i see people looking at this without enough nuance, they are seeing it black and white "no its not a scam" or "its a scam hes a con artist" etc. etc.
but i think its a much more grey area here. the facts of the situation, the ground truth is that people have shelled out lots of money for virtual products in a game that doesnt exist (yet).. and in that respect, so far it is EFFECTIVELY a scam and a "rip off"
it doesnt matter what Christ Roberts intentions are.. thats beside the point, because im sure his intention is to build the best video game of all time which surpasses all forms of entertainment and becomes a literal experience of ultimate paradise which grants total enlightenment, etc. etc. and so forth...
however, the realities of actual day-to-day life that require the completion of many small efforts in many parallel series combined into many cohesive threads which are woven into many fabrics, etc. etc. and so forth - this is another story altogether than "intention"
so the reality is that people are simply funding his ongoing dreams, and their minor tertiary activities like making test demos and cutscenes and room simulators, and of course the glorious SHIPSSSSSS - with which to keep the fires of the passions stoked, to keep the thralls hypnotized en masse so their devotion shall not wane... again, not intentionally, just effectively
people know how to do these things reflexively and instinctually, like throwing a ball or catching it.. its not necessarily planned out like a mustache twirling guy in a black hat
the main thing that Christ Roberts cant admit to himself is that his obsession with his vision is overriding his (and everyone elses) ability to actually manifest it in any kind of effective way... its just very clear from all the changes in direction and the feature creep to end all feature creeps, the haphazard "module" demos, the rambling blog posts and social media bullshit, and all the rest.
its not on the up and up, its been imploding for a while now.. we'll see what happens next, but i doubt its going to be rosy