The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Is Star Citizen the biggest game ever?

The 100% crowd-funded project that is shooting for the stars


When I first heard the name Star Citizen, I quite foolishly assumed that this was yet another space-bound MMO, like EVE: Online or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I have never been so astronomically wrong. This game isn’t just massive — it’s positively gargantuan, and it’s not even finished yet…

For those of you completely out in the vacuum of space, Star Citizen is an ongoing PC project headed up by Chris Roberts, the man behind Wing Commander series: a 90s space-flight simulator with dog-fighting gameplay. Nearly 20 years later, Roberts embarked on the pioneering mission that is Star Citizen, with a nigh-on impossible objective: “I don’t want to build a game. I want to build a universe.”

The premise of the game is two-fold: on the one hand there is the single-player campaign, entitled Squadron 42, which will consist of both flight-simulation mechanics as well as a boots on the ground, first/third-person shooter experience. On the other hand, the star of the show is what is being dubbed the “Persistent Universe”; this is comprised not only of the massive multiplayer format but upon completion is designed to be the biggest game map ever.

Photo: Glenn Batuyong@flickr

Photo: Glenn Batuyong@flickr

Not only do the current builds feature several planets for the player to visit, all of which are designed to match a true planetary scale—we’re talking vast expanses, towns and cities, all with fleshed out interiors — but the ultimate goal is to create a virtual solar system for players to disappear into for weeks on end.

Photo: masbt@flickr

Photo: masbt@flickr

The sheer gravity of this project is mind-blowing and the approach itself is worthy of note too. This game’s production is very much like the construction of a spacecraft itself, in that it is being described as “modular”, meaning that sections and versions of the game can be purchased as and when available.

Roberts Space Industries is the umbrella that envelopes both Cloud Imperium Games — situated in Manchester of all places — and Foundry 42 (Frankfurt). It is this team of developers that are making video game history and they’re taking you along for the ride.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites. They are platforms for creative people to finance their projects through funds generated by the fans and for the fans. Star Citizen has taken this to the next level.

Whilst most top off their own money with that made through crowd-sourcing, Roberts’ vision for Star Citizen was to develop a game entirely from the donations made by fans and respected peers within the industry who understood what this game was all about. The fans.

As of 2011 (the official start date for production), the project has been 100 per cent crowd-funded. The team initially expected to raise around $4 million. This has become merely a drop in the pond, with the current estimation of total funds raised clocking in at a stellar $150 million – give a take a million or so…

So, what does $150 million in funds get you then? Well, nothing finished as of yet; in fact, as of right now there is no official release date. This has become a bit of a running joke amongst the gaming community but has also lead to a great deal of backlash amongst those who donated their hard-earned cash for a game that was supposed to be here three years ago.

In truth, it has come to the point that there is little use for a release date, as the original projection was 2014 and it is still no clearer when the game will be actually finished. Though there are rumours that the target is now late 2018, the issue is that so much money has now been pumped into the game that the community, as well as Roberts himself, feel that there is the capability to push this further: “If I can build a bigger and more robust experience, I will.” (NY Times).

It is not just that this game promises to be the biggest game ever, as we’ve been done dirty by that phrase before (No Man’s Sky), but more so that the level of time and effort being put into the project is backing that statement up. Furthermore, this game is huge in significance purely because of the showcase it has given for crowd-sourcing, with the scrutiny being part and parcel of it too – it almost has to the biggest game ever now.





  • Dragon75

    I want to make a correction to the author of this article on a couple of things.

    First this part:
    “on the one hand there is the single-player campaign, entitled Squadron 42, which will consist of both flight-simulation mechanics as well as a boots on the ground, first/third-person shooter experience.”

    The game is first person combat only, there is no third person combat.
    The 3rd person view is a free view option that is only meant for looking at your ship or character and allow for making videos and taking screenshots, but will not be usable in combat.

    Second is this part:
    “As of 2011 (the official start date for production), the project has been 100 per cent crowd-funded.”

    The official start date for the game was 2012.
    Its true they did start work on the prototype/demo video in 2011, that has never been in question, however the official announcement was on 10/10/2012 making that the official start date.

    Other than that a good article well worth reading.

  • voodoochild1975

    A few more minor corrections as well…

    The ultimate goal is not a complete solar system… it’s hundreds. Building out one, Stanton, is only the first to work out the process, develop the tools to sculpt worlds with a combination of Procedural Generation and artist input, pipelines for art assets etc.

    Hundreds of star systems when done, not one.

    Second, regarding funding… the original, much lower goals were to do a more traditional crowdfunding concept where backers raise some of the money, and having demonstrated real interest, investors put in the rest… once this project got to a certain point of funding they realized they didn’t need investors. So there are none. 100% backer funded.

    Lastly, not 150 million…
    168.1 million at the time I write this… they will likely be over 170 by year’s end.

    It’s a beast of a game to be sure.

    • Sorne

      Maybe they will hit 170 by the end of the Anniversary sale ;). It is really irritating when people say high ship prices are scams because I am perfectly willing to pay them to develop the Best Damn Space Sim Ever!

  • Réjean Chicoine

    This game is a joke, 3 years, the graphic technology have time to change and than they need to update the engine accordingly , it’s a never ending story that would never be final. People want to play game not waiting years and years, this is a reality,

  • Réjean Chicoine

    This game is a joke, 3 years, the graphic technology have time to change and than they need to update the engine accordingly , it’s a never ending story that may never see the day. People want to play game not waiting years and years, this is a reality,

    • sachaw

      They have, they started with Cryengine V, then moved to lumberyard, also due to the immensely high poly count for the ships they will be highly detailed enough for years to come, Finally you cannot make a game of this scale in the desirable time-frame for inpatient people like you.

      • Kyle Whitney Rodrigues

        I would also point out that Final Fantasy 15 had 10 years of development .. 10 years .. SC has what .. 5-6 so far .. These are not long times to develop AAA titles, especially when its initially crowed funded.. so conception to release.. i would start to worry after the 10 year mark.

        • sachaw

          I agree, but where FF15 Had one launch, SC is constantly being updated and evolved.

          • Kyle Whitney Rodrigues

            100% correct, i back up everything you have said :)

    • Theldos

      Well don’t hold your horses, the game has at least 2-3 years to go.

    • Sorne

      Are you speaking English? This is the most unintelligible and uninformed thing I have seen for a while.
      Star Citizen is unique in the fact that it is playable and commercialized while it is still under development. I really like that CIG is building a community and letting players be part of the universe while it is still being created. It is unique because it is a crowdfunded game which its backers want to be involved in even though it isn’t anywhere near finished. No one should expect a game on this scale, especially a crowdfunded game to be finished in 5 years.

      • Réjean Chicoine

        My English is not the subjet, till you understand me. Cryengine will sue Robert Industry for copyright so hold your breath maybe this game will never see the light. Making this game so big is a risk, why not make a simple game and add expansion to it after like many other games… like you said… game of this type take years to complete with a big team…. but don’t espect a release soon with a crowdfunded, the team is surely not that big. anyway… I will not put a dime for an unfinish game.

    • Paul

      Isn’t that the case for CD Project Reds Cyberpunk 2070 which ironicly started development around the time that Star Citizen did and yet we have seen nothing of that game, not a single in game screenshot or video footage, do we even know what kind of game it’s supposed to be?

      It’s funny really because CIG is getting more stick for being more open with the fans, now imaging if Cyberpunk was as open from the start and it was taking this long to deliver and this is the real problem, being in the public eye is great but when gamers get to see the game being made, they expect miricles, if Star Citizen was done by tridinal companies, we wouldn’t even know the game is being created because at this stage of development, it’s unlikely any of them would show us anything of it.

  • Declan Billington

    Just a small correction to am otherwise well written article, Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) has 4 offices LA, Texas, Manchester and Frankfurt. 5 if you count the satellite studio set up in Darby. Manchester tends to work on ships and the SP the most.

  • Philip Balfour

    There’s not even one planet you can walk on yet.

    Who paid for this piece of advertisement.

    • G.A Craane

      Planets will come later. For now there are 3 moons where you can walk on. Also it is already effectively, the biggest game map. SC does not have a skybox (or somewhere where you not can go) the moons are build on a planetary scale, meaning that the map of gta v could fit a few million times in daymar for example (because it’s a planet with real planetary rotational movement, own gravity etc.)

    • Mexor

      Who wants to walk on a planet? As a star citizen I would want to walk on a star!