There’s your ordinary crowdfunded video game, and then there’s Star Citizen. Because while most devs are happy to pick up a million or two to kickstart their project during a crowdfunding campaign (as was the case with top-notch games such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Kingdom Come: Deliverance), Star Citizen’s crowdfunding campaign has already amassed a whopping $242 million US dollars.
And the cash keeps flowing in, with thousands of backers pledging money to a project which has been in development for a long seven years. Another way in which developer Cloud Imperium Games and its head honcho Chris Roberts have been raising money to keep Star Citizen going is via the sale of spaceships (no, not real space-faring vessels, but virtual spaceships which can be flown in the game, a rough alpha version of which is already available).
But when will the full game be complete is a different matter, and of the 100 promised star systems players will be able to explore in the complete game, not one has been finished to date as was outlined in a recent report by Forbes.
More worrying are the game’s development troubles, as it appears legendary video game designer Chris Roberts might be steering Star Citizen off course with the way he’s been managing things since the game took off back in 2012.
“As the money rolled in, what I consider to be some of [Roberts’] old bad habits popped up—not being super-focused”, says Mark Day, who produced one of Roberts’ earlier games, and whose company worked on Star Citizen years ago.
Others who’ve worked on Star Citizen have complained that Roberts’ desire to micromanage things has gotten in the way at times.
So said former Cloud Imperium Games dev David Jennison, who was lead character artist at the company. Jennison explained that he could only complete five characters in a 17-month span of time due to Roberts reversing approvals for his characters, saying that “this was a companywide pattern – CR dictates all”.
All this is happening as developer Cloud Imperium Games keeps blowing through the millions raised via crowdfunding (according to Forbes, Roberts only had $14 million US dollars left in the bank by late 2017).
This begs the question of whether Star Citizen will ever be finished – the game seems stuck in a never-ending cycle of raising funds via crowdfunding and selling in-game spaceships while the budget is blown on marketing to keep raising funds and keep selling more spaceships…
Cloud Imperium Games is now close to raising $250 million in crowdfunding, but by the time the game is done this could easily get to $500 million or even $1 billion US dollars, as crazy as this sounds.
At least Roberts and CIG are promising that Squadron 42 – a single player campaign with big name actors set in the Star Citizen universe – will likely see the light of day next year. Of course, the cynical might raise and eyebrow and say that the presence of big name actors like Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman in Squadron 42 is a ploy to fuel the game’s marketing and therefore its crowdfunding campaign – something I am inclined to agree with.
Here’s hoping, though, that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 end up seeing the light of day in the not too distant future, then, and that those who pledged cash to the project get the game they are wishing for someday.