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The Escapist faces possible legal action over Star Citizen exposé

Cloud Imperium has denied accusations of mishandling funds and workplace discrimination, claims unethical journalistic practice

Cloud Imperium Games is considering legal action against The Escapist, following the publication of an article that accuses the Star Citizen developer of improper and even illegal working practices.

The Escapist's article, which can be found via this link, was based on the testimony of several unnamed sources, all of whom came forward after the publication of another article, titled, "Eject! Eject! Is Star Citizen Going To Crash And Burn?"

The first article explores concerns regarding Cloud Imperium's use of the $90 million it has raised through various crowdfunding channels, and the way Star Citizen has changed and grown since that process first started - specifically some allegedly silent alterations to the game's terms of service.

The much longer second article goes further, with sources accusing CEO Chris Roberts of being "incredibly arrogant" in his pursuit of more funding, despite having, "no concept of what can and can't be done today with that amount of money." It also contains allegation of discriminatory hiring practices against Sandi Gardiner - Cloud Imperium's marketing director and Roberts' wife - including using age and race as grounds to turn down applicants. The articles claims extend to the running of the business, portraying CLoud Imperium as a company, "Bleeding both money and employees."

"The Escapist...stands by its coverage of Star Citizen and intends to continue to investigate the developing story"

Official statement from The Escapist

Cloud Imperium's official response arrived shortly after, in the form of a five-page letter to The Escapist's managing editor, John Keefer, highlighting his legal responsibility for signing off on both the article and a subsequent podcast that discussed the matter further.

Cloud Imperium stated that The Escapist had, "violated the most basic rules and ethics in journalism in failing to properly vet your sources and giving the affected party with an opportunity to refute these ridiculous, highly slanderous and easily disproven allegations." The "deliberate intention" of the article, the letter stated, was "inflicting emotional distress and financial harm" on those involved.

The letter closes with a demand of reparations, including apologies, a retraction and a full investigation into the way the article was researched. Cloud Imperium asked for a response before the end of the working day yesterday (Monday October 5), or it would instigate legal proceedings. Since then, The Escapist has published the following statement:

"The Escapist, notwithstanding Cloud Imperium Games' notice and posting, stands by its coverage of Star Citizen and intends to continue to investigate the developing story. Since publishing our original stories, we have been contacted by, and are currently interviewing, additional sources corroborating a variety of the reported allegations. Additionally, if Mr. Roberts' offer for The Escapist to "meet the developers making the game and see how we're building one of the most ambitious PC games first hand" remains open, we take the opportunity to accept such invitation so as to hopefully provide the public with sufficient information and opportunity to vet such sources' allegations and claims for themselves. We have also communicated the foregoing directly to Cloud Imperium Games."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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