Chris Roberts responds to Star Citizen 'pay-to-win' concerns after removal of in-game currency cap

Star Citizen is no stranger to "pay-to-win" accusations, but the criticism intensified this week following developer Cloud Imperium Games' decision to remove the cap on in-game currency that players can accumulate. Previously, you could only hoard 150,000 United Earth Credits (UEC), but now players can stockpile as much as they want, albeit they are still limited to purchasing a maximum of 25,000 UEC a day.

Members of the community immediately criticised the move. UEC is not yet usable in the game, but one user (the top comment on the linked thread) pointed out that, theoretically, you could buy 25,000 UEC every day until the game launched, which would leave you with enough to "outright control the economy", or at least drive inflation sky-high.

Chris Roberts, Cloud Imperium Games co-founder, has responded to those concerns by saying that removing the cap does not make Star Citizen pay-to-win because there is no "specific win state". As he put it in a letter to players on Friday, "you win by having fun, and fun is different things to different people".

"This may be a foreign concept to gamers as the majority of games are about winning and losing, but Star Citizen isn’t a normal game," he said in the letter.  "[It] isn’t some race to the top; it’s not like Highlander where 'There can only be one!'—it is an open-ended persistent universe sandbox that doesn’t have an end game or a specific win-state." 

He went on to say that PvP, where players with better ships will hold an advantage, only makes up a fraction of the game, and that players can opt out entirely if they want. He added that it was a "puzzle" that critics of the system don’t have a problem with the stockpiling of expensive ships or items but think that a "player having more than 150,000 UEC is game-breaking".

He also explained the reasoning behind the initial decision, which stemmed from the fact that players can "melt" some items back to UEC, including items purchased in the now-defunct Voyager Direct web store. You'd especially want to do this if you bought an item at a higher price than it is worth now, cashing out for UEC rather than keeping an overvalued item.

The 150,000 UEC cap had to go, Roberts explained, because the value of the items that many players wished to melt down far exceeded the cap.

You can see Roberts talk through the decision in more detail in the video below—skip to 32:40 for his explanation. What do you think of the decision, and of Roberts' response?

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play.