Chris Roberts – the mind behind Wing Commander, Starlancer, Freelancer, etc. -unveiled the project that marked his return to video games just under a year ago in October 2012. Dubbed Star Citizen, the unveiling trailer featured in-game footage from their first year of development and it looked as impressive as it did exciting. For a genre long seen dead to the big publishers, the ideas behind Star Citizen and what it would offer players were almost monumental.
It was that amount of work before announcing the game, highlighted by beautiful visuals and a promise of a triple-A next-gen experience for PC players that made Chris Roberts’ words bankable, so much so that Star Citizen immediately earned the support of longtime space fans. It made a load of money before even hitting the popular Kickstarter crowdfunding service and that move helped it earn even more media attention.
From a full-on single player story campaign that allows for co-op to being able to bypass it entirely and engage in whatever quests, piracy, etc. you want and explore the stars. From the ability to step out of the captain’s chair and walk around your own (or another player’s) vessel and hop into a gun turret to fight off pirates, or to launch out in a smaller fighter and participate in an assault. From being able to play in first and third-person and participate in boarding assaults, to the built-in support of Oculus Rift. From being able to play in an official persistent universe without a subscription fee and being able to host your own private servers that will fully support community mods. It was everything space sims tried to be over a decade ago and it was being seemingly built by the fans for the fans. But can such a project deliver on these lofty expectations?
In the months since its Kickstarter, Star Citizen has hit milestone after milestone, becoming the most successful crowdfunded project ever (a while ago) thanks to users pledging on their own official site and now setting the record so high, it’s going to be near impossible to surpass. It took one week for Star Citizen and developer Cloud Imperium Games to move from $16 million to $17 million, and only one more week to gain another million. Four days ago Star Citizen hit the $18 million mark out of its $20 million expected original budget, and in the four days since, it’s raised another $500,000 and – at the current rate – will be at $19 million within the next week.
A message from Chris Roberts:
When we first proposed Squadron 42 and Star Citizen, the goal was to bring back space sims and prove that PC games never died. We thought that was an important goal worthy of our effort and your support. We never dreamed that you would take that even farther and become our partners in changing how games are developed. As always, thank you.
For hitting $18 million, you unlock the “exclusive star system for backers.” There’s been some confusion about what exactly this means. To clarify, what it means is that backers that got us to the $18 million goal will have the ability to start their journey in a system that is unavailable to others as a starting point. The only home base hangars there will belong to those that supported us early in the process! It would be immersion-breaking if backers couldn’t eventually share the jump coordinates of the system with other users… but no one else will have the option of starting a character there.
Reaching this point also means that it’s time to reveal our penultimate planned stretch goal, the $20 million level. While goals will continue after $21 million, they will take a new form representative of what additional funding can add to the game!
What that means is, if Star Citizen can maintain the buzz (and hence, the funding momentum) by adding more features to its Hangar Module, and teasing what’s coming in the Dogfighting/Arena module this fall – a downloadable that will allow backers to actually fly their purchased ships against other players – then it will not only meet its $20 million goal by next month, but by the end of the year will destroy their original targets and have plenty of extra cash to complete the game as it was originally intended, and flesh it out with additional flyable vessels, star citizens, mission types, weapons and other features.
At $18.5 million raised at the time of this writing, the current $19 million stretch goals will unlock the following rewards for players:
- Know your foe with a Jane’s Fighting Ships style manual free in PDF form to all pledgers.
- Manage Space Stations — Players will compete to own and operate a limited number of space stations across the galaxy.
- RSI Museum will air monthly, with a new game featured each time!
And when that’ s unlocked (and it will be shortly), the biggest and most important milestone of the game’s financing ($20 million!) will unlock:
- First person combat on select lawless planets. Don’t just battle on space stations and platforms… take the fight to the ground!
After that, who knows. It’s all bonus money from there. Here’s the kicker. Star Citizen isn’t scheduled for release until November 2014 meaning it will have recouped its entire budget (and more) over a year before release. The return of triple-A space sims? Hells yes.
Star Citizen will launch in full November 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.