By Ben Barrett on July 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.
The amount of money Star Citizen has made is getting slightly embarrassing now. It’s more than various small nations’ GDP. You could buy about five and a half tanks with it, or most of an ICBM. It’s roughly 1000 times the average yearly wage of someone living in the UK. A big pile of cash, essentially, sourced from 500,000 folk at an average of just under $100 a pop. Now Chris Roberts has announced what the plan is for the 50 million mark – Alien Languages. I’ve delved into the labyrinthine mess that is Star Citizen’s website to dig out the current state of the project as best I can. Onwards, comrades, to glory.
Roberts talks about how they’re planning to “return to our tradition of stretch goals that improve the core game.” Presumably this is in opposition to the latest stretch goals of an in-game purchasable house-plant and a commercial for one of the ships. Yes, that’s right, the 48 million dollar mark meant that one of the spaceships that doesn’t exist in the game that isn’t finished yet will have a commercial made for it. Another one, that is. Anyway, the alien languages are planned to be developed in consort with linguistic experts so they can be “distinctive and realistic.” Swish.
Meanwhile, a dev update from the end of June detailed what each of the three studios and nigh-infinite freelancers working on the game have been up to. It’s mostly patching the Arena Commander dogfighting module that was released last month, with the important bits being netcode, button configuration customisation and HUD upgrades. Others are still in the preliminary stages of other parts of the massive scope of the full Star Citizen project. They won’t even talk about who the First-Person Shooter team is yet, though they’re still in the very preliminary stages. It’s an absolutely humongous post, so give it a scroll if you have the time.
Based on the front-page donation tracker, it won’t be long until the next milestone. Funding is still trucking away at around two million dollars a month, with about fifty thousand raised just yesterday. This all comes from the store of course, an equally maze-like construction. The base game plus access to Arena Commander will run you $35 or €28. The sky’s the limit beyond that however, with everything from monthly magazine subscriptions to ship skins and real-life clothing badges on sale.
It is a bit … odd, to say the least, that there are so many willing to pay so much for additional content in a game that does not exist yet. I’ve picked up a collector’s edition or two in my time, but only from companies I trust making franchises I love – and never at the kind of prices Star Citizen is charging for individual ships. Kickstarter and Early Access are in the business of selling fantasies, but this is selling insurance for that fantasy, a house in that fantasy, before it exists. I’m surprised people are comfortable with that, even after years of space-game starvation.