Another turn in the ever-exciting world of Star Citizen drama took place over the weekend, as Cloud Imperium Games published a legal demand letter sent to Defy Media (parent company of The Escapist).
Said letter demands a retraction of a recently published article that made a number of serious accusations against CIG’s vice president of marketing Sandi Gardiner and the company’s Human Resources department.
Along with a retraction of the article, which the CIG legal team characterise as “violating the most basic journalistic duties” and “grossly negligent”, the letter demands a published, personal apology to Ms. Gardiner and the CIG HR manager. It also tells Defy Media to “empower” an independent body to investigate the circumstances surrounding the creation and publication of the piece.
If Defy Media does not comply with these demands by “End of day Monday [5 October]”, then CIG claims it will “prepare legal action in the US and UK against the individuals and entities involved”.
It’s not entirely clear which time-zone CIG’s squadron of lawyers is going to use for this deadline, but it’s probably safe to assume it’ll be either east or west coast US time.
The Escapist article cited seven anonymous sources who spoke extremely candidly about Star Citizen management, alleged misuse of backer funds, and, the accusation which prompted this response from CIG, discriminatory hiring practices within the company. The publication has subsequently defended their source-vetting process.
CIG’s legal demand letter does not appear to directly refute the identity of the sources, referring to them at one point as “a small group of disgruntled former employees”, but does claim that the verification of one employee by his or her ‘company ID card’ is dubious as CIG does not issue such cards.
It also gives the publication short-shrift for setting a “unilateral deadline” that, the letter states, gave CIG very little time to properly respond to the serious allegations contained within the article.
At the time of writing, Defy Media have not responded publicly to these demands.
[Update]: Now they have, the original piece now states: “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.”
And, in the interests of disclosing things, I should add that I have freelanced for The Escapist in the past (albeit several years ago).