November 28, 2021
Posted on November 27, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
It is an extraordinary and aboveground project in the video game industry. Since 2012, Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) has raised more than $ 400 million from the gaming community around the world to fund its mega-production Star Citizen through crowdfunding. A record amount for crowdfunding and a production budget worthy of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters.
Nearly 3.4 million players have bribed this video game planned for PC called “Space Opera” (space simulation) which will be available in two formats. The first (“Squadron 42”) will allow the player to lead his space epic alone. The second mode will be massively multiplayer and will take place in a persistent universe. “It’s a UFO in video games, a Dantesque project. From the start, we were talking about hundreds of solar systems to explore, ”underlines Cédric Lagarrigue, founder and former boss of the publisher Focus Home Interactive and now senior advisor for the investment bank Alantra.
The XXL buzz around the project is due, for many, to the reputation of the one who carried it on his shoulders from the beginning: Chris Roberts, a veteran of the video game industry. “Its ‘Space Opera’ Wing Commander franchise, released in the 1990s, left its mark on a whole generation of players,” recalls Romain de Waubert de Genlis, creative director of the French studio Amplitude, which developed the Endless Space space game license.
Reports on reports
Nine years after the start of the adventure, the pace of player fundraising to finance Star Citizen is not slowing down and even tending to accelerate. But the aura of Chris Roberts does not prevent the controversy. The additional content packs (including ships that can be used by buyers in the already accessible limited access version of the game: Editor’s note), sometimes sold for several thousand dollars, did not fail to make the “gamers” talk. many have doubts about the project.
The reason ? Incessant delays in development that cause fears that the game will never see the light of day. Because the gigantic and almost phantasmagorical ambitions of Chris Roberts blew up the production deadlines of his game. Initially scheduled for… 2014, the release was thus postponed to 2015, then 2016, then 2020. A year ago, the boss of CIG has (re) clarified things … by pushing back sine die marketing: “We still have a long way to go before being in beta (second version of a game before release: Editor’s note) […] “Squadron 42” will be ready when it is ready, “he said.
“The development is quite chaotic but it is not the first case in the industry, nor completely illogical given the scale of the project, argues Cédric Lagarrigue. Chris Robert finds himself at the head of a development at more than 400 million dollars while his previous games had production budgets around 30 million. And it is above all a creator who is today at the head of a large group ”.
The band burns money
Since the end of 2018, the group has published its financial accounts. “People think we went to a desert island, sipping piña coladas in the back of our super yacht,” said Chris Roberts at the time. to the “Venture Beat” site to justify this transparency operation. Today, CIG employs more than 700 people and has just announced that it will recruit again widely and will open, in May 2022, a huge studio in Manchester where its new headquarters will be located, in addition to its structures in Austin, Frankfurt. , Los Angeles and Montreal.
Suddenly, CIG burns cash every month, despite a level of fundraising, via crowdfunding, unparalleled in the world. In 2019 alone, the group’s expenses amounted to $ 70.4 million against $ 60.7 million in revenue generated. To close the gap, the group raised $ 46 million three years ago – an operation valuing it $ 500 million – from outside investors who reinjected $ 17.25 million in March 2020.
“Taking into account CIG’s financial situation, the state of the project which is still well advanced and the valuation multiples that have exploded in the industry since, we should not exclude a large fundraising soon, it would be the ideal time, ”argued Cédric Lagarrigue. Enough to refuel Star Citizen’s space engine. To infinity and beyond ?