The Advertising Standards Authority has told Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games to make it clearer that for sale "concept ships" are not yet available in the game.
Redditor mazty made a complaint to the ASA - verified by Eurogamer - after becoming "fed up of CIG and the constant lies".
The complaint was sparked by a marketing email sent out in July to subscribers that claimed "Last Chance to Grab the Gatac Railen!" and "Don't miss your chance to pledge for the Gatac Manufacture Railen. This alien concept ship will be leaving the pledge store on Monday..." The email did not mention the Gatac Railen does not exist yet in the game.
CIG currently sells what it calls concept ships - in-development but not yet available to either view or pilot in the controversial space sim.
The ASA told Eurogamer that the complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because it wasn't sufficiently clear the ship was a concept design that may never materialise.
The ASA assessed and "considered that the fact the ship was a concept product could have been made clearer", a representative told us.
"On that basis, we issued an Advice Notice advising the advertiser, in future, to ensure that its ads include any material information and significant limitations."
The ASA issues an Advice Notice where it considers there are potential problems under its advertising rules, but does not consider the issues raised are so significant as to warrant a full formal investigation.
Clearly, the Advice Notice did the trick. Star Citizen marketing emails now include a disclaimer warning potential customers about the true nature of concept ships.
"The Crusader Ares (Inferno and Ion), A2 Hercules, Genesis Starliner, are being offered here as a limited vehicle concept pledge," reads the latest email.
"This means that the vehicle is in development but is not yet ready to display in your Hangar or fly in Star Citizen. It will be available as playable content in a later patch. In the future, the vehicle price may increase and Lifetime Insurance or any extras may not be available."
The disclaimer goes on to note that if you buy the concept ship now, you'll get a "loaner vehicle" for use in the game until the concept ship actually comes out. This loaner vehicle is "a currently playable vehicle of similar approximate size and/or function to the concept ship pledged".
Echoing what CIG has said in the past about the money it makes from its virtual ships, the disclaimer adds: "We offer pledge ships to help fund Star Citizen's development. The funding received from vehicles such as this allows us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen world. These vehicles will be available for in-game credits and/or will be otherwise earnable through play in the final universe. They are not required to start or succeed at the game."
Mazty, who made the complaint, doesn't sound completely satisfied with the disclaimer.
"The wording is still extremely misleading as they claim the ships WILL be playable," they said.
Star Citizen's long and controversial development is well-documented. As the title of this latest update suggests, it's still in alpha stage. In March, the game shot through the $350m raised mark from over three million customers.
Over eight years after its initial crowdfunding effort began, Star Citizen is still without a release date, although parts of the game have been released in early access form. Squadron 42, the single-player portion of the game, is still in development but does not have a release date.
Chief developer Chris Roberts has come under fire for years now for failing to release the game, or provide a target release date. CIG makes money by selling starter packs, subscriptions and virtual space ships. In May, Star Citizen raked in $13,453,609.
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