Derek Smart threatens legal action against Cloud Imperium Games over Star Citizen

Star Citizen 4

Derek Smart says he has instructed his lawyers to send a "demand letter" to Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games insisting on a "complete forensic accounting" of the money that has been spent on the game, as well as a solid release date and a refund option for anyone who wants one. Failure to deliver on any of those demands, he said in a post on his personal blog, will lead to the immediate filing of a class-action lawsuit.

Smart has been a very vocal critic of Star Citizen and CIG for some time now. He backed the game on Kickstarter at the $250 tier, but in July his pledge was refunded, and not at his request: "It was obvious he was not a supporter of our project and was just using our visibility as a platform to gain attention and promote his current game and his past games," a CIG rep said at the time. But Smart has continued his campaign against a game he says is simply too ambitious and complex to be developed and delivered as promised.

Today, he said he'd taken the first step toward launching legal action against the studio by sending a letter demanding a full accounting of the situation—legal action he expects will be necessary to force the studio's compliance.

"As all previous calls for accountability have failed, we don’t expect RSI [Roberts Space Industries] to co-operate (hence the need to contact the Federal authorities), with us. Which means that the next steps, depending on how they respond to the letter, would be for a class-action lawsuit (already in various stages of preparation), to move forward and be immediately filed," Smart wrote. "And through that, we’re going to subpoena and depose every single key person, while asking for specific documents during discovery which will hopefully shed a light on what is going on. They will ask for protective orders, try to delay and drag things out etc. We will fight it every step of the way and my guess is that with the Federal authorities involved, it may get resolved even before it gets to trial; and then we’ll have answers either way."

"And if they do fight this, they’re going to do it with your money, simply because they don’t believe that you—the backers—are entitled to accountability. If they had nothing to hide, resolving this matter should be very straightforward," he continued, bold emphasis his. "Sadly, I feel that this is the only way that we are going to get the answers that we are entitled to, before this whole thing collapses and makes it more difficult to sift through; especially where spoliation of material evidence becomes an issue. Not to mention the fact that they have studios outside of North America, which will make things even more difficult to sift through."

Smart's lengthy missive also offers advice to backers on how to obtain a refund, which includes contacting the FTC, as well as how to sign up to take part in the lawsuit if and when it goes ahead. And there's a bit at the end in which he insists that, despite what some Star Citizen supporters and Cloud Imperium itself have suggested, his criticism of the game is not an attempt to drum up interest in his own Line of Defense MMO.

"Had [Cloud Imperium Games founder] Chris Roberts and co not maintained a pattern of dishonesty, then when called out, foolishly singled me out, then went for broke and tried to silence me with the actions that they took, and which gave me a clear indication that they had something to hide, we would never have come this far," he wrote. "Finally, in this legal action that I have now initiated, note that I haven’t asked for anything that benefits me in any, way, shape or form. This is not, and never was, about me nor my game."

Star Citizen is currently sitting at a little under $88 million in crowdfunding support. Cloud Imperium said in the most recent Star Marine status update that all features "have been tasked out, devs are assigned to them, and we’re burning the tasks down as fast as we are able." There's currently no launch date, but we are rapidly approaching the two-month window which Roberts hinted at in June, when he announced that the Star Marine FPS module would be delayed by an unspecified duration.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.