Character slots are ...
|“|| Just to clarify, [...] the system we are proposing only increases the options that you have - I don't see how it is a cash grab or something that takes away from what most people were expecting (and what most online games give you)
Normally in a standard non subscription MMO setup you would have one character. If you want to play multiple characters simultaneously (say your scenario of an explorer / salvager or a smuggler or miner) you would have to open multiple accounts. You could of course do all these things from one character (there's no reason why you couldn't be an explorer / salvager / miner that does some smuggling on the side). Star Citizen by its design lets you be / do whoever you want to be. There are no class restrictions - you want to be a law abiding citizen and then "break bad" and become a pirate you can. This is a core tenant of the design. You should not think of Star Citizen the way you would a traditional MMO with tightly bound character classes that force you to have different characters (tank, healer, ranged etc) for different roles. Our versions of multiple classes are really the multiple ships you have in your hangar.
The solution we proposed was to address the issue of people have multiple game packages but wanting to combine all the assets under one character but not lose the value of their "game keys" (which in our in-fiction setup become Character Slots). This allows people to get a benefit from a game package they were feeling they were losing, either by gifting to a friend to join them as crew (or buy just a ship and join the game), play multiple characters from the same account (as opposed to having to open up separate accounts) or by turning the slot into a customizable character for their crew (think the tight knit crew of the Serenity)
Also to be clear when a Character Slot NPC dies, you get to create another one to take his place, much like you would create a successor in the Death of a Spaceman mechanic. If you've designated a Character Slot NPC as your Character's successor, then the Character Slot NPC becomes your player character and you can chose to have your deceased player character slot either go back into your Character Slot pool or turn him / her into a Character Slot NPC (think of it as recruiting a new team member after the death of another)
We are only offering people the ability to buy additional Character Slots as if we didn't we would get a lot of people complaining they don't want to have to buy a full package just to get an additional character or have the ability to customize an NPC. Its actually financially worse for us as previously you would need to buy a game package to get in the game or play multiple characters at once. Now we're allowing a cheaper (but more limited) option. Please remember that I want the game to only require the purchase of a base game package and after that you should be able to pay for free if you want - there is nothing outside the initial game package (which a character slot is a baby version of) that is only purchasable by money. Everything else, ships, equipment, real estate is all purchasable via UEC credits which can be earned via gameplay.
Once Star Citizen is live creating ongoing content, new functionality and running online servers costs money. As Star Citizen isn't a subscription MMO our only sources of revenue to support these ongoing costs are initial game packages, Squadron 42 sized single player stories (think Wing Commander mission packs) and the people willing to trade some money for UEC as they don't have the time or patience to earn in game. There's a lot of people out there that think I'm crazy for taking this route (as most online games have a lot of cash only game items to generate money via micro-transactions) but I'm betting that Star Citizen with its low overhead will do well enough to allow us to continue to manage and expand the universe, even if we don't bring in the money the way World of Tanks, World of Warcraft or League of Legends do.
–Chris Roberts on September 27, 2013