30 Nov What is The Most Funded Kickstarter Project? You’ve Probably Heard of this One!
When we’re asked what is the most-funded Kickstarter project, we can’t help but talk about video games & how it makes for one of the most popular categories in Kickstarter. Millions of dollars are contributed to game development but one of the most prominent success stories is Star Citizen by Chris Roberts.
What is Star Citizen?
Star Citizen is an in-development multiplayer video game developed and published by Cloud Imperium Games. A successor to Freelancer, Star Citizen is the brainchild of director Chris Roberts. The game was announced in 2012 through a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, drawing in $2million in its first funding round. Today, a decade later, it has amassed up to $275million from crowdfunding alone!
With additional investment, the game is expected to top $400 million by 2020. This is the only project in the history of crowdfunding breaking the records of the video game industry itself. The most expensive game of all time was GTA V with $265 million for a budget.
What’s will the team behind Star Citizen do with nearly $400 million?
On the Star Citizen blog, creator Chris Roberts promises to spend the money in “enriching the game’s vision.” The only problem?
People have been waiting for the game since 2013.
Game journalists and enthusiasts have penned countless articles criticizing the decade long development time. Some have even gone on to claim it as a possible scam, especially since after nearly a decade, there’s no sign of release. At least not any time soon.
How Did Star Citizen Manage to Keep People Hooked for So Long?
Regardless of the status of the game though, as marketers, we’re more interested in how Star Citizen was able to attract backers and become the highest funded game in the industry.
After analyzing the campaign, the press coverage, the opinions of gamers and an active Reddit channel, here are a few things we’ve uncovered.
Establish a Strong Market Presence
Chris Roberts is a British-American video game designer, known for the Wing Commander franchise. He was later also director of the Wing Commander movie and a producer for its sequel Wing Commander II.
By the time, Chris Roberts announced the launch of Star Citizen, he had a few games under his belt and a movie to boast about. In 2011, Roberts founded Cloud Imperium Games with his business partner. In October 2012, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign to create Star Citizen, a space simulation game.
In one month, the company earned $6 million in funding, breaking all crowdfunding records. By October 2013, the company earned over $23 million in crowdfunding.
Of course, not everyone can leverage a strong industry presence, but it’s clear that if you want to succeed on crowdfunding, you need to have some sort of industry presence to get support.
People aren’t just going to pour in support if they don’t already know who you are and what you do. Because crowdfunding is built on trust and reputation, it’s important to establish these before you launch a massive campaign.
Keep Adding New Features & Create Milestones for Each
One of the greatest pulls of Star Citizen is the new features that the company is constantly “talking” about adding to the game. Donating large sums of money gets you to access to loads of ships and resources and other digital assets in the Star Citizen universe, some of which are accessible now, while others are promised later.
Note: Star Citizen is still a big alpha test and not really a full-fledged game at this point.
A key thing to learn here is the addition of new features to keep the project alive. Many creators have found success with stretch goals that are designed just for this purpose – add new features, keep the excitement alive and add new funding goals.
We’ve covered Kickstarter stretch goals in complete detail here. Before you invest in Kickstarter stretch goals make sure you can deliver as promised. Stretch goals need a careful approach.
Work on Audience Psychology & Deliver Exactly What they Want
Star Citizen used the power of nostalgia to keep its audience invested. Even after a decade, people are still funding the game with the hope that it will be a revolutionary, immersive game like no other. Although it’s a video game designed just for Windows OS users, the mere concept has got millions of people invested in the game.
For crowdfunding to succeed, you really need to dig into to the psyche of your audience. What is it about your game or your project that will make them feel happy, excited, proud or willing to invest.
It is estimated that the average contribution to this game is around $100/contributor. This level of contribution is the result of an organization that understands exactly what its audience wants and is willing to wait a lifetime for.
Mobilize Support Outside of the Kickstarter Campaign
Chris Roberts garnered support even outside of Kickstarter. The game has a dedicated Reddit Channel with some 227K followers and press coverage from the gaming industry.
Despite the pandemic, the company saw a massive jump in crowdfunding. Combined with funding from private investors, as of now, the game has nearly $338 million to use. This is the equivalent of a massive political campaign.
The company has built so much momentum, created so much hype with its offers that every gaming enthusiast is hoping to get their hands on what may be the game of the century.
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Crowdfunding success depends on hype and media noise. The more you make, the higher your chances of succeeding.
Talk to Your Audience
Nothing beats a message, a blog post, or an email from the founder. Personalization is key. Chris Roberts has been keeping his audience hooked with his website and blog where he gives updates about new product features and funding goals.
Although the game is not yet officially released, new features are being added and reviewed by alpha test players.
If anything, crowdfunding can be a great platform to get your first batch of beta testers. It’s a great way to get reviews & opinions in, before launching for the world.
Conclusion – Learn How to Market from Star Citizen, but Make Sure You Don’t Take a Decade to Deliver!
Even if you do everything right, but don’t deliver, you’ll get refunds, bad reviews & bad press. You’ll probably have to spend more money keeping all this in check, so it’s better to deliver than to manage the costs of stalling.