Star Citizen developers Cloud Imperium Games’ new variant of their feature roadmap has scrapped target dates for coming features. The change, the company writes, is largely to avoid “distraction” and “continued noise every time we shift deliverables” from “a very loud contingent of Roadmap watchers who see projections as promises.”
The change has sound logic behind it, but will surely anger fans. The game has been in the works for more than 9 years, and has developed a very mixed reputation. Despite raising more than $350 million dollars total at one point last year, that total has only increased. Current estimates put the total raised at more than $430 million. The common perception among critics has been one of vaporware, and that hasn’t been helped by regularly planned updates often missing content deadlines.
A lot of this is owed to the propensity of Chris Roberts and the team setting dates for planned features. That practice will be no more. CIG has scrapped the dated launches to eliminate “distraction both internally at CIG and within our community” when far-out feature dates get moved, CIG has now simply stopped projecting features in the Release View more than a quarter out. This is all a very direct departure from what the company has previously said. Previously, even as recent as the most recent Star Citizen 3.15 and Star Citizen 3.16 previews, the company had a very different tune. Developers have worked with various roadmaps to plan out deadlines for new and updated features, this change marks yet another shift.
Previously, CIG said that the target dates in this Release View would be less reliable as they struggled to keep up with player expectations. The push to get features done and out the door has been ever-present, but Star Citizen has routinely failed to deliver on many promised features. That has slowly become a more consistent view of RSI, and even more so this time as the company had pushed planned features to “the quarter in front of us,” CIG said, “you could say at that point that we have a ~90% degree of confidence that this deliverable will make its indicated release quarter.”
it would seem that lack of confidence has only gotten worse over time. The developer went into more detail though, and said pretty clearly that they knew this was coming. And this change should add clarity. CIG said: “That predictability and confidence for delivery will begin to degrade.” Thus, Release View cards for features projected more than a quarter out would be marked as “tentative” and colored in gray. That said, any features appearing anywhere on the Release View would be ones where “we have at least a good level of confidence – around a ~70% confidence level – that we could make that window,” CIG wrote. “If we can’t even clear this hurdle of confidence internally, then we won’t put it on a release card.”
Their previous plan to hold Release Views which included four quarters’ worth of tentative feature release plans is being called a mistake by CIG. They “put too much attention on features that had a high probability of shifting around,” the company said, adding that “it has become abundantly clear to us that despite our best efforts to communicate the fluidity of development, and how features marked as Tentative should sincerely not be relied upon, the general focus of many of our most passionate players has continued to lead them to interpret anything on the Release View as a promise.”
Star Citizen 3.16 is the most recent stable build, and that’s likely to be the case for some time. it deployed back in December 2021, and this new roadmap structure could mean slower progress on updates overall.
The change means that RSI is no longer committing to target dates for core systems that aren’t close to being finished. They acknowledge that development is inherently volatile. Onboarding new staff takes time, as does adjusting for the chaos of life. So with that, comes expected delays. Sure, Star Citizen has had plenty of those already, and there’s definitely a negative interpretation to this change. Some folks will see it as an attempt by RSI to hide the glacial progress on some features. But another way of looking at the problem suggests that this will remove some pressure on developers, artists and designers to hit tight deadlines. Hopefully, that’s what’s happening here.