OCT. 1, 2014 • Cloud Imperium Games Corp. reports that it has topped the $55 million mark in crowdfunding for its PC space sim, Star Citizen. That makes this the best-funded game using that investment model and the title remains the most funded project of any kind, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Guinness bestowed the titled after Star Citizen reached $40 million in pledges. The title has been in development for two years and currently employs close to 300 people between in-house staff and out-sourced designers.
Impact: Star Citizen reached the $52 million mark only on August 25. Gaining an additional $3 million in little more than a month is telling for a project that has been crowdfunding for so long. Cloud Imperium founder Chris Roberts has been using each $1 million goal as a trigger for a new major feature in the Star Citizen. Yet in a novel twist, the Roberts Space Industries studio is regularly making available new spacecraft models available for purchase, which is spurring further pledges. Rather than rely on the traditional release when the game is done model, Roberts is following a play-as-we-go model. As new features become robust enough to access, investors are encouraged to play the game in progress. It is a savvy strategy to combat the indictment of constant feature creep. Supposedly, if people can share in the game now and experience its progress, the extended finish date is less of an irritant. Roberts says the company is maintaining a healthy cash reserve so if funding ceased immediately, all of the promised goals could be completed. Star Citizen has grown into a fairly complex affair. It is a persistent world title, which makes Star Citizen an online game as a service business. In that context, the title will never completely be finished. The game is ambitious with an involved spacecraft FPS system with Physically Based Rendering, which is a new means of delivering photorealistic lighting and shading of digital creations. Star Citizen has morphed into a unique animal with little to compare it with. Even if Star Citizen remains a great success we doubt another title could mimic the same funding and development path. In that light, the game would become something like World of Warcraft, which grew to be such a huge endeavor in scope and revenue that no subsequent MMO has been able to match it. Other studios should, therefore, not set their sights on competing with Star Citizen in crowdfunding development when PC games such as Wasteland 2 provide a much more attainable target.