Home Elite Dangerous takes a leaf out of Star Citizen’s book a decade later and starts selling ships for real money

Elite Dangerous takes a leaf out of Star Citizen’s book a decade later and starts selling ships for real money

Space Simulators can be big business. The two biggest in recent times, Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen have made a lot of money for their respective publishers, in Star Citizen’s case, a crazy amount of cash for a game that is not even released yet. We have also been following the early progress of Starship Simulator too, which we have extremely high hopes for now it has exited its successful Kickstarter campaign.

There is a lot of love for Elite Dangerous here at Readwrite Gaming. There are a couple of us who would list it among our most-played games. However, life takes over and now it just doesn’t get played anymore.

Coincidentally to this story, I loaded it up last night for the first time in six years, not to play yet, that is for another day, but to check it all worked and I could still access it. Spoiler, I could.

Then, this morning we get some new Elite Dangerous news across our bows as Frontier Developments, who have taken a lot of flack over the years from the community for a perceived lack of pushing the game on from the groundbreaking title it was when it came out of beta.

In a new move, Frontier will now begin to sell ships through its Elite Dangerous store for real money (via the game’s real-world currency ARX), fully kitted out as easy starter ships, instead of having to grind your way in the game to earn enough space bucks to purchase them in the traditional in-game way.

This is quite the sidestep after 10 years in the market, and one that has earned Star Citizen literally millions. While Frontier is unlikely to offer a package in the tens of thousands like Roberts Space Industries does it is still a move that could divide the player base still further.

A statement from the devs reads: “We envision these Pre-built Ships to be a quicker way for newer players to get involved in the areas they have the most interest in, or for our existing players who are considering a new career path in-game, but do not have time to devote to a new build from scratch.

A ‘Pre-built’ ship package will include instant access to a pre-fitted ship, a ship kit, and a paint job – and will typically be themed to match an activity within the game. For example, if you’re looking to jump into the current AX conflict against the Titans, the AX Combat Jumpstart package will give instant access to an Alliance Chieftain with all the necessary modules to go straight into the action within the maelstrom.”

Pay to Win?

The move has not gone down great with comments on Reddit such as:

“Hey, you gotta give it to Star Citizen. They might not be great at meeting release dates, setting realistic expectations, or making a functioning game, but they’re great at milking their player base for spaceship pixels.”

“So they basically abandoned the game, only to come back and add this? I really hope no one is stupid enough to buy into this bs. Sadly…I know some will.”

“Every time they f*** up another franchise deal they crawl back to Elite to milk the loyal fanbase with dubious practices and lackluster updates. And then they go chase a new franchise deal.”

Frontier has been struggling to hit targets recently for its expensive franchises such as the F1 Manager series.

It’s difficult not to see this as Pay to Win for long-term Elite Dangerous players, but the barrier to entry for new players is high to get to the big ships these days. It will be interesting to see if this move turns out to be a good one.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Paul McNally
Gaming Editor

Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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