Have you ever thought of crowdfunding an idea that you have? And when you do it, is it about a virtual universe? Chris Roberts did so about a year ago when he showed the world that he is going to develop a game called “Star Citizen“. This game will simulate a universe where you can live, fight, trade, make money, even die and rise again as a reincarnation of your previous life. Does it sounds boring and not for you? Some kind of boring game that can’t make money? Think again! This is already a huge success – largest crowdfunded project all categories ever – and worth understanding why it has become so huge.
Star Citizen is a success before anyone can really use it
To date Star Citizen has been funded by more than 270,000 backers in its crowdfunding endeavor, raising over US$ 22,000,000! It’s the largest crowdfunded project to date, by far! Why? And if he has succeeded to get that, we really hope that it is possible to play it a year after the funding started? No, no! It’s at least a year away until it’s in “full” operation. Some minor functions are there today, like watching the ships that you have “bought” in a hangar module and in December or so this year the first dogfighting module can be tried out by more than 270,000 players. Now we can say it’s a hype, but it’s actually true and happening now. When looking at what Star Citizen will have to offer it’s very impressive thoughts behind it. Have a look at the economy with full-scale supply and demand model or the perma-death lite describe as “death of a spaceman”. All very thought through, a real vision of a future with space travel as normal as we have cars and travels with airplanes.
Take a look at Roberts Space Industries and be amazed by all the details and thoughts. It’s not just crowdfunded it’s also a huge community where anyone can make suggestions about the progress and content in the game. Modders are also welcome and a first look into what that can mean is the The Next Great Starship competition. I can foresee something as the marketplace in Second Life where you can create and sell your creations in game and maybe even convert it into real money. I’m sure Chris Roberts is smart enough to use the same way as Apple does, first make sure the mod or new design is according to a high standard then the mod is welcome into the game. Or modders can run their own servers and mod like crazy! Can you see there this can be going? Yes it’s huge from many angles! A full ecosystem inside a game! Have I made you more interested?
Another interesting thing is that it is not a console game, it’s a pure PC game. For any true gamer, the PC is a much better platform as you can configure it as you like, upgrade it when you want or need to. A console you have to wait for the next version and even then it might not be what you like it to be. At least according to Chris Roberts, but I agree with him. Graphics are raw power for any game and we can’t wait some 5-10 years for a new console to be updated. Below you can see some information and background about Star Citizen right from Mr Roberts himself.
Lesson learned so far
So why are over 260,000 players so interested that they spend a lot of money in a game that doesn’t exist? To answer that we can think back about 35 years. Star Wars had made a huge success and George Lucas had plans to make some more movies about it. He did and the rest is history. I was a ten year old boy at the time and BOY I wanted to be born at an age where I could travel in space, be a hero like Luke or Han Solo and fight in huge battles in the space. Star Citizen kind of make that possible. It might in a way be almost better (well, I said it might) and risk free (besides that this game can take all the time you have if you are a space gamer). The space has always been interested to many and a game that can put you there, in a huge MMO type of game where the players can be among other space nerds in a universe 900 years from now? I do understand the thrill, I really do! But to create this kind of game you need a vision, true passion and the experience to do it. Chris Roberts has that and he leveraged on it, big time!
Why now? Again, it’s the age of the customer as I have talked about in a post earlier. If and when there is a demand, the person or company that can deliver what the customer wants it can take a huge market share and create a disruptive market from the rest of the (incumbent “fat and happy” or just slower?) players on that segment of the market. Also, it takes a lot of computer power to make it look good and feel the way it should. If Star Citizen can fill that void, it will be a major hit and the space is the limit! If you like this, see and listen to Chris Roberts at 2013 SxSW Interactive Festival.
Is crowdfunding the future of games?
Crowdfunding is here to stay and I think we have just started to see new ways of finding ways to fund innovations, virtual worlds as Star Citizen or not. Do you think this is the future of games? It might even change the gaming landscape as we know it today where the large publishers often dictate the rules of the game. On the mobile side of things this has changed. The publishers complained at first but had to realise fact and they have. But crowdfunded games is different, where any gaming studio can reach their costumers directly. Is this a new business model for creating high-end games for the true gamer? A disruption in the gaming industry? I think it might be and almost hope so. Customer demand is the key and we are in the age of the customer. Let’s see in about a year or maybe two where Star Citizen are. Will you even back Star Citizen? Or have you already dear Star Citizen?