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Star Citizen backer loses court case for $4,500 refund

Arbitration clause in end-user license agreement protects developer RSI from refund claims in court

A judge has ruled in favour of Star Citizen developer Roberts Space Industries after a crowdfunding backer took the company to court requesting a refund for nearly $4,500.

Ken Lord, a data scientists from Colorado, pledged the sum to Star Citizen in April 2013 expecting the game to release no later than 2016.

The case appeared before a judge in a California small claims court late last week.

Lord's prepared argument included multiple version of the terms of service, complete records of his communication with RSI, and a document detailing the 77 promises RSI had failed to fulfil.

Despite this, an arbitration clause in the end-user license agreement prevents anyone from taking RSI to court for a refund, and the case was never made. RSI also declined Lord's offer to settle for $3,800.

Although the ruling went against him, Lord said he intends to keep fighting.

"I'm going to pursue it further," he told Motherboard. "I'm not sure in what direction. I'm going to be speaking with a couple of different attorneys to evaluate my options."

RSI told Motherboard that it only considers refunds outside of the 30-day window in "exceptional cases" and that its policy is "actually very generous when compared to nearly any other gaming company".

Star Citizen was originally funded on Kickstarter to the tune of $2 million in 2012. Since then, RSI has continued to raise staggering amounts of cash through its own crowdfunding efforts, reaching a total of $190 million.

Lord, who suffers from multiple sclerosis said that the game had changed so much from its original scope -- with the inclusion of new game modes such as Squadron 42 -- and he would actually be unable to play it with his condition.

"My hands shake badly," he said. "I have tremors...They just recently confirmed that you have to do the first-person shooter thing to get through Squadron 42. I can't do that, I just can't do that. So my money's stuck in a game I can't possibly play."

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Ivy Taylor avatar

Ivy Taylor

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Ivy joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.

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