Star Citizen boss Chris Roberts looked back on some of the game's big events today's likely-year-ending Letter from the Chairman update, including the addition of its first planet, the first major landing zone, and 32 new flyable ships. He also announced a new private investment of $46 million into Cloud Imperium, on top of the $211 million it's raised from fans so far.
Roberts also said that he expects the singleplayer Squadron 42 (opens in new tab) to be ready to begin beta testing in the second half of 2020.
"When we started the campaign for Star Citizen and Squadron 42, I said that the crowdfunding would go towards development of the game, and that the amount would define the scope and ambition of what we were working on. That is a commitment I am proud to say we have been upholding; its why we have over 500 staff around the world working on the games and have spent very little on marketing," Roberts wrote.
But marketing will become more of a priority as the game approaches release, and needs to compete for gamer eyeballs with games that have "tens and, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising behind them." The most common solution to that particular problem is a deal with a publisher, but "I am not in favor of putting my destiny in the hands of a third party," he wrote.
Roberts said he doesn't want to dip into the crowdfunding well again either, even though Star Citizen is still actively crowdfunding right now. That led the studio to pursue private equity and venture capital investment, which ultimately led to the deal with Clive Calder, the founder of the Zomba Group, and his son Keith, head of the film production company Snoot Entertainment.
"This investment helps secure our independence. We may not have the resources that an Activision or EA have to launch one of their tentpole games, but we now control our own destiny in marketing Squadron 42, especially as we have a secret weapon: all of you!" Roberts wrote. "Between the power of the best community in gaming to help get the message out and these additional funds we will be well positioned to enable Squadron 42 to enjoy the success that it deserves."
The need for that marketing money, at least to advertise a completed game, is still a long distance off, however: "The same caveats will apply to the Squadron 42 roadmap as they do to the PU [Persistent Universe] one, but our plan is to be feature and content complete by the end of 2019, with the first 6 months of 2020 for Alpha (balance, optimization and polish) and then Beta."
Star Citizen crowdfunding currently stands at nearly $212 million, which includes $7 million raised over a single week during a recent "free fly" week. The Squadron 42 "public roadmap," breaking down the game's schedule of development for the next couple of years, went live today.