Indie game ‘Star Citizen’ collects a record $200 million in crowdfunding

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Star Citizen crowd funding phenomenon
Courtesy of Roberts Space Industries

“Star Citizen,” the insanely ambitious independent PC title that’s been in development since 2012, recently surpassed $200 million in crowdfunding support, “the highest total for any project in the history of crowdfunding,” according to the game’s developer, Roberts Space Industries.

Community Support

The company’s chairman, Chris Roberts, announced the milestone in a letter to the “Star Citizen” community, emphasizing the unique nature of their enterprise.

“The true celebration is one of how a community came together to enable a shared dream to come to life,” Roberts wrote. “How gamers from all over the world came together to finance one of the biggest and most ambitious projects ever embarked on. There is no publisher. No big conglomerate. This is all grassroots, funded by gamers for gamers.”

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In a behind-the-scenes video about the project, Roberts spoke about how “Star Citizen” supporters—a truly global contingent representing 171 different nations—are helping shape the game’s universe, literally.

“From day one, the DNA of the company has been about community engagement,” Roberts said. “And I think that’s the fuel that is helping us build a game of the ambition of ‘Star Citizen.’”

Donate and Wait

While a project of this scope will obviously take considerable time to develop, the patience of some “Star Citizen” supporters is being tested. Development began in earnest in 2012 with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, yet “Star Citizen” remains in alpha testing and Screen Rant notes that it appears “years and years away from any sort of ‘completed’ 1.0 release.”

And although the trailer for a single-player campaign called “Squadron 42” was unveiled at the fan event CitizenCon in October, it too is without a release date. The game features motion-capture performances from actors like Gary Oldman, Mark Hamill, Henry Cavill, Gillian Anderson, and others.

Still, Roberts Space Industry is being remarkably transparent about the methodical production process, publishing a full development roadmap of “Star Citizen” on its site (a similar roadmap for “Squadron 42” is expected to be released next month). And it’s apparent from the gorgeously detailed trailers that “Star Citizen” is an immaculately rendered experience; as Roberts notes in his letter, “I look at the technology we must complete to achieve the vision and realize we are nearer to the end than the start.”

Crowdsource of Power

The crowdsourcing success story of “Star Citizen” is but one of many examples of how tech entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of collaborative effort. The Burn-In recently spoke with Sabih Khan, Vice President of Innovation at Surcle.io, which is breaking ground in crowd engineering.

“It’s a similar concept to crowdsourcing, but we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the ‘meta’ and emphasize the crowd is working more toward engineering,” Khan said.

“Star Citizen” is also earning revenue from its plush in-game purchases, where starships can cost in excess of $1,000 dollars. While that’s certainly not a “microtransaction,” it’s similar to the underlying business of “Fortnite,” the massively popular game that powered Epic Games to a recent $15 billion valuation.

All of this is good news for Cloud Imperium Games, the company behind “Star Citizen” and Roberts Space Industries. While fans and supporters may still be waiting for more, the bold vision of the developers has already been validated. As Robert wrote in his letter, “These uncharted frontiers of game development and funding mirror the draw of the game itself; the lure of distant planets to explore, realized to an unprecedented detail and scale.”