Video game maker successfully crowdfunds over $10 million for project

Source: WCSaga.com - Wing Commander Media Screenshot

Source: WCSaga.com – Wing Commander Media Screenshot

Crowdfunding’s naysayers argue that the system lacks accountability, that it attracts charlatans. But for Roberts, trust goes both ways. He said that, on the whole, the public is smart about its picks. And the public is getting a taste for the sense of power that comes with shaping the destiny of individual games.

“The empowerment that comes from feeling like your voice gets heard. You say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s intoxicating.”

Unlike most crowdfunding efforts, Star Citizen‘s has been open-ended, with much of the money coming directly through Roberts’ company website. He said that the extra funding goes directly into realizing the full vision of Star Citizen, at the earliest point possible. Early playable sections of the game, in which players can explore space-ships, will be released this summer, followed by playable dogfights, and then the full single-player story campaign.

Roberts said, from the beginning of this venture, he had taken seriously the business of facilitating consumers and keeping them informed, with multiple updates, asset releases and blog-entries each week.

“Our engagement with the community is not about, ‘Hey, thanks for the money, we’re off to make a game, we’ll check back in a couple of years.’ We engage with them every day. We have eight to 10 posts a week on our site where we do video content. I make every one of our developers spend at least an hour a week interacting with the community. We try to up the engagement, because we understand that part of this whole thing is about saying, ‘Yes, I want to get involved. I want my voice heard. I want to see a space sim again.’ Okay, absolutely. Thank you for helping us be able to do that. We respect that. We want to have you involved in the process.”

Crowdfunding and digital distribution have opened up gaming seams that had previously been seen as unprofitable. Titles that can sell a million or two million copies are not interesting to publicly traded mega-companies like Activision and EA. But with retail, investors and traditional marketing out of the equation, these sorts of numbers make a lot of sense for small, well-funded companies making space-combat sims, point-and-click adventures, classic renales and quirky strategy games.

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