David Daw: You funded Star Citizen with a rather unorthodox combination of in-house crowdfunding, Kickstarter, and traditional investment. How’d you come up with that mix?
Chris Roberts: Yeah, we’re not typical. Everybody talks about our Kickstarter, but that was just one small part of what we did. In fact, most of our money’s been raised outside of Kickstarter.
I’ve always felt like there was a pretty strong community that were fans of my previous games, and fans of space sims in general. I felt like if I looked at everything going on on Kickstarter, a lot of it was really good — but once you did the initial campaign, it was done and over, and I was fairly disappointed with what happened after that. I felt like no matter what, you’ve got to have a place where all the people that backed you are going to hang out, listen to what’s happening with the game, and interact, so why wait to do that later on?
So we actually launched a teaser site for what we were doing a month before we started the crowdfunding campaign — the idea was to aggregate the really diehard fans. We’d gotten about 30,000 people to sign up and register when we launched the campaign, which gave us a bit of a leg up in terms of the initial awareness in crowdfunding.
I think it really just came out of the fact that you’ve got to have your own solution, even with Kickstarter, because a Kickstarter campaign ends at some point. So then you’ve got to have some way that you’re interacting with your community, and everyone always has to have some kind of option for PayPal or whatever, so we figured, “If you have to build it anyway, let’s just build it and do it upfront.”
DD: Do you think that the Kickstarter has shifted? Has the wave of big Kickstarter-funded games passed?
Brenda Romero:Kickstarter in and of itself has become a game. It’s a spectator sport, and it’s super fun to be involved in these projects. It’s fun to watch them succeed, and it’s fun, in a sadistic game, to watch them fail. Watching people succeed and watching people fail, for better or for worse, as humans, there’s something to that.
I think people have a limited amount of funds to spend on Kickstarters, and I think the market is a lot more crowded than it used to be. I also think in the early days there was a lot of press coverage of “Here’s some RPGs on Kickstarter you might like,” and you’re not seeing as much of that these days. So I think there is a bit of atrophy in the community and apathy in the community. There’s not as much money because the money there was to go around has gone around. Kickstarter really is its own social network, and it’s incredibly fun to see what’s on there, but that wanes after a while.