I’ve been a subscriber of the Star Citizen newsletter for a while, just to see how the project was growing. I was browsing their website and landed on the funding page. I had no words: the guys had raised more than 60 million dollars for their game prototype.
During my past visits on their website, I was tempted many times to purchase a game pack, but the price for an unfinished game was just too high for me. But, hey, 60 millions! I want to see what this thing is.
Note: herd instinct, yep.
So I purchased the cheapest game pack (around $30) and started downloading the thing. And what a thing, I mean, that’s just… big! I let you judge by yourself:
You better be patient! But that seems more than fair enough for a game prototype. Even if quantity is not synonym of quality, there’s at least some work behind all the marketing.
About the business plan
While the game is downloading peacefully, I’d like take some time to mention the business model that RSI (Robert Space Industries, the company behind Star Citizen) developed around their in-progress game.
Everything is on the website and in their communication is really well designed, not only in terms of graphic design but also in terms of marketing conception. For me, it’s obvious that the project has been thoroughly thought as a long-run crowd-funding campaign.
The project status page gives you a visual feeling of the project current progress, and gives you this eager to play the finished game, and makes you think “Maybe I can make this happen faster ?“. And let me tell you that there are many, many, many ways to give your money to RSI!
Even if the game is not finished, you can already buy a game package. A game package contains an access to the in-dev version of game and a spaceship. Depending on how much money you are ready to throw at RSI, you can get a bigger/better looking/even bigger spaceship in your package.
Of course, you can also purchase additional ships, some modules to plug onto your ship and various upgrades.
And as you need somewhere to store all these spaceships you purchased, you may purchase several virtual hangars, with various ships capacity. There’s also a player skin section.
Another part of the store is selling more classic goodies, such as t-shirts, spaceship models, USB sticks and more.
As I said, if you want to put some money in Star Citizen, you have a very wide choice!
Ownership will get you far
Another interesting point is that, when you visit the web store, there is a constant level of abstraction: you are not buying an in-game spaceship, you are buying the spaceship itself. You can do advanced search, by filtering by fictive manufacturers, crew capacity or weight, as if you were purchasing a car. RSI created an amazing ecosystem of which you can get a sneak peak when visiting the store.
On each spaceship page, you can check out very advanced specs of each spaceship, like the number of placement of reactors, power consumption, and many more. Every effort is made so that you forget you are buying (expensive) virtual stuff.
This way, RSI really succeeds in giving their
backers players ownership of the ship there’re buying. Which is amusing, because their customers actually just pledging for another in-progress game project. But that may explain the astonishing amount of money RSI achieved to raise.
Is Star Citizen really a game?
All the polishing of the funding aspect of Star Citizen may lead to think that what RSI is actually selling is the development itself. I mean, this project is so big it may never see daylight and never have a retail release. So, having a strong business plan based only on the game development is one of the most smartest business plan I ever saw.