Racking in more than 200 times its original asking price, the crowdfunded space simulator Star Citizen earlier this week reached a landmark 100 million in backer dollars.At the same time, developer Cloud Imperium released version 2.0 of the game’s Alpha build.
Alpha 2.0 is billed as the biggest Star Citizen update yet, as it features more pieces of Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts’ ambitious vision for the space trading and combat simulator.
The update puts to use the Star Citizen’s multi-crew component, which enables players to cooperate in manning and protecting some of the game’s larger space ships around the Stanton solar system. The action is anchored by the gravity of the gas giant Crusader.
There’s an Armistice Zone outside of Port Olisar, a launchpad into the Stanton System. Outside of that fire-free zone, however, it’s weapons-free, and players can shoot at anyone or anything as long as they’re willing to deal with the consequential round of fire volleyed in response.
Crusader’s three moons provide plenty to explore, and there’s a little bit of story to make use of the game’s first-person shooter component. On the ground, players can join Crusader Industries’ security forces, combating pirates who deployed technology to create a communications black zone to blanket illegal activities.
Of course, Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 introduces more ships to the game. Ships have played a major role in attracting backer dollars.
Roberts’ $100 Million Baby
Roberts initially hoped to raise a modest $500,000, but received $2 million in crowdfunding when he laid out his vision for the game.
As Roberts’ “ultimate vision for a PC-only space game,” Star Citizen eliminated the costly fees that a third-party crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter would charge, and raised $100 million on its own, noted Mario Kroll, principal at berStrategist.
“Sadly, the game still has announced no completion date and seems to have added features and scope in proportion to — or perhaps greater than — the steadily growing budget, or should I say funding,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Star Citizen’s budget is bigger than multiplatform role-playing game The Witcher 3, Kroll pointed out, adding that $100 million seemed excessive for a PC-only title.
However, considering the scale and complexity of the game, $100 million may be comfortable, but not unreasonable, suggested Ted Pollak, senior analyst for the games industry at Jon Peddie Research.
It appears to be enough for the release and to support the game for a while afterward, he said.
“With $100 million, the game is well funded and he should have the resources now to go full speed in pushing this game towards a retail quality build,” Pollak told TechNewsWorld. “That said, I believe it’s always been his plan to never stop development of this game, because the content is infinite.”
The Fan Foundation
After work or school, or spending an adequate amount of time socializing, Star Citizen cadets can hop into a spaceship they earned to collect bounties and trade resources mined from asteroids.
They can land on a planet or dock at a space station and shop for new parts for those ships, because the rigors of combat and bad parking wear on individual components or groups of them.
They can upgrade those ships for improved acceleration, turn precision, shields, weapons, transport capabilities and more.
It’s that depth of realism and detail that has helped Star Citizen emerge both as one of the most ambitious space flight games ever and one of the most criticized titles of any time.
“Consumers, drooling at the possibilities, probably with nostalgia for Wing Commander and others, answered with their wallets,” Kroll said.
Despite glimpses of what could be possible, and a star-studded cast of voiceover talent for the campaign mode, there’s still no complete game or anything approaching it, he observed.
“Hats off to Chris Roberts for being able to rally fan enthusiasm to a point where people are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on virtual spacecraft that hopefully will be flyable at some point when the game comes closer to completion,” said Kroll.
Fans “so far have been fairly patient and largely enthusiastic about what little functional aspects of Star Citizen are available and are being slowly doled out,” he added.
Star Citizen either will raise the bar in game development and serve as a “hallmark case study” for high-profile game crowdfunding, or Roberts may outdo Curt Schilling and 38 Studios in failing to meet expectations, according to Kroll.
“It’s a potentially dangerous game that Cloud Imperium is playing,” he said.
Declining to announce a release date protects the studio from making unrealistic promises in an industry where delays are common and generally are met with complaints from vocal fans, Kroll pointed out.
Fans are generally patient “until they aren’t,” he quipped. “Here’s hoping we get one of the best PC games ever, representing a great way that $100 million plus was spent, rather than Chris Roberts needing to dodge angry gamers with pitchforks and torches at the drawbridge of his moated castle.”