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The Almighty Buck Games

Star Citizen's Crowdfunding-Driven Grey Market 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the arbitrage-knows-no-bounds dept.
szyzyg writes "Star Citizen has broken all the crowdfunding records, raising almost 25 million dollars in the last year to fund Chris Roberts' promise of the ultimate spaceship game. However, an investigation sheds light on a murky secondary market where items are being resold by investors for profit, all for a game that won't be fully released for two years. The standard crowdfunding tactic of rewarding early backers has created a tiered system with ample room for profiteering, profits which many not be shared with the developers. Few things would please me more than Star Citizen succeeding, but backers should read this article before being tempted to trade up their internet spaceships through a third party."
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Star Citizen's Crowdfunding-Driven Grey Market

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  • Just what we needed.

    • by jythie (914043)
      EvE could really use some competition, but this is not going to be it. There is going to be some market overlap between the two, but from the sounds of it they have rather different focuses in what will make them interesting.

      So far no one has really tried to make another 'EvE' on any significant scale, not when it comes to the things that make EvE unusual.
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Friday October 25, 2013 @03:56PM (#45239043)
    I bought/sold items in games before. People did it with baseball cards. People did it with magic the gathering cards. Buy/sell/trading of virtual items makes sense.

    What sickens me is the hackers who steal people's accounts. This is really not much different than people scamming people's bank accounts, but there is less enforcement. I just don't like hackers stealing peoples video game assets. These people who phish for passwords and steal credentials should have to go to jail if caught. And people should be trying to catch these guys.

    You can't write it off as the account being worth nothing, so there is nothing of value lost. The fact that they sell your lewt shows that there is stuff of value there. They're nothing different than common thieves. I just don't know why law enforcement doesn't target them.
    • by CitizenCain (1209428) on Friday October 25, 2013 @04:01PM (#45239113)

      I just don't know why law enforcement doesn't target them.

      Limited resources. They spend more resources on crimes that are more damaging than simply having a game account stolen (which sucks, but is hardly life-altering) or crimes they can make money off of (speeding, asset forfeiture, etc.).

      And, except for that last part where they play the role of modern-day highway robbers (literally, even), that's as it should be. There are enough *real* crimes that cause victims serious harm, so having your video gaming account stolen should never be a top priority for police, IMO.

      • by dkf (304284)

        [The police] spend more resources on crimes that are more damaging than simply having a game account stolen (which sucks, but is hardly life-altering) or crimes they can make money off of (speeding, asset forfeiture, etc.).

        To be fair, speeding is a major factor (though clearly not the only one) in increasing the frequency and severity of car crashes, which in turn can definitely have life-altering consequences. (You can't get a much more "life-altering consequence" than being killed, and even with modern car safety features, the best way to not die from a car crash is to not be in a car crash at all.) Speed has a two-fold impact on crash frequency and severity: more kinetic energy, and less time for drivers to react so as to

    • by Rhacman (1528815)
      You can own a trading card however many online games have explicit terms of service that state that you do not own the in-game assets associated with your account. A real-world analogy would be when you play checkers at your friends house; you don't own the game pieces but you are permitted to control them within the scope of the game. This makes the publishers the judge, jury, and executioner with regards to any dispute involving in-game assets, no need to waste the time of law-enforcement. Now perhaps
  • How could this possibly fail?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Black market is for illegal trade, and grey market is supposed to imply some sort of wrongdoing.

    Honest evaluation: people who got in early enough and anticipated a larger future demand than would be present for the initial kickstarting decided to buy up extra packs and sell them for a profit. This is the same as people who wait in line to buy PS4s and then resell on ebay for profit. They are selling their small amount of time, effort, patience or simply timing so that people who did/could not get into the

    • by gweihir (88907)

      But, but, think of the children! These people are clearly promoting terrorism, drug abuse and copyright infringement! Probably the starships traded also had lewd posters on their interior walls!

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      It works the same way when investing in businesses.
      People who invest earlier get a larger part of the pie, then they sell it for profit to new investors. The whole point of the exercise is to get a return on your investment, typically multiplying it by 4.

      Of course, this isn't quite like investing: crowdfunding is more like a gift in exchange for a future product, there are no returns on investment.

  • BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 25, 2013 @04:05PM (#45239159)

    So? What's the problem?
    The dev team got the money to make a AAA GPU-burning space-sim without moronic publishers ruining it.
    People get to see the inside of game dev, week to week, which is really cool imo

    Someone else making money with it is, for me, completely irrelevant, it is not detracting from the development, it's not harming their bussiness, why should I care?

    Or is it one of those "only me" concepts?

    PS: Star Citizen is AWESOME. and it is NOT Eve online, for fucks sake....

    • Re:BS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by szyzyg (7313) on Friday October 25, 2013 @04:15PM (#45239261)

      The problem is:
      Trading forums deliberately suppressing information on actual prices and alternatives.
      Package resellers on Amazon & Ebay charging large markups because the buyers don't know the mechanics.
      Star Citizen MODERATORS in charge of enforcing the trading bans on the official forum directing users to their own trading service.

      In short, the problem is information asymmetry, which this article attempts to address.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      Two problems:

      1. People who want to buy the limited packages could have been giving the money to the devs to fund the game. Which is the entire point of the whole "selling ships before game is even out" thing.
      2. Obfuscation: by not allowing discussion of some of the practices and fine points, such as price differential for early backers, newcomers may actually end up getting screwed. They think they're backing the dev, when in fact they're lining profiteers' pockets.

      • by Fjandr (66656)

        2: These people are actually backing the development, just at a slightly smaller percentage than they may think they are.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          So when you donate money to charity through a middleman and he takes a sizeable portion of your money, it's ok?

          Where do you draw the line? How much can he take? Can he not tell you that he's taking a portion of the money for himself? In some countries that is actually illegal to do.

          • So when you donate money to charity through a middleman and he takes a sizeable portion of your money, it's ok?

            It's not necessarily OK, but it's definitely standard practice, more's the pity.

  • Almost always exactly the same thing, share prices spike after they become "available" to the select few.
    • Well, that is due to proper market analysis more so than anything else. It is obviously in the best interest of the current share holders to properly evaluate the stock price before an IPO. An accurate evaluation with erroring on the side of being low means it will grow in price out of the gate, allowing those early backers a chance to sell their existing stock without fear of flooding the market with sell orders when there are no buy orders for the stock.
  • So overblown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday October 25, 2013 @04:13PM (#45239247)
    Disclaimer: I am a backer of Star Citizen.

    This is ridiculously overblown. People are so butthurt about not being able to get in on the super special offers of Idris Corvettes or whatever, and they're jealous of people who can pay the ridiculous secondary market prices. Meanwhile, CIG itself is butthurt that they're not getting any money off the secondary market that they inadvertently created by offering limited issue ships and empowering users to transfer them. You know, because the millions upon millions of dollars that people have given them up front isn't enough.

    If you create items that are scarce and enable people to trade them, you are creating a market. Period. No exceptions. You cannot then start whining about how you don't get automatic royalties every time somebody sells an item, or even stupider complain that people are selling them in the first place. Making them scarce gave them value, making them transferable created the market. Everybody get over themselves and stop whining. Oh and scams? First rule of ANY market: CAVEAT EMPTOR, BITCHES.
    • by szyzyg (7313)

      Good thing someone wrote a guide explaining all this then eh?

      • If you reach adulthood without knowing and understanding the fundamental principle of a buyer's responsibility in markets, you either had the worst succession of parents, family members, teachers, friends and mentors, or you're purely and simply an idiot. It is the foundation of a individual's ability to be functional as an independent adult.

        Considering some of the tales of folly I've heard, I do indeed question the quality of those in mentoring roles, but in the end the responsibility lies ultimately in
        Good thing someone wrote a guide explaining all this then eh?

        Yea, that guide is called "capitalism."

        You're seriously going to pretend that a concept normally expressed in Latin is some newfangled idea that you have to be made explicitly aware of on each and every financial transaction?

        • by szyzyg (7313)

          No, I'm suggesting that the article explains all the things that buyers should be wary of and therefore makes an excellent guide for buyers.

          • No, I'm suggesting that the article explains all the things that buyers should be wary of and therefore makes an excellent guide for buyers.

            If you're referring to some specific document that exists, cite the source.

            Otherwise, your post is ambiguous enough to make the rest of us think you're generalizing.

            • by Fjandr (66656)

              The specific document is the articlee

              • The specific document is the articlee

                But the article only exists because unscrupulous individuals were profiting off others' ignorance, and the guys who make the game should have written such a guide earlier to protect the majority of their customers from being exploited by a minority.

          • As CanHasDIY has already said, your statement was ambiguous, especially in Slashdot's RTFA?lol environment. Ambiguity is an opening with a neon sign over it for every dime store rhetorician to make use.
    • by Fjandr (66656)

      CIG is getting money off the secondary market, just not as much as if the buyer paid them directly. The veteran backers are still paying CIG for these items, just at a slightly smaller rate than the non-veterans to which they re-sell.

  • I'm shocked. SHOCKED.

    Markets, like life, find a way.

  • by Gravis Zero (934156) on Friday October 25, 2013 @04:23PM (#45239349)

    people bought goods that were of limited distribution and then resold them for more money.

    isnt this just basic supply and demand?

    • Yes. And if CIG really wanted to have made a mint, they would have offered the Idris Corvettes in auctions. Considering that the manage to sell like a hundred of them for a grand each in a matter of fucking minutes, think of what ridiculous prices they might have fetched in an auction format. Plus, it would cut down on the secondary market transfers, because only a few people would likely pay more for the near peak prices of the auctions. The high rates of sale for even the ludicrously priced corvettes indi
  • They'd better ship the thing. There have been some large, overfunded Kickstarter projects that never shipped. Remember "Clang and the Pitfalls of Kickstarter"? [] Then there was the Form 1 low-cost 3D printer. Despite being way overfunded, the delivery date always seems to be four months away. It was four months away last December [], and it's four months away now [].

    • I'm one of the lucky folks who's never funded a Kickstarter project that failed to deliver. All of my friends have been burned at least once now.
      • by gweihir (88907) on Friday October 25, 2013 @07:09PM (#45241093)

        If you take into account that kickstarter games are about 50% cheaper, unless you get burned half of the time, you are still financially ahead. And if you take into account that most of these games would have never been made without kickstarter, you are even more ahead.

        But I guess that bit if math is beyond most people.

        • by Fjandr (66656)

          Any time people don't get the maximum benefit, they bitch and moan.

          They are apparently unaware that life fundamentally isn't fair, and never will be.

      • by NoZart (961808)

        I never backed anything on kickstarter yet, but from the secondary information i got, i always thought that you get your money back if the project fails. Am i under a false assumption?

        • I never backed anything on kickstarter yet, but from the secondary information i got, i always thought that you get your money back if the project fails. Am i under a false assumption?

          You're right -- the terms and conditions of Kickstarter state that you must give out all the promised rewards, and as most of the rewards tiers for Star Citizen include access to the game, they have to ship something. The problem is, what constitutes a game? Are the claimed features all contractually binding? Would there be any legal comeback if Star Citizen was released as simply an old-school Elite clone with a slightly fancier flight interface made with CryEngine and featuring all the starship types incl

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        I'm one of the lucky folks who's never funded a Kickstarter project that failed to deliver.

        You could have just said you've never funded a Kickstarter project.

    • That's the shipping date for a new purchase ... formlabs has been shipping out the kickstarter orders for a while now.

  • It really REALLY bothers me that this game has gotten $25 million when this AMAZING PERFECT GAME already exists, and it's called Vendetta Online. This is reinventing the wheel and marketing nonsense, and if people actually cared/desired to play such a game they would be already.
    • by Saffaya (702234)

      First, I'll say thank you for bringing a game like Vendetta Online to my attention.

      It seems positively interesting, I'm glad to know about its existence, and I have a deep respect for the devs for such longevity in the game market (and the support of so many different OS ... impressive).

      Second, a few points about Star Citizen that Vendetta Online doesn't have.

      Chris Roberts.
      Private Servers.
      Top of the line graphics and aimed for the future : Latest Crysys engine + 4k resolution.

      To conclude, do not be jealous

      • by ReekRend (843787)
        While I grew up on Wing Commander and I love all that Chris Roberts has done, what is he going to bring to the table for a mature genre like this that hasn't already been done, thought of, or suggested? If there were a desire or market for private servers/instancing, I am certain that VO would or will do it. There's no complaints about VO graphics, they will be continually updated with the rest of the game as it has been all along. If there is a desire for anything it will be implemented. It's not reali
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Star Citizen is actually more like the X series.
      X Rebirth (upcoming)
      X3 Reunion (previous iteration)

  • Sadly overhyped (Score:2, Informative)

    by Pecisk (688001)

    SC is already getting overhyped beyond means, and ship sales are just adding fuel to the fire. This decision alone from CIG has been huge turn off for many players to check it out, because while sandbox space sim doesn't have special "win" scenarios, still it's gives huge advantage right out start at the game for people with bought ships.

    I personally don't like this huge in-game assets sale. I know SC fans argue it's for supporting SC development, but...seriously. If you are so curious to support game, do i

  • Seriously .. think of the best game you ever played .. how much did you buy it for .. then look at what people are paying here. They are trading on dreams not a reality - games often perform below expectations upon release. Items sold here can be bought / earned in game .. I strongly suspect when you get the game and after 50 hours of playing can upgrade your ship to a $250 ship - they won't be sold for $250 any more.
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