Kickstarter has had a noticeable impact on the making of video games. On the one hand, it has enabled video game developers to secure either full funding or supplemental funding from non-traditional sources, thus making a wider range of projects possible than ever before. On the other hand, well, suffice to say that there have been some real Kickstarter catastrophes in this regard. Star Citizen can’t be considered the worst of these titles, not when there has been at least one case of the people involved in a project spending the money on beer and strippers. However, it is nonetheless one of the titles that have soured a lot of people out there on the use of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms.
What Is Star Citizen?
For people who are unfamiliar, Star Citizen is supposed to be the space simulation MMO with a strong focus on space combat as well as space trading. When it went up on Kickstarter, it managed to create so much hype that it managed to break the record for crowdfunded video games. Since that time, the people behind Star Citizen have continued to fund their project through private investors as well as the sale of virtual space ships, with the result that it had raised more than $200 million in funding by November of 2018. Comparing that with the budgets for other high-profile video games is complicated because video game companies tend to be less than forthcoming about such matters, but by most indications, that is a colossal sum to say the least.
Unfortunately, it is important to note that the people behind Star Citizen started working on it in 2011. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that said individuals have already missed their initial launch date in 2014. Even worse, there is no real way to say when the full version of Star Citizen will be made available to interested individuals because it is still on a playable alpha, meaning that the end isn’t even in sight at this point in time.
Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of people out there who are less than impressed with this progress. Something that is particularly true in light of the fact that Star Citizen is still continuing to raise funds through various means, with a particularly egregious example being the time when the people behind it attempted to monetize the livestreaming of an annual event. As such, there have been multiple lawsuits with various results. Moreover, Star Citizen has been the subject of considerable mockery, as shown by it winning Wired’s Vaporware Awards for 2016, as well as fierce online arguments between its supporters and its detractors, which have happened on such a frequent basis that most bystanders got sick of them years and years ago. On top of this, various publications have launched investigations into the whole mess, which have not produced particularly impressive results to say the least.
For instance, consider the example of a Forbes report that came out in May of 2019. In short, people make a lot of jokes about poor project management at video game companies, but Star Citizen seems destined to go down as the single worst example of this in video game history, as shown by the multiple examples of useless micromanagement as well as runaway feature creep. There are stories of the lead character artist getting a total of five characters done over the course of 17 months because the man in charge reversed character approvals again and again. Likewise, there are stories of the project having completed a total of two planets, nine moons, and an asteroid out of a total of the 100 star systems that have been promised. The whole thing sounds like a complete and utter project management nightmare that manages to keep on running because its horrendous development is married to a remarkably successful marketing system that has drained millions and millions of dollars from people who are committed to the completion of Star Citizen.
What Is the Current State of Star Citizen?
There are a small number of playable alpha modules that have been released for Star Citizen. The very first was the Hangar Module, which let interested individuals look at their purchased ships as well as make various changes to them. The second was a space combat simulator, while the third was a third-person shooter. Currently, these modules have been combined into a playable alpha that has just released a new update that lets interested individuals play as female characters on a new city-themed planet, which isn’t particularly impressive considering the sheer amount of time and money that has been poured into this. As such, an argument can be made that people who backed Star Citizen are already capable of playing it to some extent, but chances are good that a playable alpha isn’t quite what most people would have in mind when the subject comes up.
Will Star Citizen Ever Be Completed?
As for the question of whether Star Citizen will ever be completed, well, that remains to be seen. If the Forbes report is right, the story of its development isn’t one of fraud but rather massive incompetence on an almost unbelievable scale. Unfortunately, incompetence can kill a project dead just as easily as fraud if not more so, particularly when said incompetence is apparently sucking up huge amounts of resources to keep it going. Theoretically, there might come a time when the people behind Star Citizen will have used up so much goodwill that they won’t be able to bring in any more funding, but for the time being, it seems likely that they will be able to keep the whole thing going for a few more years at the very least. As for whether that will be enough to see the game to completion, well, it is best not to be optimistic on the matter.