Star Citizen's community manager has given a lengthy update to backers and fans to address concerns that have roiled the project's forums since it announced the beta for its first-person shooter module was on hold pending changes and improvements.
Ben Lesnick disputed that this amounts to an "indefinite delay," even though Cloud Imperium Games had told the public the Star Marine beta would launch this spring, and in explaining why it hasn't yet, director Chris Roberts gave no timeframe for when it will.
"The phrase ‘delayed indefinitely' being bandied around is incorrect. We do not have a release date to announce yet, which is not the same thing," Lesnick said, adding that in games development, that phrase "has a different meaning beyond the individual words.
"'Delayed indefinitely is a games industry PR term for cancelled," Lesnick said. "Anyone (and apparently this is a great many people) reading clickbait headlines will believe we've cancelled Star Marine. This is not the case, to the point that it implies the absolute opposite of what's actually happening."
However, "it would not be my place to give you a timetable," for Star Marine's launch, though Lesnick said "we are talking about a delay of weeks and not months/years/decades."
'Anyone reading clickbait headlines will believe we've cancelled Star Marine. This is not the case.'
The grumbling over Star Marine not having a launch date after not launching by a date Cloud Imperium never announced has touched off other concerns in Cloud Imperium's forums, among them that Star Marine is some kind of secondary component to the game. Lesnick also bridled at at the label "Call of Duty in space" being given to it.
"Star Marine isn't an aside in any way, it's an essential part of Star Citizen, something the rest of the game must have," he said. "Star Marine is the blood and sinew of the game, the connective tissue that plugs planetside into boarding into space combat and so on."
When Star Citizen announced its original crowdfunding campaigns back in 2012, the game's developers promised an expansive spacefaring game where players weren't just confined to the cockpits of their vessels. Arena Commander, the game's dogfighting module, was released to backers in June 2014.
Roberts told backers at the end of this June that Star Marine wasn't yet available for play because the module faced significant technical and gameplay issues that would have disappointed backers and made a launch not worthwhile. Roberts said the build Cloud Imperium had on hand "doesn't feel like it lives up to the standards we want to achieve with Star Citizen."
Star Marine was to have been the first of four modules Cloud Imperium promised to backers this year, the others being a social module called Planetside; the first episode of the single-player campaign, called Squadron 42; and the game's MMO-like persistent universe. Star Citizen's next playable beta, update 1.2, also is late.
Star Citizen opened its crowdfunding campaign in the autumn of 2012. Since then it has raised $85 million, visibly driven by sales of $100, $250 and, lately, $400 spaceships for use in the game when it fully launches. That is expected sometime in 2016.