Despite Double Fine’s repeated delays and increased need for funding in developing their Kickstarter-powered point-and-click adventure game Broken Age, the crowdfunding movement is as strong as ever in the video game industry and the best example of this is with Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen.
Two weeks ago, Cloud Imperium Games reached the $10 million milestone as Star Citizen became the most successful crowdfunded project ever, promising a new website to maintain the momentum. With each milestone comes more media coverage and more interest, and the snowball effect has seen the game cross the $14 million mark just days after hitting the $13 million mark on July 5, 2013.
Roberts has gone on record claiming the expected cost of the game is approximately $20 million and with its release date scheduled for November 2014 there’s well over a year to surpass and destroy their planned budget. Where will all the extra money go and are the prices for buying ships, subscriptions and other in-game goodies too high?
The game’s development is already essentially paid for. There are investors ready to fund the project but the more money the team can get from players, the less they’ll need to rely on from outside sources. Some of the money has already gone into acquiring their own motion capture studio. Stretch goals for the next two million dollar milestones reveal that at $15 million, an escort carrier class playable ship will be added. And at $16 million, a multiplayer training mode will be added for players to fight friends and strangers without the risk of losing their (super expensive) ship. No insurance required for training!
Interested players can support the game’s development in various ways, the most common being pledging to different tiers in exchange for a ship and the game when it releases (with the Squadron 42 single-player campaign). At the time of this article’s publication there are six ships players can purchase, the cheapest being the basic Aurora for $25, the latest being the 300i for $55 and the other available options ranging from $60 to $225. That’s triple-digits for a single digital ship in an unreleased game, and who knows what players may be missing if better ships come out over the next year.
It’s player choice to support the product and the talented people spearheading the return of space sims and we couldn’t be happier to see this project, of the many out there, seeing such success. We grew up on these games and want them back. We’re just wondering now if the prices are a legitimate concern and if it could lead to the online world of Star Citizen becoming a pay-to-win style universe, especially with piracy and private corporations play an important role in the game. If there’s demand, RSI has every right to supply it, but with $2700 pledge tiers offering every ship to players with extra income to spend, is this creating a massive unbalance? Or does it not matter with players being able to host private servers with mods?
While the game itself won’t require subscription fees, the website offers two subscription options to support development, one for $10/month and the other for $20/month and these help fund community outreach including entertaining and informational videos and high quality brochures on the game and its space vessels. The latest video detailing the game’s integrated economy – similar to EVE Online’s – is up top and exemplifies just one facet of how deep Star Citizen will be.
There’s a bright future ahead for space sim fans, and this may be the first to let players stand up and walk around their ship, share ships with other players and hop on turrets mid-flight (Millenium Falcon style), and even partake in first-person shooter boarding raids on space stations and other vessels. Did we mention it also supports the Oculus Rift?
If you are a backer of the game, don’t forget to migrate your account over and permanently secure your username. You’ll be able to customize your profile and few all your in-game goodies in the Hangar section.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.