The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a warning to Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games over the way it markets "concept ships."
As reported by Eurogamer, the UK advertising regulator received at least one complaint that accused the Star Citizen maker of telling "constant lies" to sell concept items that might never appear in-game.
The complaint specifically related to a marketing email sent out in July that implored users to purchase an alien concept ship before it was pulled from sale. "Don't miss your chance to pledge for the Gatac Manufacture Railen," it read. "This alien concept ship will be leaving the pledge store on Monday."
What the email didn't mention, however, is that concept ships are work-in-progress items that have yet to be implemented. That means anybody purchasing one wouldn't be able to pilot or even view their new intergalactic whip in the in-development space sim.
After receiving the complaint, the ASA issued an Advice Notice to Cloud Imperium telling the studio to be fully upfront about the nature of concept products.
"[We] considered that the fact the ship was a concept product could have been made clearer," said an ASA representative. "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."
Advice Notices are dished out by the ASA when it wants to reprimand an organization over a potential advertising breach without launching a full investigation. In the case of Star Citizen, it seems that preliminary slap on the wrist has prompted some changes, and Cloud Impreium is now being more upfront about what concept purchases actually entail.
"[Vehicle concepts] mean that the vehicle is in development but is not yet ready to display in your Hangar or fly in Star Citizen," write the company in a more recent marketing email. "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."
One person who submitted an ASA complaint, however, told Eurogamer the new disclaimer is still deceptive because it indicates that concept ships will eventually be playable, and suggested that guarantee is "extremely misleading."