Upcoming massively multiplayer space sim, Star Citizen, just hit $37 million in crowdsourced funds.
That's officially 74 times the amount set as its original $500,000 Kickstarter goal. $500,000 goal, hardy-har! CEO Chris Roberts, mastermind behind Star Citizen and the venerated Wing Commander series, was being embarrassingly modest when he set that goal. But who knew? Star Citizen was already on its way to becoming the highest crowdfunded project ever. Not just on Kickstarter. Not just in video games. But like, ever.
Despite the Kickstarter campaign ending November 19, 2012, Star Citizen still pulled in between $45,000 and $58,000 per day last week. Its nearly 370,000 backers have dropped about $100 apiece. Not shabby for a game that only costs $30 to get in on the ground floor. ($40 if you want in on the unscheduled alpha and beta testing.) Star Citizen is an MMO, but will only charge a one-time fee, a la Guild Wars. An in-game store, however, will keep Roberts' money coffers stuffed.
These million-dollar stretch goals, however, are getting thin. That last stretch goal – the one that got Star Citizen from $36 million to $37 million – reportedly unlocked, as far as I can tell, one additional star system. For scale, Star Citizen added a new star system for every $100,000 pledged, back when the game was reaching for a paltry $4 million. Then, once it had hit $6 million, they already guaranteed 100 star systems in the game. Star systems have effectively gone from $60,000 a piece to $1 million a pop. Know what the $38 million stretch goal will get you? One more star system. The last system stretch goal – which skips $39 million and goes straight for $40 million – will net you one of three things: a lost colony, a ghost world, or a science outpost. We're not even talking star systems anymore for your millions of dollars; we're talking (maybe) a planet, or (maybe) a station.
That's why we can all stop crowdfunding Star Citizen now. That's all, folks. Wrap it up. Great job. The Law of Diminishing Returns makes it apparent that their stretch goals have stretched about as far as they can stretch. I think Roberts' team would like to just finish what's already on their enormous plate, thank you.
But who am I kidding? I just put that $30 starter package in my Roberts Space Industries shopping cart, and I suspect I won't be the last one to do so. Heck, I'm being a cheapskate. Remember: the average player has already thrown down a Benjamin to be able to play earlier and with bigger, badder ships than I'll start off with at my measly $30. But that's the kicker: I'm basically putting in a pre-order, even though it's going under the guise of "crowdfunding." There are arguments that crowdfunding is a risk, not an investment, but let's not kid ourselves with that either. We're getting the game. Roberts will deliver. But when does crowdfunding officially become pre-purchasing, exactly? At what frothy amount did that happen?
In Roberts' latest Letter from the Chairman, he's still gracious enough to sound humble about it all. "You've pushed Star Citizen to $37 million in crowdfunding! And that amount is only one of the numbers I'm having trouble believing today." Roberts goes on to say that players have created 4,924 player-run Organizations in the first 12 hours of the Organization system having gone online. Star Citizen players are hungry! And they want to play together in Organizations!
But they'll have to wait. Star Citizen has an estimated Q1 2015 release. No dates on open alpha or beta testing either. Star Citizen is, however, releasing "modules" for players to test. The first was the Hangar Module, allowing players to walk around their already-purchased ships (that's what some of your pledge dollars gets you) in a 3D environment. The hangar gives you the ability to tryout different payloads and armament arrangements. It's basically the longest pre-flight check anyone's ever participated in.
Roberts plans to collect crowdfunding dollars up until launch date. Were Star Citizen to keep up its current rate of funding, pulling in about $54,000 per day, Star Citizen should tally somewhere between $2.8 and $3.2 billion by early 2015. But that can't happen, right? I mean, Star Citizen hopefuls have to run out of money sometime. Right?