Gamers' funding fuels meteoric rise of 'Star Citizen'
Roberts' brain spun out a grand vision: a rich, immersive galaxy; exquisite spaceships traversing between infinite star systems with thousands of computer gamers manning the cockpits, racing, dogfighting and defending humanity. ...... it would be built outside the traditional publisher system dominated by big game companies such as Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts. ....... The vision was clear. All he required was money. ....... Chris is demonstrating you can fund 100% development of a game if you have an audience that wants the game. We've never seen this for a game of this size. ..... Roberts — former Hollywood producer, movie director and veteran computer game creator — had a plan: raise several million dollars from true believers who would place advance orders. That would prove demand to venture capitalists, who could supply the tens of millions of dollars more that "Star Citizen" would require. ...... It turned out he didn't need the venture capitalists......... More than $58 million has poured into the coffers of Roberts' West Hollywood company, Cloud Imperium Games Corp., since "Star Citizen's" inception two years ago. And cash continues to flow — nearly all of it raised from hard-core gamers who make pre-orders and spend cash on digital goods that range from one-man spaceships to interstellar caterpillars that look cool when they explode in space. ....... Small-scale video games have raised as much as a few million dollars through crowdfunding, a fundraising technique in which creators pitch ideas on the Web to attract relatively small amounts of cash from lots of people. But "Star Citizen" did something extraordinary: It quickly reached the several-million mark and then blew past it. ...... The result is a game industry phenomenon. .... The full product isn't scheduled for completion until sometime in 2016, but, according to Roberts, more than 600,000 fans worldwide are playing modules of the partly built game and suggesting improvements to developers. And they're buying digital goods — an average of more than $90 per crowdfund contributor. Roberts attributes the success to the game's possibility to last a lifetime. ...... "The idea is to make it a huge space playground that you dream of spending time in if you've ever watched 'Star Wars,'" he said. "You can be a pilot, a mercenary, an explorer, a salvager; everything's available to you." ....... Cloud Imperium's website features a live fundraising tracker and monthly progress reports on the accomplishments of its 280 employees and contractors ...... He's spent $1,500 on spaceships, including $300 this month to partner with a wingman to buy the 890 Jump, an exclusive space yacht whose "very presence signifies power," according to Cloud Imperium. ...... "How many of us have dreamed of being astronauts at some point?" Snyder said. "This is the only way it's going to happen these days for a lot of us ...... By 2011, technology had "massively changed," he said. Powerful graphics processors, computer chips and memory cards had become cheap enough for Roberts to deliver a game that drops people and their friends into an Internet-hosted universe where players by the thousands interact in a virtual reality. ....... Activision's console title "Destiny," a first-person shooter game released last month, sold 5 million copies in its first five days. ...... With their support, he avoided the strings of big corporations and wealthy individuals......... The video game market is huge: $15.4 billion in U.S. sales alone in 2013 .... About half of that revenue comes from digital content like "Star Citizen," downloaded on a computer, not bought in a store. ...... Cloud Imperium's marketing budget includes large dollops spent on keeping the community engaged, holding live events, producing regular programs on YouTube and Twitch, and pumping out promotional videos that trumpet the latest spaceships on sale as if they were the newest must-have Mercedes-Benzes. ...... I wouldn't be surprised by $100 million in crowdfunding