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The Star Citizen CCU / Upgrades Issue in Layman’s Terms – How Star Citizen is “Optimizing” by Taking Away Purchased Items and Accidentally Purging Purchased Ships

In the "this is the time for this change" department.
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You may hear about how Cloud Imperium Games is removing CCUs from the game and that from within the cult, you’ll hear how this is okay and great for Star Citizen (everything is) and you’ll hear the opposite from those with CCU’s (Cross-Chassis Upgrades). To understand how this is an issue, you need to understand a lot of how the ship pledges have worked over the years.

If you do understand the issue, you need to check your list of purchases and make sure that nothing else was removed. In addition to the $0 CCU tokens, many players have found their entire pledge packages removed. There is no “ship” list in Star Citizen, but instead a list of packages that you have purchased, making it all that extra confusing to see if CIG wants you to re-buy something you’ve already purchased.

To note, this is a confusing system – I’ve done my best to break this down but I could be wrong. The threads in regards to ship transfers are long, confusing and use a lot of Star Citizen specific lingo.

Ship Pledges – Concept Ships Just Aren’t Final

One issue with a game that hasn’t released, but is selling microtransactions, is that over time old ships have to be reworked because the ship library is ever expanding and there is some need to balance all of the ships to make sense of everything. If for instance, a new mechanic is added to the game and specs are given for that mechanic to every ship, then a ship you purchased might not be as good as it was when you bought it. Likewise, a ship might need to be upgraded or downgraded and it could impact its price over time.

The need to move between ships was born and thus the old “cross-chassis upgrades” or CCU system, which is now called the upgrade system. You simply choose one ship and then another ship on the upgrades page and pay the difference between the two and voila. You can even “melt” your purchase down (the entire pledge package) for what you paid for it and then apply that to purchase another ship set as another way of “jumping ship” to another one.

Of course, as a benefit to backing the game, CIG included $0 “CCUs” with specific packages before 2017 as a way to give you a bit of insurance that if you didn’t like the specific ship that you got in your package, you could for free swap to a similar ship.

In simple terms, you can upgrade the ship within a pledge package to another ship by paying the difference in cost between the ships. For awhile, free upgrades between comparable (and at the time same priced) ships were included in a package to allow players the freedom to buy a ship and change their mind later.

Melting Away Your Money

Of course, players worked out that you could buy packages including the $0 CCU that have the bonuses that you want like LTI (Lifetime Insurance) and then swap to another ship, which might be in a more expensive package with all of those same features. Then as time moved on, some ships were increased in price, but the $0 CCU would still allow you to freely switch between the two.

There also isn’t a limit to the number of upgrades you can perform, so some ingenious Star Citizens realized they could use the $0 CCUs to chain upgrades in such a way that they could spend a total of $155 for a ship worth $350 (approx.). The process involved using the $0 CCUs to switch between ships that would then have a cheaper upgrade cost to another ship that you could then use a $0 CCU to jump to another ship and repeat the process until you’re at where you want to be.

CIG wasn’t pleased with this behavior and ended the $0 CCU tokens sometime in 2017. Then in 2019 they gave a month’s notice that on May 1st all $0 CCU tokens will be expired in the system. That’s just a month’s warning.

Two Sides of a Coin

On the first side of the coin, you have those who believe the $0 CCUs were exploits, that CIG owes no one anything and that just because your purchase included it, doesn’t mean you have the right to it. It’s a function of the game and your money is a simple donation. There was a year notice (more on that) as well to the invalidation coming at some point. It’s everyone’s fault to not read every announcement thread and keep their eyes locked on Star Citizen daily for updates.

On the other side:

  • CIG posted its warnings on a forum, not many players were able to see it.
  • Players purchased the CCUs with real life money and no longer have them.
  • There were more graceful ways to solve the problem, like limiting the number of CCUs held to an account or making it where the token would only work once per ship.
  • Little notice was given for the deletion of the $0 CCU tokens.
  • Many players assumed the $0 CCUs would remain until beta, not another alpha build.
  • Players are finding other purchases removed as a consequence of this change as well.

Ultimately my opinion is that this is obviously a way to increase revenue. Someone had to purchase something to obtain a CCU and there are way more graceful ways to not only communicate the change but also solve any kind of “exploits” or “gaming” of the system that CIG designed.

This can be really confusing outside looking in. Seriously confusing, at least for me. Because you buy the upgrades and then apply the upgrades in the game. Melting ships for instance can result in store credit, but some items can’t be purchased with store credit. It’s a lot and you need to, if you’re invested (emotionally, let us all remember that pledges are donations to the loving CIG empire and hope, not purchases) it’s probably best to just zealously follow the forums for more future ways CIG will implement to change what you thought you bought.

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