Star Citizen has shattered crowdfunding records by raising over $55 million, but Chris Roberts says that money is not going into his pockets.
All Star Citizen crowdfunding will be spent on development and not treated as profit, Roberts has revealed.
In a new Letter From the Chairman on Roberts Space Industries, the developer addressed the question of why the team continues to accept pledges.
"I have a lot of industry friends pat me on the back and say, Wow, it must be so great to be operating in profit even before you ship! Their look usually turns to incredulity when I explain that my intention is for all the money we bring in before launch to be spent on development," he wrote.
"It is the community, from the existing backers who continue to support the game, to new members who join every day who are setting the level of ambition and budget for Star Citizen. Every effort is about enriching the game’s vision. Funding to date has allowed us to go so far beyond what I thought was possible in 2012. You’re still getting that game, no question, but it will be all the richer and so much more immersive because of the additional funding."
Roberts says he's had to "toss aside" a lot of his old ideas about how games are made and consumed in the absence of venture capitalists and publishers.
"I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012)," he said.
"If you combine our in-house staff and outsourced developers, we now number more than 280 people. Your support has created a significant number of jobs in the gaming industry.
"If we had raised the original amount and no more, we wouldn’t be able to deliver involved capital ship systems or the level of FPS gameplay that we are now planning for planets in the Persistent Universe. Nor would have the time or budget to continually upgrade the game with new features like Physically Based Rendering (PBR), or continually strive to make the art assets better."
Some developers have shied away from the "feature creep" inspired by crowdfunding, which can lead to incomplete additions, but Roberts said the fact that the game is being shared with backers as its built negates these concerns.
Roberts closed his discussion of crowdfunding by saying that players can earn all bonuses in-game and should not feel the need to pledge more than the game's sticker price. If they do want to purchase a new ship as an add-on, it does more than just increase the pool of resources available to Cloud Imperium Games.
"The new ships add interesting new gameplay and populating the future Persistent Universe with a range of different ships, flown by players pursuing all kinds of professions, will only add to the richness of the game once it’s fully live," he said.
"That’s what Star Citizen is about: the creative freedom to build something unlike anything that has been done before and the ability to do it with the support of a community that is as passionate about this game as I am. We want to make the Best Damn Space Sim Ever, and with your continued support I know we will."