Chris Roberts Talks Star Citizen, The Last of Us, Broken Age, and More
It’s a challenge, Roberts said, communicating with and responding to such a large and rapidly growing community — particularly when members of that community have already opened their wallets. Regular updates, polls. communicating directly with members via forums and social media, and actually implementing community feedback have been the key for Star Citizen.
As an example, Roberts pointed to a poll conducted early on in the campaign in which supporters were asked what they wanted to become — the role they wanted to play the most — in Star Citizen. Mercenary? Pirate? Trader? To Roberts’ surprise, the number one response, 67% in fact, was none of the above. People said what they most wanted to become was an Explorer.
“I was completely shocked,” Roberts said. “Yes, we knew people wanted to explore, but I thought people would rather be a badass Bounty Hunter or a Pirate. We saw that exploring was something that people really wanted to do, so at that point we decided, ‘Okay, we’re going to put more resources into exploration.’ We developed more game mechanics for the Explorer, more for those players to get from the game. Without the polling and community feedback, that never would have happened.”
“The whole crowd funding model isn’t just about the money you’re going to get,” Roberts continued. “Yes, that liberates you from the corporate overlord, but the other really great thing, you’ve got the community, the people who will be playing your game, involved early. So in talking with them, they really help prioritize where to spend your time.”
While it can be difficult weeding out the vocal contrarians and the trolls who troll for the sake of trolling, Roberts said he much prefers working with 200,000 supporters than a small team of executives from a traditional publisher who believe a 30-person focus group can provide key insight and should influence development. “We’re not doing any of that bullshit,” he said with a laugh. “All the stuff that people hate about publishers — reducing players into metrics and numbers — we’re not doing any of that. We want to make a space sim in a big open sandbox world, and we have a strong community with a lot of great feedback and ideas. It’s liberating. It’s exciting.”
Roberts not only wants to cut out the traditional publisher, his stated goal is to earn the complete cost of development for Star Citizen through crowd funding, eliminating investors, as well. To get there, Star Citizen will need to bring in just under $22 million. Given that the campaign hit $10 million on June 10 and now (as of July 30) sits at $14.9 million, it’s a safe bet it will get there.
“My dream is to make Star Citizen the Barcelona, or the Green Bay Packers is the example in American football, of videogames. If I can maneuver Star Citizen where all we care about is making the game better every day and supporting the community, that’s what I want to achieve. I think the community that’s backed us so far has responded to that idea. To some level it feels empowering they can get involved and make that happen in a domain where normally you need these big mega corporations.”