Today CIG failed the Star Citizen community by limiting who will be allowed to watch CitizenCon. **Updated with comments from Chris Roberts**
The announcement came down today that this year’s CitizenCon, the globetrotting yearly gathering of all Star Citizen fans to hear the progress on the projects they love, will lock out a good portion of those fans behind a paywall. And forget bringing in any new fans.
Stepping back, a lot of you may be surprised at my anger but there are good reasons why CIG has no business locking out any part of its fanbase.
CIG has crowdfunded over $190 million to develop Star Citizen and untold millions more from subscribers. CIG lives off of the goodwill, generosity, and excitement of the Star Citizen community. Poisoning the well by forcing the members of that community to throw them yet another $20 USD just so they can keep apprised of the game they helped finance is just absurd and frankly paints CIG as wildly out of touch.
You can obviously see that CIG is aiming for CitizenCon to be BlizzCon but let’s be real here. Blizzard has 19 released games, including major expansions and more in development. Blizzard is legendary in gaming and BlizzCon is a two-day event with an absolutely absurd amount of content. CIG has not yet released a title and while CitizenCon has expanded, it is not nearly the same scale.
I could have seen CIG being able to legitimately go this direction with CitizenCon in 3-4 years, but 2018 is far too soon.
This will also inevitably bring back the ever-present questions about money and if monetary concerns are driving what appears for all the world to be a cash grab from a community that has already given a lot.
CIG says that the event is too big and complex to be held without a digital ticket price (this is on top of the already hugely inflated ticket prices for attendees). I’d respond that CIG chose the size and scope of the event. Its size and complexity is their own doing.
On top of all that, with likely merchandise and ship sales at the event, the chances of CitizenCon not turning a profit seem vanishingly small even without the imposition of a digital ticket.
I hope the loss of community goodwill was worth the probably less than $100,000 that CIG will earn with this stunt.
CIG has shown that the only backers they really care for are those who give them a lot of money. Concierge and subscribers will get complimentary streaming. Those fans out there who just love Star Citizen but don’t have a lot of freely available funds are left out.
For the record, the video of the events at CitizenCon will be made available “eventually” (CIG has a somewhat spotty record on “eventually”) on the Star Citizen YouTube channel. The keynote address at some point later on the same day of the event.
Update 2 - Chris Roberts has added to his original statement with an update this morning:
TL;DR - The event entire will be livestreamed for everyone with a Star Citizen account. Rebroadcasting is allowed.
After sleeping on this, I am going to chalk this one up to experience.
We're going to cut back on the live-streaming crew / costs but have both stages streamed for anyone with a Star Citizen user account.
Star Citizen Content Creators are welcome to rebroadcast our stream live.
If you would like to support the additional costs of streaming all the presentations, you can support the show by purchasing the CitizenCon digital goodies package (Imperators still get this as their October flair)
Update - Chris Roberts has now issued a statement on Spectrum regarding the above.
I don't post often but this is a case where I will break that rule.
Because there seems to be a lot of vitriol and outrage that is unfairly directed towards Community and Marketing .
If you're upset, you should be upset at me.
Because this was my idea.
Let me give you some context.
This year's CitizenCon is much bigger than last years, with two separate stages and tracks. We did this because we felt the format we tested last year was a success and because of this we wanted to expand it to allow more people to attend and provide more opportunities to hear from and interact with the devs.
With a venue and planned attendance three times the CitizenCon in Frankfurt, with more panels (so more devs needing to travel) , more food and drink options for everyone the proposed budget for this year's CitizenCon was almost double last years. And this was without any video coverage, let alone streaming of the second stage, and a plan to just stream the opening keynote from the main stage.
Yes, you read that right, the original plan didn't have any plan for streaming anything beyond the opening keynote. There was not even video archiving of the second stage due the additional costs of getting a second video crew for that stage. Even then there was some debate as to whether it was truly worth it to spend a chunk of change to stream the opening keynote for 90 minutes when we're always in a foot race to compress it as a high-quality video and post to YouTube as quickly as possible after the demo so people can enjoy a HD Video as opposed to a crappy re-post of a Twitch Stream.
While we get a nice viewership from streaming by far the most views is always through YouTube as the resulting press coverage links to it, whether its via our official channel or in the case we aren't quick enough someone else's re-posting of our stream. In terms of showing off Star Citizen, getting a high quality video up on YouTube is always our top priority. While everyone else is having a celebratory drink or mingling after the show the video team is locked away cleaning up a cut to post online, often staying up to 2am and past to do this. Which is why there was an argument to just let the attendees see it live and everyone else an hour or so later as a nice high-quality video.
Of course, me being me, wanted more.
I felt if we were bothering to put these panels on with all our top developers we should record all of it for the community to see. And if we were recording all of it then couldn't we also stream it all for the community members that were interested? And since we constantly get criticized for our home-brew approach to videography and streaming, let's bring in a specialist company that can handle multiple simultaneous stages, cameras and streams.
Now of course this doesn't help with the budget because what I just asked about adds a low six figure amount to the cost of the event. We really try to spend the money we raise on game development not community content or events. For that we use our subscriptions and try to defray the costs with sponsors like Intel last year.
Since we originally announced CitizenCon for this year in Austin there's been multiple threads about digital passes for those that can't make it to Austin midweek, I thought let's take a leaf out of Blizzard's book and have a digital pass to allow people to virtually be there for all the presentations and the money for these passes would help offset the not inconsiderable increase in costs that I was asking for because I wanted to do it better for all of you. It was a gamble because we're committing to the increased costs without knowing how many people would take us up on it but I decided we would take the gamble this year and if it doesn't pan out we'll write it up to experience and not be as ambitious in our video and live stream goals next year.
Because we do use subscription revenue for Community Content and Events we felt that subscribers should get the streaming perk for free as it is their contribution that pays for our video shows as well as other forms of community content and engagement. Also, because concierge level backers have contributed far more than anyone could expect to help us build the crazy dream that is Star Citizen I felt they should also be included (not unlike we early PTU access as a perk)
The plan is to record all presentations at a high quality, edit and post them to YouTube as we go, with the Keynote being up as soon as possible after it finished, and the other panels going out over the following days (you got to give the video team some time; we're talking 10 hours of finished content!)
Nothing was ever planned to be pay-walled or withheld form the community, and honestly I like the idea of most people seeing the presentations in their own time as a high quality video rather than a stream of potentially questionable quality. The live-stream aspect was always intended for the most ardent community members that want to see it live as it unfolds but can't make it to the event to be there in person.
We're not likely to cover the costs of the additional coverage and live-streaming but I felt we should be fiscally responsible and try to defray at least some of additional costs, which is how the current plan came to be.
We debated back and forth about whether we want to stream the keynote and closing for everyone, and have the rest require a streaming pass or require a streaming pass for all. We ended up coming down on the side of the pass for all, mostly for our ability to deliver a high quality video to everyone in short order and control the message and coordinate any press from the opening or closing. If we can give game sites a link to a video and guarantee that they will all get it at the same time we don't have to worry about different sites all trying to preempt each other, some linking to our stream, some linking to someone's YouTube re-post.
What we didn't anticipate is how dearly some of you value watching the main CitizenCon presentation live.
I get that some of you may not be considering these nuances when you're whipping out your pitchforks, which is why I thought it would help to detail our thought process and decision process. We're always trying to give you more, at a better quality, sometimes that requires us to charge for things that we haven't in the past.
But I get that some of you could feel that you've lost something that you've had previously, and you are not a true Star Citizen fan unless you've sat through an awkward live-stream with crashes and technical glitches, so we will have the opening keynote and my closing available for everyone that has a Star Citizen account, no digital pass required, with the other sessions requiring a digital pass to see live (and remember you'll be able to see these at your leisure, no restrictions a few days later)
I just don't want to see threads about how we shouldn't live-stream and just post a polished video afterwards (because that has never happened! /s)