Star Citizen's money pot has grown with such incessant regularity that the current milestone of $55 seems blasé somehow. The number still has the power to impress, however, as Chris Roberts explains on the Star Citizen site. "We’re in the Guinness Book of World Records, and not as the largest crowdfunded game of all time, but as the largest crowdfunded anything of all time!"
The public appetite for virtual spaceships is evidently insatiable, but some have questioned whether the Cloud Imperium team will be able to deliver on their stated ambitions.
"I know some people are afraid of “feature creep” and the game never being finished as we keep adding functionality and content to the mix with increased funding," writes Roberts.
"I would say that this would be fair criticism if we were delivering this game at retail and on disc. However, we are online and already pushing out builds, well before Star Citizen reaches what anyone would consider a “finished” stage. Just because we haven’t implemented a planned feature or built a certain asset yet doesn’t prevent us from sharing the game with everyone right now.
"It’s this evolved process which gives us the Hangar and Arena Commander and so many modules yet to come. We’re sharing the game as it’s being built."
Much of the money has come from new backers and the sale of ships, which can be viewed in the Star Citizen Hangar, an interactive looking-at-things simulator in which you wander around your purchase and admire its CryEngine 3-powered angles. Backers got their first taste of space combat in the Commander Module a few months ago. It's received regular updates since as the developers try to pin down ship handling.
Roberts says that all of the money is going back into the development of further modules, which will eventually coalesce into the promised persistent-universe combat and trading sim with moddable multiplayer that's also a first person shooter when it wants to be.
"I have a lot of industry friends pat me on the back and say, “Wow, it must be so great to be operating in profit even before you ship!” Their look usually turns to incredulity when I explain that my intention is for all the money we bring in before launch to be spent on development."
He adds: "Star Citizen isn’t a normal game. It’s not being developed like a normal game and it’s not being funded like a normal game. I’ve had to toss aside a lot of my knowledge from the old way of developing and embrace a completely new world. There is no publisher. There is no venture capitalist wanting a massive return in three years. There is no need to cram the game onto a disc and hope we got it all right."
Cloud Imperium's crowd-funding effort is so big they could almost launch their own space mission. Last month the BBC reported on the successful launch of India's Mangalyaan satellite Mars mission, which cost $74 million. The Star Citizen money hose shows no sign of sputtering out—could it happen?