written by Alastrom
Sometimes, I wonder if the good people behind Star Citizen have forgotten just how crazy their project is. Truly, it may be the most ambitious game ever developed. Ambitious can mean a lot of things. For some, that word suggests that the goals are outside the reach of most people. For others, it’s a reminder of the challenges of a new horizon. Ambition isn’t free. You pay for it in dedication to your craft and in the case of Star Citizen, an incredible funding model backed by their players. These “Citizens” are willing to put forth large amounts of cash in order to see their dream come true. Some of these dreams might seem simple, like being a freight pilot in an ever evolving universe. Others have high aspirations of captaining their own ship on daring missions. It’s dreams like these that lead to massive ships in game and one such ship is about to come under more fire than it’s impressive armament can handle.
The Idris is an incredible capital ship in the world of Star Citizen. I should know, I own one. It’s a two hundred and thirty three meter behemoth that requires a crew of skilled pilots, gunners and engineers to operate at peak efficiency. The original concept for the ship has seen a number of changes that eventually brought it up to the massive powerhouse it is today. During the earlier days of crowdfunding the Idris-M (Military) variant was sold to a very small batch of players. The original price of this ship was one thousand dollars, a hefty sum even for Star Citizen. They sold like hotcakes and eventually the sale was repeated in the Idris-P (Patrol). The Idris-P had a more demanding price at $1250 dollars US, though players were still excited to get their hands on this version, believing that they’d be able to bring it up to military specifications one day.
In celebration of the completed Kickstarter, Star Citizen does an anniversary sale once a year around this time where players have access to a wide range of purchase options for ships. This “sale” opens up the limited options to purchase in game ships and it’s generally the time of year where Citizens splurge to get the dream ship they’ve been eyeballing all year. This anniversary sale brought something new to the world of Star Citizen, an upgrade kit for players that already own the Idris-P. This “Aftermarket Kit” contained a number of weapons for the Idris-P including a very large beam weapon mounted on the front of the ship, similar to the Idris-M. It carried with it a price tag of $250 dollars US or $300 if you used the store credit. Some Idris-P owners were upset at this, feeling that their ship had been greatly reduced in value and the only way to make up that value was to spend the additional cost for the weapons kit. While this “Idris-K” had some people excited for the prospects it would bring, I feel it only sets a bad example for further marketing by the crowdfunding giant. We had the Idris P and the Idris M. We accepted that the M was a military version and it came with military hardware. That’s OK, because the people who backed for an “M” did so at an early stage in the game and most people agree that should be rewarded. Now we have the “K” and we’re not really sure where that leaves the “P.” If all these letters are starting to jumble, I’d remind you that they’ve still got the rest of the alphabet to go through.
The problem for me, is that we don’t actually know what we’re getting into. Are these weapons an upgrade? A sidegrade? Does the Idris-P now stand for “poor man’s?” You can theory craft all you want about how the patrol variant will be faster or it’ll use less fuel and you’ll be able to leverage that to do god knows what, but it’s all theory at this stage. We don’t know, so we can’t make an informed decision. The mantra of Star Citizen is that everything is subject to change. That’s actually a bit of cloak and dagger. Everything is subject to change but things that are set in stone are much harder to change and get away with. Players can’t fly the Idris right now. We can’t walk around inside of it to get an idea of what the ship will be like. For all intents and purposes, the ship doesn’t exist for us. Sure, we’ve seen videos of it, but we’ve also seen videos of the Kraken. If you were in Austin for CitizenCon, you even saw a full scale model. I don’t mind the ship being held back from the public. I’ll accept that decision for whatever reason CIG wants to give. What I can’t accept is that same decision coming with a two hundred and fifty dollar price tag levied against the player. Until we truly know what the capabilities of the ship will be, we’re taking a lot on faith that this is the change to the Idris that we actually want. For everyone else, they just have to buy the weapons and hope this turns the ship into the thing we thought we were getting originally.
My first thought this morning is that I should just buy it and make the decision later. In true sunk cost fallacy fashion, I was worried, like most of you probably were, that I needed this “upgrade” to fully enjoy the capabilities of the Idris. I think both mindsets are a mistake. I was happy to own an Idris-P with the full knowledge that early backers were rewarded further for their pledge. Now I’m worried that I’ll be buying upgrades for this thing long before I’ve had a chance to take it for a spin.
Maybe we should just start referring to it as the Idris-H. Short for: “Hole in which you throw money.”