The early demand for Chris Roberts' proposed Star Citizen game was so strong it crashed the servers at Roberts Space Industries, where the designer was accepting pledges. As a result, Roberts and his newly formed company Cloud Imperium Games launched a Kickstarter campaign. This will, in the company's words, "provide a stable and scalable crowd funding platform in addition to the custom one hosted on the Star Citizen site to help Roberts reach the company's stated goal of raising a minimum of two million dollars for Star Citizen."
The Roberts Space Industries site has been unable to take pledges for several days, but despite that pledges have come in totaling more than $1 million, putting Cloud Imperium Games more than halfway to its goal in one week. "It's a testament to the will power of our amazing fans," said Roberts. "At a time when most would have given up, some dedicated fans kept trying to log on and eventually were able to get through and make a pledge. We appreciate all those efforts and now with Kickstarter, we believe we have an answer for everyone."
The Roberts Space Industries site has had millions of hits, hundreds of thousands of video views and almost 40,000 registered members, according to Roberts, but only 11,500 have backed the project so far. "I would hope that we could achieve the same number of backers that Project Eternity reached. Both Star Citizen and Project Eternity appeal to the same audience of people that remember the heyday of PC gaming in the '90s and my demo was pretty impressive," Roberts told GamesIndustry International.
"I would hope that we could achieve the same number of backers that Project Eternity reached"
While Roberts had initially wanted to bypass Kickstarter (as noted in our interview), the demand from fans has changed his mind. "It is all about giving our fans the opportunity to choose the platform and payment provider they feel the most comfortable with. We asked whether they wanted Kickstarter as an option and they spoke! Between Kickstarter and the original site, which supports Paypal and major credit cards, I believe we have the tools in place to make everyone feel comfortable in backing this game. I would also like to take a moment to thank the great people at Kickstarter. They were quick to offer help and have been great as we put together a solution."
"Those who pledged via Roberts Space Industries through our very rough first week of operation and those who make a pledge going forward on Kickstarter or on our site will all have their pledges tied directly to their Roberts Space Industries account," said Roberts. "Nothing has changed there. We just hope that people will understand the situation we were in and support us and support what we plan on bringing to the table for PC gamers everywhere."
Chris Roberts spoke exclusively to GamesIndustry International about some of the details.
We asked Roberts if there will be a difference to fans whether they pledge via Kickstarter or through the Roberts Space Industries site. In other words, is there anything offered through one site that is not on the other site? "Reward tiers are the same except we added a reward tier for people that have already backed to get in on the Kickstarter fun at $5," he said. "It's essentially a cool ship upgrade - Electro Skin Hull Enhancement module, which allows pilots to change the paintjob / appearance of their ship at a flick of a switch. Useful for flare or a pirate that wants to go incognito in a police system."
While Roberts is no doubt getting a lot of support from fans of his previous games, we wondered how much support is actually coming from gamers who haven't played his games before, but are just responding to the interesting idea and the trailer. "It's hard to say - there's definitely a lot of people that fondly remember Wing Commander, but there's also a pretty a large group of gamers that never played Wing Commander but loved Freelancer," he noted. "And I do think there's a smaller contingent that just like the idea of supporting high end PC gaming and think the stuff they've seen to date looks great."
"We have run a poll on this - 5 percent of the respondents (5,421) to the 'What was your first Chris Roberts game?' poll which we ran before the big announcement said they had never played one of my games. I can only assume this would be bigger now as this was from the 'underground' teaser site before I showed Star Citizen."
With such a strong early response to the project, would Roberts perhaps change his thinking about the game, its scope or release schedule? "Not yet - It was a pretty ambitious project from the start," he answered. "But if things go well with Kickstarter I will be able to add more systems and ships to the initial launch package."