Very few games, including major triple-A titles, can hold the attention of gamers for longer than a few months. Game developers and publishers spend millions of dollars promoting their games before launch, as gamer attention can be fleating. It doesn’t seem to take much to steal away a gamer’s attention, so when a game is able to hold that attention for a long time, it usually means there’s something very special about it.
In the last couple years, there have only been a few games that have garnered massive and continued focus for months – and even years – leading up to its release. Two of the most prominent are Destiny and Grand Theft Auto V. But there’s another game that continues to grab headlines and strong support – Star Citizen. The crowdfunded game has yet to be released in its entirety, but doesn’t seem to be losing any of its incredible momentum and popularity among gamers.
So far, Star Citizen has over $73 million dollars in funding – an amount even huge studios would love access to. The game’s record-breaking crowdfunding has set a new precedent in the industry for indie game funding.
Creating a New Genre
Creator Chris Roberts is also looking to set another precedent with Star Citizen: a game that crosses so many genre lines it stands in a genre by itself – a genre Roberts calls a First-Person Universe. In an interview with GameIndustry, Roberts said:
"We've started to call it a first-person universe because you can fly around in space, but you also walk around on foot in full first-person fidelity equivalent to any AAA title out there. You can shoot people, but you can also trade with people. There are all these different things you can do, so it's essentially a virtual reality we're building in this future sci-fi universe."
By making games like Star Citizen and No Man’s Sky, small game developers are looking to rewrite the rules of open-world games. And it’s obvious that gamers welcome the change with open arms. As some would say, gamers have spoken with their wallets, at least in the case of Star Citizen. It’s very likely the game will reach Roberts’ goal of $100 million.
Too Big to Play it All
The potential for a game like Star Citizen is huge. It goes beyond just a simple space simulator, and drops players into an entirely new universe, where they can fight, travel, discover and trade. It takes what we know of open-world massive multiplayer online (MMO) games and expands them to the point that players will be physically incapable of doing everything there is to do in the game.
However, having ambitions that big means spending a lot of time and money on development. It also means a lot of opportunities for bugs and issues. That’s why Roberts says his team won’t release the game until it’s done - a smart move, especially after seeing how the faults of games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Halo: The Master Chief Collection caused serious issues for their developers.
The full game of Star Citizen is expected to release in 2016. However, with such an ambitious project, developer Cloud Imperium Games recently conducted a Public Test Universe, where players could experience new features in the game and provide feedback. Backers can also get familiar with their ship’s controls and experience space flight through Arena Commander, a dogfighting module that gives players a peek into the Star Citizen universe.
For those who are interested, gamers can still back the project by going to the Roberts Space Industries website. There are many funding options available.
Star Citizen is available now on Early Access for PC and Linux. The full game is set to release in 2016.