. The video interview shed more light on deliverables.
  19.  
  20. https://youtu.be/hYFCfRK4e6Y?t=19m38s
  21.  
  22. Forbes reporter Erik Kain asks Chris at 19:38: To round things out, you have about 9.5 million dollars in crowdfunding, new offices, what's the road map from here? Where do you go for the rest of 2013? Where will you be next year?
  23.  
  24. Chris Roberts replies: So one of things we're doing that I think is different from every other crowdfunded game that I've seen out there - although I could be corrected - is that we're approaching the development process in terms of what our backers get differently. We're sort of approaching it, because Star Citizen is pretty big and pretty ambitious game - I mean it's going to cost 20 million dollars plus by the time its all finished (Here again Chris is doubling down on his $20 million dollar commitment). What we're doing is essentially taking components of functionality in the game and we'll be splitting them out and letting the community - the backers - interact, use them, play with them before the final game is all brought together.
  25.  
  26. In Star Citizen it's easy to do than say some other games because things are more discreet; when you're in space than when you're down on the planet. So our road map is:
  27.  
  28. - This August (2013) we're going to release the Hangar module, which we will release at GamesCom. The Hangar module allows everyone that's backed to go into the engine, see their ships, walk around their ships with their avatar; get inside, check it out. Invite their friends to their hanger (never happened; still not available) to check their ships out and do some level of customization (again, did not happen). And we'll be adding more customization functionality as time goes on.
  29.  
  30. - And then at the end of December (2013) we'll release the dog fighting module; which will allow you to take the ship that you backed that's sitting in your hangar, [and] go into space in a head-to-head deathmatch against other players or AI. Think of that as a sort of a MOBA-like experience.
  31.  
  32. (at 22:24) This iterative development process hopefully will allow us to polish and test things along the way because normally you work on a game for 2-3 years and then you "throw it over the fence" (release it) there's all these features and functions and of course things go wrong because it's a very complicated ...
  33.  
  34. ... (at 23:52) he comes back to his road map ...
  35.  
  36. - In the following year (2014) we'll release the plant side module which will be the social module where you go into bar, talk to people to buy and sell stuff, and upgrade your ship.
  37.  
  38. - Then a single player game (Squadron 42 module)
  39.  
  40. - And finally (2014) a beta of the persistent universe which is essentially bringing all these things into one holistic piece.
  41.  
  42. - And then we'll go live after the beta which I would anticipate would be sometime in early 2015. But essentially from the end of 2014 you should be able to play the full game but it will just be beta because there will still be things to tweak and balance. We'll try and keep the player-base constraint until after we've gone through beta because it's not really a beta if you've got a million players.
  43.  
  44. This interview and many like it is one of the main reasons I backed for so much. Again, I took Chris at his word.
  45.  
  46. KICKSTARTER SCOPE ____________
  47.  
  48. The game Chris pitched on Kickstarter is a much smaller game. Basically I was looking for a Wing Commander / Privateer / Freelancer clone with modern graphics and that's the game Chris pitched. That's the game I backed. That's the game Chris said would cost $20 million to make, not once but numerous time (I quote two examples above). Star Citizen today is not the same game. It has NO FINAL COST because it is 4x what Chris said he needed. Basically I have no clue as to what game Chris is making.
  49.  
  50. FTC GUIDELINES ____________
  51.  
  52. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/trouble-crowdfunding-next-big-tech-gadget-180951754/?no-ist
  53.  
  54. "The Federal Trade Commission makes and enforces rules to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive business practices, and its consumer protection principles apply to crowdfunding sites in the same way they apply to things like catalogs, direct mail and TV commercials, according to Helen Wong, an attorney with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Sellers can’t make deceptive representations, and they have to fulfill promises they’ve made to consumers, for starters."
  55.  
  56. Chris promised a finished game by 2015; not what we currently have. In fact what we have was not even part of the original Kickstarter pitch:
  57.  
  58. - Arena Commander: $16 million stretch goal. "Arena mode: The next generation of Wing Commander’s TrainSim allows pilots to test out their combat skills against friends or strangers in a simulation. Gain valuable combat experience without the downside of losing your ship in the game universe! Place bets on competitions across the galaxy."
  59. - FPS module: $20 million stretch goal. "First person combat on select lawless planets. Don’t just battle on space stations and platforms… take the fight to the ground!"
  60.  
  61. YOUR PLEDGE ____________
  62.  
  63. https://robertsspaceindustries.com/the-pledge
  64.  
  65. In the years since backing I was never told the truth by Chris through proxies of interviews he's given in written and video form. In fact 95% of the $930 I backed was solely based on two untruths: how much money Chris needs to make his game ("$20 million") and how long the game would take to make ("But essentially from the end of 2014 you should be able to play the full game").
  66.  
  67. REFUND AND MILLIONAIRES ____________
  68.  
  69. I read a post on r/StarCitizen that says you gave Derek Smart, who is a multi-millionaire, back his $250. I don't have millions of dollars and yet I backed for nearly 3x more than he did. $930 is a lot of money for me. Please, for the sake of ethics may I have my money refunded?
  70.  
  71. If you got this far, thank you so much! I do apologize for the length. Again, I just wanted convey my message more clearly.
  72.  
  73. Sincerely,
  74. -Ryan
  75.  
  76.  
  77. -------------------------------------------------
  78. REPLY TO MY FIRST LETTER FROM HENRY DAVIS (A CUSTOMER SERVICE REP AT CLOUD IMPERIUM GAMES) (July 15, 2015)
  79.  
  80.  
  81. Hello, HyraClawe. Thank you for getting in touch with Cloud Imperium Games.
  82.  
  83. I was going over your request, and while we do consider refunds, these are reviewed on a case by case basis. Generally, we would only ever offer them under exceptional circumstances and as such, they are never something we can promise or guarantee outright.
  84. Before we take your request into further consideration, I was checking your pledges and it would appear that most of them are approaching nearly a year old or going well over. Typically we can only consider such refund requests if they are requested within a 14 day period.
  85.  
  86. Before we continue on with that, I was reading over your reference to the interview Chris Roberts had with Forbes. Before I was employed by CIG, I was backing this game also from a very early point, and saw the same interview.
  87.  
  88. So, speaking to you as a backer this was only ever the scenario assuming that the stretch goals stopped at that point. The idea was that as more goals were met, the more the game could grow and expand into something bigger and better. Right from the get go Chris mentioned in his pitch. "I don't want to build just a game, I want to build a universe"
  89.  
  90. This sentiment is echoed on this page: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/about-the-game/spaceflight
  91.  
  92. This was always the dream he had set, and the success of crowd funding has made that more attainable. Originally it was only ever going to be just Squadron 42, with a very limited multiplayer platform. While a base structure of the game would of been achieved, it was not fulfilling the vision.
  93.  
  94. I feel I should also mention that as a backer, and as someone who has been very involved with the community, this is also what a majority of backers wanted. The Best Damn Space Sim ever, not something that was half finished, or half realized of what it was supposed to be.... (through lack of funding, pressure to release, or otherwise.) One of the core values this project retains is that this is the game we have all wanted to play, and I believe that is why it has been so successful in its crowd funding.
  95. Also consider that most AAA grade titles are headed by publishers who keep the game behind closed doors, and don't even announce it's existence until the game is about 75% along the way of being developed, and usually make an appearance as E3 shows with a trailer. Star Citizen has been on the radar since it was announced, and while it may seem like it is taking a long time to make, it is on good schedule.
  96.  
  97. Games like Destiny, took over 7 years to build, and you only became aware of it when it was a few months off release. Publishers also need to meet deadlines to appease investors who provide funding for the games development, and this can compromise the artistic vision of a game, and overall affect the quality of its development and production.
  98.  
  99. At CIG, we don't have have to answer to a publisher, and that puts us in a very unique position in being able to take the time to do things that a publisher would not allow. Our developers can take time in developing high quality assets, and get it completely solid before publishing it. We also polled the community if they would prefer seeing something rushed out as soon as possible, or taking the time to get it to its best. The vote over all was a landslide for getting the quality at its best before release.
  100. From what feedback, this is the philosophy we have adopted with our production.
  101.  
  102. As for the dates mentioned, yes those were not accurate but they were intended as projections, not stamped out release dates. As is typical in the gaming industry delays, rotation of staff, and projecting dates is standard par. As a former employee of Blizzard Entertainment, I can say this with the up most clarity.
  103.  
  104. I hope this helps shed some light on the topic for you, and I conclude with providing you this link, which I recommend reading: https://forums.robertsspaceindustries.com/discussion/271173/some-thoughts-on-concerns/p1
  105.  
  106. Let me know how you feel after reading this, and if you still wish to pursue a refund, let me know. Please note though that your pledges are a year old or over, so this may be unlikely. I will escalate your request to the manager while you are reading the post I linked, and if you still want a refund then I can inform you of the decision made.
  107.  
  108. See you in the verse!
  109. Kraiklyn
  110.  
  111.  
  112. -------------------------------------------------
  113. MY FOLLOW-UP RESPONSE (July 16, 2015)
  114.  
  115. Thank you Kraiklyn.  
  116.  
  117. Quote: Before we take your request into further consideration, I was checking your pledges and it would appear that most of them are approaching nearly a year old or going well over. Typically we can only consider such refund requests if they are requested within a 14 day period.
  118.  
  119. As a veteran backer it would only make sense that most of my ships were early in the project and during a time I believed CIG could deliver on what was promised, on the dates specified, and for the money that Chris said he needed to make the game. In other words I backed for a tangible delivery not a pie-in-the-sky dream that Star Citizen is today.
  120.  
  121. In my previous message I summarized my main points for requesting a refund. "In the years since backing I was never told the truth by Chris through proxies of interviews he's given in written and video form. In fact 95% of the $930 I backed was solely based on two untruths: how much money Chris needs to make his game ("$20 million") and how long the game would take to make ("But essentially from the end of 2014 you should be able to play the full game")."
  122.  
  123. When talking about Star Citizen to Forbes, Kickstater and other media outlets in the early campaign, Chris was making overt forward-looking statements. Wikipedia defines these statements as, "Under U.S. law, section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, businesses must comply to standards of communication that limit risk factors. These acts were put into place partially to protect investors from ambiguous language, preventing them from making a poorly informed investment decision based on speculative statements." My multiple investments from 2012 until 2014 were based entirely on what Chris told those media outlets.
  124.  
  125. Please understand, I do not have any negative views of the Star Citizen community. The statements above only apply to me and my perception of what Chris explained the project to be from the outset. A company with such a committed following, as Star Citizen has, should not fear honoring a legitimate refund request from one investment backer.
  126.  
  127. I would like to proceed forward with a refund for everything; all $930 dollars invested.
  128.  
  129. -Ryan
  130.  
  131.  
  132. -------------------------------------------------
  133. CLOUD IMPERIUM GAMES FINAL REPLY TO MY SECOND LETTER TO HENRY DAVIS (July 17, 2015)
  134.  
  135.  
  136. Hey again, Hydra Clawe.
  137.  
  138. I apologise for the "solved" case. I was unaware how much time you were going to take to think about it. :(
  139. I was checking out your pledges to investigate for a refund and they appear to be well over a year old. Now typically we need to be within a 14 day period as mentioned in my previous response.
  140.  
  141. With your case I approached the manager on your behalf and highlighted your case in particular. Unfortunately we are unable to offer any exceptions to the 14 day rule. These pledges are simply too old. I am very sorry, and I know this isn't what you were hoping for, but this is the decision that has been made.
  142.  
  143. I understand your doubts and concerns, but ultimately delays in the gaming industry are normal. I used to work for Blizzard Entertainment, and even they had delays in production for expansions. Be it because of some problematic code, or something needing a design pass redone.
  144.  
  145. The only reason CIG is getting more noticed on delays is because we have an open development process. I can assure you, as someone who has worked in the industry for a while, this is standard par. It does not reflect at all the outcome of the game, or our ability to deliver it. For example, the FPS has only been delayed by a few weeks. Not "Indefinitely" which is what is being banded around by the media.
  146.  
  147. As for the cost of the game, we never predicted the scope of success the crowd funding would generate. We initially projected for 2 million, which climbed to 20 million. However, we started going well beyond that, and this enabled a bigger scope which was always the idea. I am not sure how being able to make a bigger and better game, compared to the initial limited vision could be seen as negative, which is something you have highlighted as being an issue or "untruth" but the scope of the game does not in any way compromise our ability to deliver it.
  148.  
  149. A lot of assumptions have been made, and this has been taken as truth at face value, which is unfortunate. So I understand you may have lost faith in this kind of environment. We are going to be showing off some pretty amazing progress and content to our backers at GamesCom in the coming weeks, and I would recommend checking out this page here:http://www.pcgamer.com/star-citizen-dev-promises-incredible-progress-in-the-next-few-weeks/
  150.  
  151. See you in the verse!
  152.  
  153. Kraiklyn
  154.  
  155.  
  156. -------------------------------------------------
  157. POST COMMUNICATION THOUGHTS (July 18, 2015)
  158.  
  159. Quote: "Unfortunately we are unable to offer any exceptions to the 14 day rule. These pledges are simply too old. I am very sorry, and I know this isn't what you were hoping for, but this is the decision that has been made."
  160.  
  161. So even though the evidence shows I backed under what I would call "forward looking statements" on Chris' part, the company has decided that under no special circumstances will they offer refunds and citing a 14-day refund clause as the "legal reason". In my particular case I feel like CIG is getting away with overt investment fraud.
  162.  
  163. What really adds insult to injury is the final letter I received includes this gem. "As for the cost of the game, we never predicted the scope of success the crowd funding would generate. We initially projected for 2 million, which climbed to 20 million. However, we started going well beyond that, and this enabled a bigger scope which was always the idea. I am not sure how being able to make a bigger and better game, compared to the initial limited vision could be seen as negative, which is something you have highlighted as being an issue or "untruth" but the scope of the game does not in any way compromise our ability to deliver it."
  164.  
  165. Basically he admits the campaign scope Chris pitched to Backers from the outset was effectively not the vision Chris had. If he had built the game he promised to Kickstarter / early backers, we would have that game today. We backed for the version he pitched and when he got more money he changed the scope without informing his investors. This is basically investment fraud.
  166.  
  167.  
  168. -------------------------------------------------
  169. UNEXPECTED REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 22, 2015)
  170.  
  171. Hi Ryan,
  172. Let me get your refund process started. I will see which payment provider the $930 is going back to and because your pledge is from 3 years ago whether I need more information from you to process your refund. Sorry to hear that you will be leaving us, especially since you were with us from the beginning. Let me get this ball rolling and get back to you shortly.
  173. Very Best,
  174. Sandi
  175.  
  176.  
  177. -------------------------------------------------
  178. MY REPLY (July 22, 2015)
  179.  
  180. Thank you Sandi! :)
  181.  
  182. If needed I can provide updated payment information. The card I used back then is no longer available. My Paypal address is still available and valid if an alternative is needed.
  183.  
  184. Paypal account
  185. xxxxxxx@xxxxxx.com
  186.  
  187.  
  188. -------------------------------------------------
  189. REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 22, 2015)
  190.  
  191. Thanks Ryan.
  192.  
  193. Patrick who will be processing your refund should be able to do this over the next couple of days for you. Thanks for your patience. We don't have many refunds so since Chelsea left we haven't assigned a proper person as yet to this and so apologies if you feel you have been given the run around a little. We will be sure to refund you in any case.
  194. Very best,
  195. Sandi
  196.  
  197.  
  198. -------------------------------------------------
  199. REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 26, 2015)
  200.  
  201. Hey Ryan,
  202. Just letting you know we haven't forgotten you and we will get on to this very shortly.
  203. Best,
  204. Sandi
  205.  
  206.  
  207. -------------------------------------------------
  208. REPLY FROM PATRICK PROBST (July 27, 2015)
  209.  
  210. Hi Ryan
  211.  
  212. Thanks so much for your patience with us!
  213.  
  214. I can confirm that I have now actioned your refund for a total of $930. I was able to reverse the Stripe transactions but the PayPal orders were a little too old to be reversed. We will therefore send these via PayPal's 'send money' function to 'xxxxxxx@xxxxxx.com' (a total of $225).
  215.  
  216. Do not worry about the card details having changed for the Stripe orders, the relevant systems are able to locate your account details. In fact, I am already showing some of the reversed Stripe transactions as 'refunded'.
  217.  
  218. It's a shame to see you go but I hope to welcome you back to the 'verse some day! :)
  219.  
  220. Should you have any further questions or concerns, please get back to me.
  221.  
  222. Regards
  223. Patrick
  224.  
  225. Customer Service Manager & Lead Moderator
  226. Cloud Imperium Games
  227.  
  228.  
  229. -------------------------------------------------
  230. REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 27, 2015)
  231.  
  232. HI Ryan,
  233. I just received a notice of a BBB complaint that you have filed. Would you still like me to respond to this now that you have been refunded or is there a way for you to withdraw the claim on your side? I haven't answered one of these complaints in a long while so I'm not sure how it works.
  234. Please let me know.
  235. Best,
  236. Sandi
  237.  
  238.  
  239. -------------------------------------------------
  240. MY REPLY (July 27, 2015)
  241.  
  242. I'll look at the complaint tonight after work and see what I can do from my end. Thank you for responding to my refund request!
  243.  
  244.  
  245. -------------------------------------------------
  246. REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 27, 2015)
  247.  
  248. Thanks very much Ryan - much appreciated. Hope you've had a good day and we may see you back in the 'Verse one day.
  249. Let me know how what you find out.
  250. Best,
  251. Sandi
  252.  
  253.  
  254. -------------------------------------------------
  255. MY REPLY (July 27, 2015)
  256.  
  257. Hi Sandi,
  258.  
  259. I looked into the BBB complaint tonight and there doesn't appear to be any way to remove the complaint short of contacting BBB and asking them to remove it. However they do provide an area within the complaint where I can put in additional information.
  260.  
  261. I'll use this to note the amiable steps you and your team have taken to to issue a refund; after the refund is received. You're more than welcome to provide an official response stating the refund is being processed (or it has been processed). It would likely be better to wait until after the refund is processed.
  262.  
  263. -Ryan
  264.  
  265. Hi. I received the Paypal refund for $250. Thank you. I assume the CC refund takes a few days to process.
  266.  
  267. -Ryan
  268.  
  269.  
  270. -------------------------------------------------
  271. REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 27, 2015)
  272.  
  273. Hi Ryan,
  274. So your refund has completely cleared then? Sounds like I need to answer the BBB complaint and say we refunded you?
  275. Best,
  276. Sandi
  277.  
  278.  
  279. -------------------------------------------------
  280. MY REPLY (July 28, 2015)
  281.  
  282. Still waiting for remaining $680. But yes, part of the whole has been refunded so thanks! :)
  283.  
  284. Am I correct in assuming credit / debit card refunds for the remaining transactions may take a few business days to process? I have received a couple in my checking account.
  285.  
  286. Here's a list of "Cancelled" transactions. I assume transactions marked as "Payment: PAID" are still in the process of being refunded? http://i.imgur.com/ls57OdT.png
  287.  
  288. Thanks for any clarifications you are able to provide.
  289.  
  290.  
  291. -------------------------------------------------
  292. REPLY FROM SANDI GARDINER (July 28, 2015)
  293.  
  294. Hi Ryan,
  295. Yes these transactions do take a few days to process and your account unfortunately was not one simple transaction and so took us quite some time to do.
  296. Rest assured it's happening! Keep us posted and I will wait to answer your BBB complaint.
  297. Best,
  298. Sandi
  299.  
  300.  
  301. -------------------------------------------------
  302. MY REPLY (July 31, 2015)
  303.  
  304. Hi. I see your response to the BBB complaint. Thanks! I checked my bank account. The refund was issued to the credit card. No problem. I talked with my bank and they moved the full amount over to my checking. So everything is good. Thanks! I've accepted your response on the BBB complaint.
  305.  
  306.  
  307. -------------------------------------------------
  308. POST COMMUNICATION THOUGHTS (July 31, 2015)
  309.  
  310. Sandi and those who worked on my refund went above and beyond and I would like to say they did an excellent job. Needless to say everything ended well. :)
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