As Star Citizen turns eight years old, the single-player campaign still sounds a long way off
Failure to launch.
Star Citizen's single-player campaign, Squadron 42 is still in development, Cloud Imperium Games has insisted, but don't hold your breath on it coming out any time soon.
"We still have a ways to go before we are in beta, but everyone on Squadron 42 is working very hard to deliver something great," CIG boss Chris Roberts said in an AMA on the Roberts Space Industries website to coincide with Star Citizen's eight birthday (Star Citizen was unveiled on 10th October 2012).
The AMA was meant to celebrate Star Citizen's milestone, but among posts about upcoming features for the main game were questions from clearly disgruntled fans who complained about the radio silence around Squadron 42, which is currently six years behind its original delivery target.
Squadron 42 is meant to be a cinematic, star-studded story-based single-player adventure akin to the Wing Commander games Roberts made his name with in the '90s. CIG has released flashy trailers for the game, starring virtual recreations of Hollywood actors such as Mark Hamill, Gillian Anderson, Gary Oldman and Mark Strong, but it has yet to become playable for backers in any form.
Squadron 42 was originally announced for release in 2014 during the Star Citizen Kickstarter campaign, but was delayed multiple times. In mid-2019 CIG said a beta release was planned before the end of Q2 2020, then an estimated Q3 2020 on a now abandoned roadmap. But that date has passed and there has been no meaningful communication from the studio on the status of Squadron 42's release.
"As it stands the community has completely divided opinions on the expected release date of SQ42 with opinions varying from that SQ42 is in beta currently to it being 5+ years away," said a user called Bobblenator in an AMA question.
"You stated in the pledge (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/the-pledge): 'We, the Developer, intend to treat you with the same respect we would give a publisher. You will receive regular updates about the progress of the game.'
"Given the massive uncertainty on the progress of SQ42 within the community, do you feel as though you have been meeting this objective?"
Roberts stepped in to address this question, announcing the imminent release of a show focused just on Squadron 42 called The Briefing Room. New episodes are planned every three months until the game comes out.
Roberts admitted however that the studio hasn't done a good job of showing progress on Squadron 42.
"Squadron 42 is a tricky project to communicate on as we really don't want to give the experience and story away which can make updating on certain content or features challenging," he said.
Roberts stressed the pledge Bobblenator referred to in their question related to Star Citizen, as opposed to Squadron 42 (each has its own development roadmap), and insisted "we also communicate way more than any other developer or publisher than I am aware of in terms of work and progress".
He then went on to suggest different people want different types of communication, ranging from deep dives to release date announcements.
"It's impossible to please all the people all the time, and with a project as complicated as Star Citizen or even Squadron 42 it's impossible to have iron clad dates due to the huge amount of ongoing R&D.
"So yes, I do feel like we have been meeting 'The Pledge'."
Roberts, in a separate post, then addressed concern about the status of Squadron 42 specifically. And unfortunately it sounds like fans will have to wait a while longer.
"You're not really asking about what is being worked on Squadron 42, you really just want to know when it will be done," Roberts said.
"The best answer for your question is Squadron 42 will be done when it is done, and will not be released just to make a date but instead once all the tech and content is finished, polished and it plays great. I am not willing to compromise making a game I believe in with all my heart and soul, and even though everyone (including me) wants Squadron 42 sooner than later, it would be doing a huge disservice to everyone working really hard on the project and all of you that are looking forward to it to deliver something that isn't great.
"The new roadmap will show how we are doing towards that goal and as we get closer to the end it will be more accurate but it will never be a perfect crystal ball of the future as there is always a certain amount of unpredictability in game development, especially when the game is hugely ambitious and has a very high quality bar; Red Dead Redemption 2, Last of Us 2 and now Cyberpunk have all taken a lot longer than originally communicated and those projects didn't even announce a release date until very deep into their production, when most of their tech had been resolved.
"We still have a ways to go before we are in beta, but everyone on Squadron 42 is working very hard to deliver something great."
As you'd expect, Roberts' comments have sparked a vociferous response among the game's community, with some players complaining about the long development time of Squadron 42, and others saying they are happy to wait.
"See the issue I have is that we're not treated with the same respect as a publisher," wrote redditor danivus on the Star Citizen sub.
"A publisher is told how far along things are. A publisher is told when something is taking longer than expected, where challenges have been encountered and content cut.
We're treated like players, only given the good news and shown shiny things in the hopes we'll buy more jpegs."
Danivus' "jpegs" line is in reference to the sale of virtual spaceships you can't actually fly in-game. Star Citizen has raised an astonishing $314m from nearly three million people since launching as a crowdfunded project in 2012, and the money continues to roll in: according to the official website, Star Citizen generated over $3m in September. Drilling down further, $236,775 was made just yesterday, 9th October.
Star Citizen and Chris Roberts have come under fire for years now for failing to release the game, or provide a target release date. Yesterday, the developers launched the Star Citizen - Alpha 3.11: High Impact update, and kicked off a Halloween-themed event as well as an in-game election. Fans will watch the new Squadron 42 show due out today with great interest.