Star Citizen Changes Terms of Service to Make it More Difficult to Get a Refund

By Julian Benson on at

A change to Star Citizen's Terms of Service places a new restriction on new backers to the game, preventing them from seeking a refund.

The new ToS that was released on June 10th has made a number of changes, but there is one specific clause that should give players cause to pause before clicking the 'I Agree' button. In the old ToS, backers were able to request a refund if Star Citizen wasn't released within 18 months of the game's estimated release date.

RSI [Roberts Space Industries] agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website.  However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you within eighteen (18) months after the estimated delivery date.

Now, however, the new ToS states that the game needs to have ceased development and it has removed any reference to the 18 month time limit, effectively meaning that as long as developer Cloud Imperium Games says it is working on the game then backers who have agreed to this new ToS can't request a refund:

RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website.  However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has ceased development and failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you. (Pledges made under previous Terms of Services continue to be governed by the corresponding clause of the Terms of Services, or of the Commercial Terms, as applicable, which were in effect at the time of making the Pledge).

That provision in parentheses means that if you've already backed Star Citizen then you are bound to the terms of the old ToS, with its 18 month protection. Any new backers are held to the new clause.

It is also worth noting this clause that appears both in the old and new ToS:

For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items. In the unlikely event that RSI is not able to deliver the Game and/or the pledge items, RSI agrees to post an audited cost accounting on the Website to fully explain the use of the amounts paid for Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost.  In consideration of the promises by RSI hereunder, you agree that you shall irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost in accordance with the above.

This states that any of the money you pledged that went into the game's development becomes non-refundable. If RSI is unable to complete Star Citizen then it will post an audit of where all the money pledged to the game's development was spent, but backers will have " irrevocably waive[d] any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost."

According to our legal adviser, "it seems to me that the likelihood of actually receiving a refund under either set of terms might be quite slim".

I contacted Cloud Imperium Games four days ago to clarify the impact of this change to the ToS and to ask for comment on why the change was made. We have yet to receive a response, but in the meantime, potential new Star Citizen backers are advised to exercise caution.