The spaceship MMO Star Citizen has now received over 457 million euros in “donations” that should be used to complete the game. But now a game tester at the Texas studio is complaining about the lousy pay and treatment of employees. Especially now that the home office rules are expiring and it’s back to the office. Many of his colleagues are forced to move back in with their parents. Given the rising cost of living, they could no longer afford their own apartment in Texas with the salary.
How much money has Star Citizen made so far?
- The counter at Star Citizen is now at 482,598,383 US dollars, which is just over 457 million euros (via RSI).
- For comparison, the video game Cyberpunk 2077, which took 10 years to develop, cost less than half that at $174 million (via xfire).
- After the project’s relatively humble beginnings, revenue has exploded when Star Citizen began selling virtual spaceships. Income has again increased considerably at a high level, especially since the pandemic year 2020.
Despite all the money and the many years of development time, there is still no clear release window when Star Citizen will appear. However, the project is also extremely ambitious and wants to set new standards in many respects.
According to studio boss Chris Roberts, the Covid-related shift in work to the home office has contributed to the release of planned features being delayed.
The latest pack in Star Citizen will cost more than €35,000 – Still no release date
Star Citizen wants all employees to return to the office
An employee now complains about this: The former employee at Star Citizen, Kiplan Case, is now speaking on the career platform LinkedIn. He worked full time in QA at Cloud Imperium Games in Austin, Texas for 6 months. His job was to find bugs in the game, document them and forward them to the programmers.
According to the tester, however, he has now been fired because he refused to return to the office and “stand up for his employees”. He has been able to work from home for the past few months, but Cloud Imperium Games has now removed their Covid protection order. Even employees with vulnerable family members or people who are vulnerable themselves would only have received a short extension of the home office time and would now have to return to the office.
Case had apparently opposed this. He also complains:
Austin, Texas is the 16th most expensive place to live in the US. The cost of living is rising here. Many of us have to drive more than 90 kilometers to get to the office and the prices for gas are not so nice right now.
A lot of my colleagues have already been evicted from their homes because of rising rents. They are forced to live with their parents again.
No one working in the fastest growing media industry, video games, should ever find themselves unable to afford a home.
Case encourages everyone to think about how their company treats them.
We dealt with the difficult combination of crowdfunding and MMOs in detail in a podcast on MeinMMO:
Much sympathy for employees and the difficult financial situation
This is how it is discussed: Case’s post drew a lot of attention on Linkedin. The abolition of the option to work from home is obviously a concern for many in the gaming industry – especially now that the prices of everyday life are rising to hostile dimensions for many people in the USA:
- There is a general lack of understanding as to why Quality Assurance would have to work in the office again. They could do their job from home, say members of the gaming industry.
- Others argue that many gaming studios have indeed switched to “remote” work.
- “Quality assurance” in particular is known to be very badly paid anyway. Therefore, the obligation to return to the office is particularly difficult for them. They only have a few compensation rules that absorb the additional burden of travel costs.
On the other hand, Linkedin makes fun of Star Citizen. In the comments of MassivleyOp it says:
- “I can’t imagine what it’s like to work in Quality Assurance at Star Citizen and report the same bugs over and over again for 10 years.”
- “So the company that’s been deferring a game for 10 years and is known for having an uber-publisher and uber-designer at the helm is also creating a toxic work environment? Who would have thought that.”
“Home office or office?” is a big topic in gaming right now
This is behind it: It’s not a problem specific to Star Citizen that moving away from “working from home” hurts especially now, when gas prices are so high. It’s a problem that all companies are grappling with right now that are insisting that employees “come back to the office.” And at least a partial return to the office for many companies, because they have recognized that working from home is above all causes problems in the “idea finding” phase because there is no informal exchange during work breaks and “short distances”.
However, as the site Gamesindustry.biz writes, many developers they spoke to were not planning a full return to the office like before the pandemic. The genie is out of the bottle. Many developers are apparently looking for partial solutions, such as 2 days of home office a week.
The case of the QA employee at Star Citizen seems to be an extreme case: Because the situation at Star Citizen is aggravated by the fact that the cost of living in the Austin region has exploded due to real estate speculation.
Traditionally, “QA” testers are also at the bottom of the food chain in the video game industry, where they are generally not paid that much because they expect the employees to be enthusiastic about “video games”.
We are dealing with the effects of the pandemic on Star Citizen here on MeinMMO:
Star Citizen brings new updates noticeably slower, but collects more and more players and money