Hello Citizens! In this article I take a look at the history of the crowdfunding campaign as Star Citizen nears $100 million raised.
Star Citizen’s journey began in 2011 but the rubber hit the road in September of 2012 when Chris Roberts and a tiny group of dedicated people launched the Roberts Space Industries website, followed a month later by the official announcement of Star Citizen at GDC Austin 2012. This coincided with the launching of the crowdfunding campaign on the RSI website and then shortly afterwards the Kickstarter campaign when the RSI website collapsed under the load.
The goal was for $500,000. The hope was for $2 million. The dream was for $6 million.
The idea behind Star Citizen’s initial crowdfunding campaign was to show a clear interest in space sim games and give Chris Roberts the ammunition he needed to secure angel investors who would fund Star Citizen up to about $23 million or so.
The initial campaign ended on November 19, 2012 with $6,238,563.
The key to this tale though, is that unlike many Kickstarter campaigns… the crowdfunding for Star Citizen was just getting started.
In the ensuing months after the crowdfunding campaign, funding was fairly minimal. The campaign hit $7 million on or around December 8th, 2012 but then didn’t hit $8 million until February 15th, 2013 – and only then because of a huge increase in funding ($595,862 over 9 days compared to $81,744 in the 9 days prior) due to the sale of Citizen Cards.
Things got rather quiet again after that. Some days Star Citizen brought in less than $3,500. It was certainly the doldrums of the campaign. March 2013 brought in only $180,073, still the lowest monthly total to date.
The campaign stirred from its slumber in late April 2013 when CIG had an Aurora sale, complete with brochure and the unveiling of the Aurora LX. This sale brought in $783,828 – or 435% of the entire total from March.
After this point base funding (funding on days with nothing special happening) picked up considerably. Prior to the Aurora sale, the base funding for an average day was just a hair under $7,000/day. In the period shortly afterwards, it increased to just under $13,000/day.
Despite the increase in base funding, the campaign once again entered a period of relative slumber… until the end of June 2013.
As of June 21st, 2013 Star Citizen had raised $10,202,908. Over the next 3 weeks there was a flurry of excited activity – 300 Series unveiling, sale, and commercial; 24 hour livestream; new website launched! All of this resulted in $4,116,612 being raised in that 21 day period. That’s right… Star Citizen’s funding increased by about 40% in 3 weeks.
This was the beginning of an incredible period for Star Citizen. Base funding skyrocketed from ~$16,000/day to ~$35,000/day. This tremendous increase coincided with a very exciting time for backers… the release of the very first part of Star Citizen was approaching – the Hangar module.
The Hangar module was unveiled by Chris Roberts at Gamescom 2013 on August 24th and released on August 29th. This event set off a long, sustained period of intensely successful crowdfunding for Star Citizen:
– The period around the Hangar Module release (August 24th to September 10th): $2,635,433
– Cutlass/Caterpillar back on sale (September 20th to 29th): $1,170,589
– 1st CitizenCon and associated sales (October 10th to 19th): $2,132,416
– Hornet variant sale, brochure, commercial (October 22nd to November 4th): $2,782,580
– 1st Anniversary sale (November 16th to 28th): $6,036,363
In the period between August 24th and November 28th – just 97 days – Star Citizen added $17,416,909 in funding to bring the total to $33,298,667. On August 23rd, the day before this crazy stretch began, the total funding was $15,881,758. That amounts to almost $180,000 per day for over 3 months. If nothing else ever has, that should give you an indication of the devotion and passion of the Star Citizen community. The community wanted Star Citizen to happen – willed it to happen.
November 2013 still reigns as the best month of the crowdfunding campaign with a whopping $7,871,634 added to the effort. This was largely due to the triple whammy of new ships available, the anniversary sale, and the end of regular LTI availability.
As a stark contrast to the months that preceded it, December 2013 was rather quiet with few notable events other than the holiday livestream which showed off Arena Commander and why it wasn’t ready for prime time.
The first 5 full months of 2014 were very quiet. CIG was in the business of getting Arena Commander ready for launch and the community waited eagerly to get their hands on it. The only real event of note in terms of funding was that Alpha slots ran out in April and the flurry to get one before they were gone caused a minor bump in funding. This amounted to $360,000.
One of the notable events in this period for Star Citizen fans was passing $42 million in funding. Obviously the number 42 has significance to sci-fi fans in general (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and to Star Citizen fans (Squadron 42). Passing this milestone rewarded fans who backed before that point with a special version of the mobiGlas called “ExoGlas” which is specialized Explorer’s version of the mobiGlas, and in keeping with the references to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy those same backers were also given a towel in their hangars.
Despite the relative calm, this still was not a bad period for Star Citizen’s crowdfunding. Base funding had increased so much (now up to ~$55,000/day) that the campaign did just fine without ship sales or special events. Star Citizen earned $8,797,195 in the first 5 months of 2014. The first 5 months of 2013 had amounted to only $2,612,040.
On June 3rd, 2014 Arena Commander V0.8 finally launched to backers and then shortly afterwards the Freelancer variant sale occurred. These two events combined to raise $1,974,044 in a 13 day period.
Ship sales were frequent in the summer of 2014 starting with the Xi’An Scout sale raising $542,754 from June 20th to 27th.
The sales continued:
– Aegis Dynamics Gladius raised $544,111 from July 11th to 18th.
– Origin Jumpworks M50 sale from August 1st to August 8th combined with the sale of 1,000 model Constellations on August 8th brought in $585,523.
– 2,500 model Constellations going on sale on August 13th combined with the Constellation variant sale that ran from August 15th through 25th, as well as the Gamescom event, combined to produce $2,436,287.
August 15th was a special day for Star Citizen. The crowdfunding campaign passed $50 million at 21:28 UTC on that day. This milestone brought with it a particularly cool stretch goal – Alien Languages. CIG has hired linguists to create alien languages for the game – yet another point towards immersion in Star Citizen.
August 2014 was also when CIG began tracking UEE Fleet as a statistic. To the best of our knowledge Citizens represents the number of RSI accounts and UEE Fleet represents the number of ships sold. Our earliest available numbers for UEE Fleet are from August 22nd, 2014 which show 439,533 in the UEE Fleet and 530,915 Citizens.
– Combination of Arena Commander V0.9 release on September 12th and an M50/350R sale starting the same day and running until September 23rd generated $991,678.
The Aegis Dynamics Reclaimer concept sale began on September 26th and ran until October 7th. This sale was notable because it was the first to use the format currently used for concept sales. This sale generated $1,988,585 in the 227 hours the sale was running for.
This brings us up to CitizenCon 2014. Star Citizen had raised $11,868,998 in the period between the launch of Arena Commander V0.8 and the second CitizenCon, a period of 129 days. The total for the campaign to that point was a whopping $56,379,260.
CitizenCon 2014 featured the Persistent Universe demo which showed the Constellation going from orbit, through EDL, to landing on the surface of ArcCorp. Also featured was the Cutlass commercial, the year-in-review, and the usual round of studio updates. The Cutlass variants went on sale from October 10th to 20th, and the concept sale of the Origin 890 JUMP occurred which was a quantity-limited sale as opposed to the usual time-limited sales. All of these factors combined to produce $2,289,118 in that 11 day window.
At the end of October 2014, the Drake Herald went up for concept sale. This roughly coincided with the PAX Australia event where Star Marine was shown off. The Gladius and Redeemer were also added to the hangar at this time and were made permanent additions to the pledge store. Through this period (October 31st to November 11th) Star Citizen earned $2,202,364.
On November 20th, just prior to the second Anniversary sale, Star Citizen had built up $61,625,373 from 655,130 Citizens – 514,958 in the UEE Fleet.
An intense period of funding began on November 21st with the 2014 Anniversary Sale. This continued with the sale of 200 Javelin Destroyers and the launch of the Anvil Carrack concept sale on November 28th. This entire period from November 21st until the conclusion of the Carrack sale on December 9th produced $4,747,075.
Base funding had dropped at this point in the year, hovering around $30,000/day on average.
Rounding out 2014 was the addition of the Anvil Gladiator to the hangar and the 2014 Holiday Livestream.
The Holiday Livestream on Decemeber 19th turned into a significant funding event when they released 200 Idris Frigates into the wild along with the entire Mustang lineup. The Mustang Delta was limited in availability and was on sale until January 5th, 2015. December 19th also featured the release of Arena Commander V1.0. This whole period taken together (December 19th through January 5th) earned Star Citizen $2,020,234.
In January 2015 base funding recovered once again to roughly $52,000/day.
January 23rd brought the fantastic PU Townhall event in Austin which gave the community a huge amount of information about Star Citizen. Coinciding with this was the start of a ship sale for those who wanted to avoid upcoming changes that required CIG to charge VAT (Value Added Tax) to ships purchased in the EU. The ship sale ran through February 1st. Taken together this period brought in $2,041,109.
The first three weeks of February were quiet, with base funding being ~$42,000/day.
Then the RSI Orion burst onto the scene! Star Citizen’s first mining vessel and what a beauty she is. The Orion’s concept sale began February 21 and ran through until March 2nd. The Orion was on sale for 220 hours and brought in $1,731,299.
The first half of March was fairly quiet in terms of funding – the PAX East event showing off the FPS module did not produce a noticeable bump in funding.
However, we did see a significant bump from the release of Arena Commander 1.1. From March 21st to 27th there was a $654,304 increase in funding.
And then the Vanguard. To date the Aegis Dynamics Vanguard long range fighter remains the most successful concept sale (that is reasonably measurable separate from other sales). In 245 hours from March 27th to April 7th the Vanguard increased funding of Star Citizen by $2,250,189.
As of mid April 2015, Star Citizen boasted $79,061,104 along with 873,402 Citizens and 674,342 UEE Fleet. Base funding was a little over $31,000/day.
At the end of April another big concept sale took place. This time around it was the heart and soul of cargo transport in the Star Citizen universe – the MISC Hull Series. The Hull Series did very well and many players were thrilled with the interesting and innovative design of the series. At final tally the sale brought in $2,156,463.
In May 2015 the main notes in terms of funding were the Starfarer Gemini sale and the MISC Reliant concept sale. The Gemini is a militarized version of the Starfarer fuel tanker ship and the MISC Reliant is a two-seater starter ship which is fairly versatile. These two sales taken together (May 9th to June 2nd) brought in $1,996,353.
And then came the wasteland… relatively speaking.
Star Citizen went through a difficult period in the middle of this year. The code base was split, releases were delayed, and Chris Roberts was being missed greatly while he worked hard directing the performance capture shoot in the UK for Squadron 42. There was a long period where there were no releases, no patches, little news, and no visible presence of Chris Roberts – which we had become used to over the last couple of years.
The resulting downturn in mood in the Star Citizen community was reflected in the funding. Base funding in June fell to roughly $22,000/day and then in mid July to a little over $18,000/day.
In the middle of this period was the Genesis Starliner concept sale. I personally think it’s an interesting concept and a cool ship but I think the overall mood of the community, plus the niche nature of the passenger liner, are the reasons that this sale only produced $570,765. To put this into perspective, a time period of equal length in February 2015 (8th to 17th) when nothing was happening, just simple base funding, was $415,622.
Notably, base funding improved essentially instantly upon the return of Chris Roberts to the LA office – and more importantly to the forefront of the visible interaction between CIG and the community – in the 3rd week of July to about $28,000/day.
The next notable event was Gamescom 2015. This event was very important for Star Citizen as it showed off some of the fundamentals of the final game – multicrew gameplay and a planetside location (ArcCorp). Associated with Gamescom was a limited ship sale. This sale produced $1,884,795 in the period from August 7th to 18th.
Towards the end of August there was more excitement. ArcCorp was released to backers and the Vanguard variants went on sale. The base Vanguard became the Vanguard Warden. The other two variants were the deadly Vanguard Harbinger and the E-War focused Vanguard Sentinel. The Vanguard variant sale ended up bringing in $1,002,618 between August 28th and September 7th.
September was a quiet month for Star Citizen’s funding. This gives me a good opportunity to take another look at base funding and it clocked in at roughly $25,000/day.
At the end of September we were treated to the unveiling of the MISC Endeavour research platform. The concept sale, running from September 30th right up until CitizenCon on October 10th brought in ROUGHLY $1.2 million. I say roughly because the data is skewed by the sale ending after the CitizenCon festivities had begun.
CitizenCon itself was another massive event for Star Citizen. Squadron 42 trailer in the form of Admiral Bishop’s speech to the Senate, the unveiling of the facial technology planned for use in the game, the unveiling of the Squadron 42 cast, the unveiling of the Aegis Dynamics Sabre fighter… and last but very far from least… an amazing demo of Star Citizen Alpha 2.0.
If you take the Endeavour sale and the CitizenCon festivities and the Sabre sale all together, there was an increase in funding of $4,238,758 between September 30th and October 21st. Of note, Star Citizen made more in that 22 day period than in the 73 days that preceded it:
– July 19 to September 29: $4,234,902
– September 30 to October 21: $4,238,758
Also of note, this 22 day period also included a $1 million+ day (October 11th) – there have only been 6 days in the entire crowdfunding campaign to top $1 million.
1. Last day of the original Kickstarter campaign – $1,510,312 – November 19, 2012
2. CitizenCon 2014 – $1,234,997 – October 11th, 2014
3. During the 2nd Anniversary Sale – $1,169,115 – November 29, 2014
4. During the 1st Anniversary Sale – $1,141,135 – November 27, 2013
5. During the 1st Anniversale Sale – $1,116,308 – November 26, 2013
6. CitizenCon 2015 – $1,018,295 – October 11th, 2015
That brings us to November 2015 which just happens to be pretty much… now! Current base funding is roughly $26,000/day and we’re gearing up for the 3rd Anniversary Sale! Today is the 3rd Anniversary Livestream which is almost guaranteed to be incredibly cool.
So you may be wondering why I decided to publish this now… before $100 million has been reached. You might also be wondering when Star Citizen will actually reach this milestone. The answers to both of these questions are tied together. There is a chance that $100 million could be reached during the upcoming 3rd Anniversary Sale starting today. With different ships featured every day and the possibility of up to 3 concept ships, the potential is there for this to be the best Anniversary Sale yet – especially if Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 is released in the same time window.
Depending how you calculate them, the first two anniversary sales both earned in the range of $4 million to $6 million. Star Citizen currently sits at roughly $94.4 million. It could just be that by the end of the month we will be celebrating the biggest funding milestone of them all. However, even if the Anniversary sale doesn’t blast off to new heights, Star Citizen will certainly reach $100 million by the end of the year.
Remember folks… The goal was for $500,000. The hope was for $2 million. The dream was for $6 million.
Due to the incredible support of the fans and the astonishing work of the development team, Star Citizen will soon be a $100 million game.
There is a long way to go but so much has already been accomplished.
I wanted to briefly discuss where Star Citizen could potentially end up in terms of crowdfunding.
Plans change all the time but last we heard (a long time ago), the plan was to cease crowdfunding late in the beta phase of development. This likely means that the campaign will run for another 1 to 2 years, depending on how development progresses. Assuming Star Citizen continues to earn at a pace of $30 to 40 million a year that puts the final tally somewhere in the $150+ million range in all likelihood.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or feedback please leave a comment below. :)