Crowdfunding isn’t profitable for Star Citizen

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Star Citizen

To say that Star Citizen is a crowdfunding success is an understatement. Sitting on a pile of pledges that is now over the $55 million mark, Star Citizen has set one hell of a benchmark for other games looking for crowd support. But don’t expect that cash to be used to finance massive parties and airline flights with seating that happens to be in Illuminati class. It’s all going straight into the development of Star Citizen.

In a new Letter From the Chairman on Roberts Space Industries, Chris Roberts explained why the project was still accepting pledges after so much cash had already been spent on the game.

“I have a lot of industry friends pat me on the back and say, Wow, it must be so great to be operating in profit even before you ship! Their look usually turns to incredulity when I explain that my intention is for all the money we bring in before launch to be spent on development,” Roberts wrote.

It is the community, from the existing backers who continue to support the game, to new members who join every day who are setting the level of ambition and budget for Star Citizen. Every effort is about enriching the game’s vision. Funding to date has allowed us to go so far beyond what I thought was possible in 2012. You’re still getting that game, no question, but it will be all the richer and so much more immersive because of the additional funding.

Because of this, Roberts wrote that he had to “toss aside” his ideas about the traditional development of game design and development.

“I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012),” Roberts said.

If you combine our in-house staff and outsourced developers, we now number more than 280 people. Your support has created a significant number of jobs in the gaming industry. If we had raised the original amount and no more, we wouldn’t be able to deliver involved capital ship systems or the level of FPS gameplay that we are now planning for planets in the Persistent Universe. Nor would have the time or budget to continually upgrade the game with new features like Physically Based Rendering (PBR), or continually strive to make the art assets better.

Closing off the speech, Roberts said that players need not feel obliged to pay more than they want to for the game beyond it’s current RRP to gain access. If they want any of the other features or bonuses, these can be earned in-game. Buying new spaceships however, will most likely be one of the key money-makers in Star Citizen. As beautiful as they are, they have price tags to match those digital curves. But doing so allows the universe of the game to be more diverse, says Roberts.

“The new ships add interesting new gameplay and populating the future Persistent Universe with a range of different ships, flown by players pursuing all kinds of professions, will only add to the richness of the game once it’s fully live,” he said.

That’s what Star Citizen is about: the creative freedom to build something unlike anything that has been done before and the ability to do it with the support of a community that is as passionate about this game as I am. We want to make the Best Damn Space Sim Ever, and with your continued support I know we will.

As much as I’d like to see such a diverse universe, I sure as hell won’t be throwing down R700 and upwards for a spaceship to help that “vision”. Hopefully, there’s a way to earn such a vehicle in-game, which would be far more attractive to me.

Last Updated: October 2, 2014

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