A year ago most people had never even heard the term crowdfunding. Here we are a year later and not only is crowdfunding an actual thing, it’s become pretty popular. While Kickstarter has become synonymous with the trend, some games it seems aren’t completely reliant on the popular crowdfunding site for all of their success. Star Citizen, a game by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, has managed to raise over six million bucks through crowdfunding, and while roughly $2 million of that was raised through Kickstarter, more than half or $4.2 million of those dollars were raised directly through the game’s site. How did they manage this? Simple, they have a good pitch and the experience to pull it off.
Here’s a little back story, a few months ago after their own custom made crowdfunding site for Star Citizen collapsed due to heavy traffic, the team headed on over to Kickstarter to continue raising cash. They were happy using their own system; Chris Roberts even said he preferred keeping the crowdfunding in-house, but problems with the site forced them to look to a more stable place to raise funds. Even though they were hesitant, they raised over $2 million through Kickstarter from over 34,000 backers.
The project’s popularity is already clear; $6 million is more than any other developer has ever raised through crowdfunding. So why does Star Citizen have so much support? First their pitch is incredibly detailed. The eleven minute video on their Kickstarter site is full of actual details about gameplay, mechanics, how the game’s engine will work, and what their plans are for the future. They even have an idea as to what their content schedule will be like.
There are really two main “hooks” that Star Citizen’s gameplay seems to be shooting for. The first is its epic scale, thanks to the $6 million they raised the game will now release with 100 completely unique and ready to explore star systems. The second is the game’s dynamic flight system which behaves more like a simulator and less like a traditional game.
Their flight system utilizes what they are calling proper Newtonian mechanics which means that essentially Spaceships in-game will adjust their trajectory and orientation just as they would in real life. This goes hand-in-hand with the flight control system and dynamic ship maneuverability. Since it all behaves more like a simulator, the thrusters and engines on the game’s ships aren’t just for show, each one of them responds realistically to the players input creating what they hope will be a rather dynamic engine. If a thruster or engine is damaged in combat or through some other means, that damage will represent a dynamic change in the player’s ability to pilot their ship.
You’re not just a ship in Star Citizen, you’re a pilot.
They also plan on repaying all of the attention they’ve received by the community by giving them the opportunity to create content for the game. Players will be able to design their own ships and submit them for approval. Approved designs will appear in the game’s store to the financial benefit of the person who created it. Chris Roberts said one of the reasons they are able to do this is because there are less restrictions since the project is funded by the community.
In fact, giving the community control over the game’s direction is part of what Star Citizen is all about. Players who make important in-game galactic discoveries, like a wormhole let’s say, may have those discoveries named after them. Player’s don’t necessarily have to become fighter pilots, they can just take off into the game and see if they can make a living doing something else.
Frequent updates, every two weeks, should help to keep the game fresh and allow developers to change the direction of the game in smaller increments. Adding a solar system is as easy as adding a new wormhole location somewhere in the existing universe.
The community’s response to this campaign is an encouraging one. There isn’t a lot of fluff in Star Citizen’s pitch. They’ve given some real details about what future players can expect and those future players have responded by giving the project their financial support. The $6 million dollars they raised represents the absolute maximum they thought they would need to create the game as their Kickstarter page shows it as their last overall funding goal.