Star Citizen, which is Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts’ hugely ambitious return to gaming with his new studio Cloud Imperium Games, has, at time of this writing, surpassed $51 million in its record-setting crowdfunding campaign. The latest stretch goal unlocked at the $50 million mark is the inclusion of sophisticated alien languages developed by real linguists for the game’s three largest non-human races.
Star Citizen initially raised over $2 million on Kickstarter in 2012, but has subsequently managed to beat that 25 times over by accepting direct donations on the game’s own website. The game is a massively multiplayer, open world space sandbox that features first-person combat in personal spaceships and hangars, explorable planets, and an ever-growing list of other features that are added as the budget increases with no deadline in sight, feeding the endless hype cycle.
If and when the game is fully released, it will set an important precedent for the scale at which crowdfunding can operate. Roberts has decades of experience in the genre, and so he is perhaps better qualified to pull it off than most developers. But there are so many unknowns in creating a game with such unprecedented scale, modular design, and fan-driven development, that only time will tell if the whole thing comes together in a way that fans find satisfying. If it does succeed, the door will be wide open for other ambitious projects to seek funding outside of traditional publishers, accelerating the horizontal spread of game development. Failure will make fans much more hesitant to support other huge, open-ended projects.