With a little more than $1 million raised for his sweeping vision of a genre-pushing online space combat title, Chris Roberts is turbo charging his fundraising efforts.
Roberts launched Star Citizen with the idea of raising money for the massively multiplayer game without the help of Kickstarter, but that's no longer the case. Today Roberts announced that he was expanding his backing efforts to the popular crowd-funding site. The decision comes in the wake of Obsidian Entertainment's Kickstarter for Project Eternity setting a new funding record with nearly $4 million raised on the site.
The Star Citizen Kickstarter, which went live this afternoon, will provide a "stable and scalable crowd funding platform" for the game, Roberts told Polygon. That's an important part of the decision. Shortly after Roberts announced his project, and his hopes to raise $2 million through direct funding on his website, the official site for Star Citizen collapsed under the strain of curious online onlookers and those hoping to donate money. A back-up site still exists and has pulled in another $14,000 from about 700 people. Neither figure has yet been added to the official count on the Star Citizen page.
While Roberts says that the ability for his company to raise that much money through fans despite the outages is a testament to their interest, he'd still like to make sure everyone interesting in pledging can.
"We were tracking to do well over $1 million on the first day until things blew up," Roberts told Polygon. "I'm pretty confident we would have been over $2 million by now.
"I think we took a hit because we were down so long. The fundraising is still pretty impressive, considering being down for 50 percent of the days we could have been raising money."
"It is all about giving our fans the opportunity to choose the platform and payment provider they feel the most comfortable with," Roberts said. "We asked whether they wanted Kickstarter as an option and they spoke! Between Kickstarter and the original site, which supports Paypal and major credit cards, I believe we have the tools in place to make everyone feel comfortable in backing this game."
Roberts initially said that while he loved Kickstarter, and has supported it in the past, he didn't want to use the service because he felt that the ultimate goal of crowd funding is about "connecting the crowd directly with the creators with as little friction as possible."
By building the crowd funding directly into the site, Roberts said he felt he could build a single place for people to donate, find out about the game and communicate with the developers.
"Kickstarter, as great as it is, can't deliver this experience, which is why we've decided to go it alone," he wrote on the official site when it launched.
Roberts, who said he was up until 4:30 a.m. personally talking to fans having tech issues on his site today, said once they realized that they were having trouble keeping the site up under the pressure of all of those people, they decided to create a Kickstarter page.
That campaign, which is only seeking $500,000, will be nearly identical to the one on the game's website. The key difference is that it will include a new $5 Kickstarter Pledge that grants gamers the ability to have their ship's hull switch designs on the fly in the game. It also comes with a special skin for ships to show that the person donates on Kickstater.
Roberts said the pledge is designed for people who gave already and may want to show their support on Kickstarter too.
Both those pledges made directly on the site and those made through Kickstarter will be tied directly to a gamer's Roberts Space Industries account.
"Nothing has changed there," he said. " We just hope that people will understand the situation we were in and support us and support what we plan on bringing to the table for PC gamers everywhere."
The average donation to Star Citizen so far is about $80, Roberts said. But a lot of the people who are signed up on the site still haven't made any donation.
"We have about 40,000 people who have signed up for the site," he said. 'Only about 11,000 people have backed, so there's some level of disconnect."
Despite losing some of those early investors to technical issues, Roberts remains upbeat about the project and what he described as an overwhelming outpouring of support.
"I'm having a lot of fun, but not much sleep," he said. "It's awesome to see the enthusiasm and outpouring from the community. It's amazing.
"I'd like this to be a message for the bigger publishers out there, for them to see that space sims are a completely viable genre."