After years of crowdfunding and development, PC video game Star Citizen has a titanic budget to match its lofty ambitions, surpassing $100 million in funding as of December 12. Star Citizen promises to let players live out their space captain fantasies in a massive multiplayer open galaxy, and its single-player mode features Hollywood actors such as Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman. Industry veteran Chris Roberts, who created the acclaimed Wing Commander series in the 1990s, is in charge of development with his company Cloud Imperium Games.
Star Citizen started its life on Kickstarter, where it smashed its initial funding goal of $500,000. It then moved crowdfunding to its own website and has continued to raise record amounts of money. Even before surpassing the $100 million milestone, it has raised more money than any other crowdfunded project in history by a wide margin.
Why is Star Citizen so popular? There’s a number of reasons. With a few exceptions, there has been an unmet demand for the ambitious freeform space sims that were popular in the 1990s, with publishers unwilling to take risks to bankroll what is admittedly a niche genre. Star Citizen‘s ambition is another factor. Its promised goals and set of features are so large that it seems to be many people’s dream game. Want to become a space pirate and live the life of an outlaw? Star Citizen promises to let you to do just that. Want to become a peaceful trader, an explorer, or a smuggler? Star Citizen promises that, too. As a result, the (unreleased) game has already developed a fanatical following, with over a million backers, and its own convention, Citizencon. Some devoted backers have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the game’s development by buying in-game spaceships, which can go for more than $2,000.
Star Citizen is currently being developed in modules, each with an individual element of gameplay. There are currently separate modules for space and ground combat, and the plan is to combine all the modules into one massive game. The game, as of a few days ago, is currently in its Alpha 2.0 stage — meaning only a fraction of its planned features are currently playable. But, if it follows its course, it’ll not only be the most successful crowdfunding project ever, but also the most ambitious video game ever planned, and played. And having crossed the $100 million mark, it seems that Star Citizen will at least have the funds to meet its stratospheric goals.