Star Citizen crowdfunding reaches half a billion dollars after a decade

The famously ambitious space simulation game from developer Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) reached a significant milestone. No, it hasn’t emerged from Alpha, but the crowdfunding budget has surpassed $500 million as it nears its Kickstarter campaign’s 10th anniversary. There is still no release date in sight.

Most games from major publishers don’t get development budgets anywhere close to half a billion dollars. Star Citizen — an indie game by some definitions of the term — recently blew past that number from crowdfunding. Furthermore, developer CIG raised $100 million of that money since last November, indicating investment in the game hasn’t slowed down.

Initially conceived as a spiritual successor to Chris Roberts’ classic Wing Commander series, Star Citizen and its single-player component Squadron 42 seek to let players explore entire planets and solar systems seamlessly. The title features a mixture of first-person shooter and space flight multiplayer gameplay at an impressive scale.

Star Citizen entered pre-production in 2010 and started its crowdfunding campaign in October 2012. Since then, it has raised money by selling access to the alpha. Alpha testers can also buy virtual ships, some costing over $100. The game’s most expensive vessel costs $1,100. Last September, one backer complained to the UK’s advertising authority over CIG’s practice of selling ships that aren’t actually in the game yet.

In February, CIG cut back on visibility for Star Citizen’s roadmap, blaming high user expectations. However, the company still provides regular progress updates on its blog and YouTube. Looking at these updates and the roadmap provides an idea of the extreme level of detail and granularity CIG is trying to attain with Star Citizen.

One feature the August 2022 update mentioned has AI characters automatically check and refill medical fridges. One recently released feature in the roadmap called Salvage T0 lets players strip and repair their ships by hand. Another function allows players to move about in zero-g using only their hands.

Squadron 42 received a flashy trailer in 2018 featuring actors like Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Ben Mendelsohn, Henry Cavill, and others. Later that year, CIG gave the title a 2020 launch date. In January 2022, CIG said its release is still a year or two away while also mentioning multiple sequels. Leveraging the same technology as Star Citizen, a lengthy 2018 gameplay reel made Squadron 42 look like an ambitious mixture of Mass Effect and Crysis.