Chris Roberts’s (Wing Commander, Freelancer) online space simulator Star Citizen launched on Kickstarter in 2012. Today, it is the most successful crowdfunding project in history, even though the game is still in its early alpha stage eight years later.

What’s more impressive is that Star Citizen continues to break its own records, even in 2020 – years after the Kickstarter campaign ended.

Esperia Prowler, a stealth drop ship.
Esperia Prowler, a stealth drop ship.

The project, which began with a “modest” goal of $2 million, is seeing many new backers each year. It currently stands at 282 million dollars from backers alone, and this sum still keeps growing year after year.

It’s important to note that the funds collected for Star Citizen are actually invested into two games: the online, multiplayer-focused Star Citizen, and the single-player Squadron 42. Squadron 42 is scheduled to be released before Star Citizen and set the background story.

As developer Cloud Imperium Games started expanding its staff of only three people, the funds were also invested in the construction of five studios in the US and Europe. When the COVID-19 pandemic started sweeping the globe, CIG announced its employees would continue their work from their homes.

Star Citizen 3.9 alpha gameplay.
Aopoa Nox space bike, 3.9 alpha gameplay.

Over the years, the project has seen very contradictory opinions from the media. How come Forbes Magazine harshly criticizes it, while others like the BBC Click and Digital Foundry compliment it? Understanding this duality requires quite a lot of research, as Star Citizen is unlike any other gaming projects in the history of gaming.

But that is a different article altogether.

The Data Speaks for Itself

The data we have so far for 2020 is astonishing and caught even me, someone who has been closely following the project for four years daily, by surprise.

From Star Citizen spreadsheet made by SC community

The graph above shows monthly and yearly comparisons. In 2018, $37 million were raised, and in 2019, SC achieved $47 million. As for 2020, every month so far raised more money than corresponding ones in previous years.

By May, funding already hit the $20 million mark, a milestone 2019 reached only by the end of August. Also, we haven’t even reached the “stronger” months yet.

The graph shows the best months for fundraising are November and December, which are when notable sale events take place. If the trend continues and Star Citizen keeps gaining and maintaining the trust of more gamers, who knows what amount it will rake in 2020.

Tumbril Cyclone-AA vs Aegis Sabre stealth fighter.
Tumbril Cyclone-AA vs. Aegis Sabre stealth fighters.

Star Citizen’s Economic Model

Star Citizen’s development raises its funding almost entirely through crowdfunding. While the game itself (including the alpha phase) is sold for only $45, backers can “pledge” for spaceships or other stuff with real-life money. Some choose to pledge tens of dollars, and enthusiastic backers pledge even thousands and ten thousands of dollars, for things everyone can gain in-game anyway.

Sounds like a Pay to Win model, doesn’t it? But unlike some other games, SC is built and designed in a way that does not give too significant of an advantage to big spenders, or harm a new player’s experience. Each player will make their own story in the universe regardless of what he starts with, and new ones will enjoy a great game which others funded for them. And yes, explaining this even further would require another whole article.

Star Citizen Crusader Ares Inferno heavy fighter vs. Tumbril Nova tanks.
Crusader Ares Inferno heavy fighter vs. Tumbril Nova tanks.

At the moment, there are 2.5 million Star Citizen accounts, and this number continues to rise. An interesting detail to know is that most supporters’ age ranges between 30-70. Veteran gamers, many of whom have families, some of them are lawyers, game developers, and business people – not a likely crowd to easily deceive and scam.

Star Citizen is developed for PC only, with still no release date. Squadron 42 is supposed to go into beta at the end of 2020, but judging how development is progressing, I believe chances are it will be postponed.

Will the project succeed or fail? Only time and backers’ trust will tell.

Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.