Massively Overthinking: How will Star Citizen make money after launch?

During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.

“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”

Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Oh, are they not going to release the game in a “beta” or “Early Access” for $20-$50 for several years and sell ships until it “launches” essentially a second time? It’s worked for them so far, why would they stop? This is clearly a premium game for a core audience that seems to have deep pockets.

If we’re talking about a full “release” though, it’d probably be similar to Elite Dangerous I think: skins and expansion. Tiger striped laser beams, “Eat space dust” bumper stickers, ship bobbleheads of Chris Roberts, that sort of thing. Backers will get the content they were promised, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things like the FPS mode cost non-backers extra or even got sold off as separate games, ala EVE’s DUST 514.

I can’t imagine a constant slew of new ships, but they’ll still come out. Again looking to Elite, I wonder if maybe different types of weapons and tech might be the lore reason to have different types of ships. Think of early MMOs when we needed both frost and fire swords because the enemy might resist one and be weak to the other. Again, these might be sold in the shops during “Early Access” or something, but post launch, they’d probably be kept behind an expansion wall, but they’d be seen/felt in a way that players who don’t pony up would be tempted to open their wallets.

Naturally, the team will shed burnout out employees ready for their next project and replace them with a new team that largely won’t understand the creation of the game as per usual in this industry. More importantly, though, is release in itself is a good way to bring in revenue. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw physical rewards for Deluxe Editions of the game so you can own that Roberts bobblehead in game and in real life!

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): A few years ago, devs said that the plan for post-launch monetisation was to directly sell in-game currency for cash and if that didn’t raise enough they hinted at continuing with ship sales. There are also subscriptions and box sales, which should generate a lot of money. The problem is that there’s never been a game as heavily crowdfunded as Star Citizen, and we really don’t know how deep the well goes. I’ve been wrong every year with my prediction that the money will dry up. The market will be largely exhausted at some point, though, and that’s bad news for the studios and devs working on the game.

Crowdfunding lets a company front-load a percentage of the money it’s going to make before the game is released, and the worst case is that the devs reach a high percentage of market penetration before launch and need to secure funding from elsewhere to keep the studios going. For small indie studios, that can mean a failed/abandoned project or jumping into another crowdfunded game, but CIG is probably big enough to secure massive investment if that happens. Unless they already have more projects underway when release comes, though, I do expect that they’ll release a bunch of staff and studio contracts anyway as you don’t need as many people for live operations as development. That’s just the nature of MMO development.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Star Citizen has never shown even the slightest hesitation when it comes to milking whales. It certainly isn’t going to stop after launch. I don’t think whales can support the game quite as luxuriously post-launch, however. I expect the current subscription to ramp up in importance, I’d be surprised if an elaborate cash shop doesn’t eventually roll out, I expect the hinted-at currency sales to materialize, I imagine the pay-to-win cries will grow louder as the game skirts those boundaries, and then I expect paid expansions and DLC. Every major video game company is monetizing us six ways to Sunday. Tripledipping is for noobs; this year we’re sextupledipping!

I do expect the studio to downsize because to do otherwise would be foolish. All online game studios eventually switch to live team mode. You can’t bleed money on R&D forever when you no longer need R&D.

But as I said on the podcast, I don’t honestly think we’re going to see anything like a launch for several more years, and who knows what the industry will look like by then. Maybe lockboxes will be regulated and people will stop buying pixel ships on spec in the future. A girl can dream.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I feel like there are a lot of assumptions that need to be baked into this question right off of the bat. I mean, for one thing, Star Citizen seems to have already hit on a pretty great monetization scheme by continually crowdfunding and setting an expectation that the game is still in the “ramping up to production” stage instead of the “should be steamrolling along” stage, so there’s always the question of whether or not the game will ever move on to an explicit “launch” stage when this one is so easy to extend for ever. There’s also the assumption that the game wouldn’t lay off lots of people, which… look, it’s awful, but it’s a gross reality of the industry whenever a game ships.

Heck, it seems like the ever-extending feature bloat alone does a good job of continually promising the stars and stepping up a need for another batch of funding. Worth keeping that in your mind for a bit…

What’s important is that these are the assumptions we’re working with, and by gum, we’re going with it. We’re going to assume that the game has actually called it a launch and that the layoffs, while they probably still happened, aren’t going to do much more than serve as a nudge financially. How does the game keep funding itself?

For starters, I don’t necessarily agree that “selling ships that are not actually available” will lose its appeal; after all, the game has sold itself so long on that exact premise that most of its supporters kind of expect it now. Why stop there? Heck, why stop with ships? I think there’s some plausibility to expanding the game’s feature list even further in perpetuity – pay another $10 to unlock the game’s Toilet Customization Module or Deciding On Your Ship’s In-Game Call Ringtone Module. Considering that the game is already meant to have some modularity with further releases of its story, that hardly seems out of the realm of possibility.

Beyond that, though, I see an ugly possibility when the game has already added a large number of features that seem tailor-made to pump up irritation in the name of “immersion.” I remember reading an early review of part of the game wherein you had to go through the same steps to cycle an airlock every single time, which raises the question of whether or not that would be an immediate target for any sort of monetization. You don’t have to subscribe, no… but don’t you want to pay five bucks to skip that for a month? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Of course, I also think the questions remain about whether or not the game is ever going to actually be in a launch state. But hey, assumptions were made in the premise.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): If you think that the studio is going to change up what’s been working fabulously for the team so far, you have to be crazy. I’d say expect to see advance ship sales continue, providing a lucrative and neverending stream of revenue. If the ships are released to the rest of the gaming public for in-game acquisition a few months down the line, I don’t see much in the way of complaints here.

Keeping those whales hooked and swimming after the game and studio is key, and Star Citizen surely has its fair share of them. Other than that, box sales (for both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen) will be a big one, as will DLC, microtransactions and macrotransactions, the inevitable lockboxes, and even an expansion on the current subscription plan that offers perks in exchange for regular funding. If that fails, there’s always the Kickstarter for Star Citizen 2! (What, too soon?)

Your turn!

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103 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: How will Star Citizen make money after launch?"

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Dan

A BIG cash shop, LE ship sales, and a premium play subscription model. Straight up.

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Byórðæįr

I would start with where the team came from. Chris Roberts and Erin Roberts are from an older age when firing off burned out employees simply was not done. You were expected to put your time into a company that trained you but they were also supposed to hang on to you at the level you had competence at. The bulk of the employees come from the two hundred quality assurance testers that were hired by Activision Blizzard via volt for a six month gig. Those guys all swore that they would not be like the qa guys that were the permanent team at which point I had to admit that the qa leads were not permanent employees and had only been working for two weeks longer than the testers. At which point I got accused of being management.

To which I asked if it was revenge or wanting to due best for the people he knew was getting laid off at the end of the contract. He said that they did not want any of the management that thought it was good idea to lay people off, and said he thought I was on their side by talking about companies mid level managers wasting company assets. I laughed and said I was a volt employee like him, mostly. At which point I got a dirty look, and I said you see me getting a paper copy of the pay roll like every one at volt right? He said that did not answer the question. I sighed and said it was the best he was going to get but that the point is most of the studios have internal qa teams that you want to get onto. He blinked and said a few things about the bug reports not going anywhere and I sighed and said I am the wrong person to say that then he said so your not management. I finally sighed and I was a shareholder and the board has no idea of some of the stuff that is going on all they see is one time mile stones being hit. At which point asked why he was asking then? He said he was starting a project, that the guys had asked him to offer me a job with them. They had no money no assets were going to have to moonlight and at that point I could not figure out why he said I was mean to his sister and his nephew. I sighed and finally said she does not have the same last name as you and does not look that similar to you for me to guess who you are talking about. At which point he said it must be someone else on the team. I snicker and said it must be Alyssa them. He blinked and said maybe you do know her then. I talked him longer and got a better idea of the view point of that group than just working for them, so I have a feeling laying off burned out employees is not one of their goals. Later I understood from his sister that his dad that he expected me to know who was actually was a developer I had met before.

So my guess is that they are going to look to what works. Subscriptions are in two levels like they have know only the first pays game time and the second helps fund development.

Most companies have to sell some kind of virtual goods in order to supplement the server load of the free trials. They usually have to sell expansion packs to fund server upgrades as the hard ware changes enough over two to three years that servers that are good enough this year are end of life in five years. Band width is not so bad in costs and the new client update system reduces that load even more.

So Chris Roberts talked about releasing new models of ships every year which is in game costs. So as long a creidt sinks are not out of wack with other mmo’s then people are going to have to from time to time leverage the ability to buy in game credits when what they have in place is not enough to complete a mission or quest and they don’t want to take the time out of the mission to go mine some rock to generate enough to replace a laser or top up the ammo. That tends to break the forth wall but that should generate income as well. Fun being what most player want to focus on and break in the story to get five more credits can be interesting but is just usually a hassle that cuts into your play time.

From there we have ships of the line, we have modding, and several things that likely are going to require some kind of system to get content into the game from the players and that is likely going to require employees to make that happen. Some how that has to be paid for without creating a stumbling block for inventors and innovators.

So my guess is the two tiers of sub fees will continue, holidays packages, limited edition ships for out of game events, ship paint templates, extra weapons and ammo, and a service charge to finalize assets for game use. Just because it works in your mod does not mean it will work in the game systems as complex as they have become.

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Simon Morris

Can you imagine how popular and how much funding, buying and furnishing your own apartments on planets/moons/spacestations is going to be?. That is going to be a very popular source of MT content right there, especially if there are certain apartments or penthouses on certain planets with great views. Or if with the tech they can have you pick a locale through your own exploration, pick the view you want, build your homestead then furnish it. That kind of building in the PU is going to be wildly popular.

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Simon Morris

I expect studios consolidated down by years after launch especially the U.S ones L. A and Texas, core teams like Berlin with all their tech expertise will remain but probably slimmed down to focus on a more relaxed support and development focus over the breakneck game-changing research that is the pace that it is currently. I’d guess at a reduction of 20% or so after the first year, but don’t see it going beyond a 40% reduction globally as the ambition is still huge and to even deliver on the stretch goals they have set is years of work which will require multiple studios and a lot of the talent they are currently utilising.

Funding wise: More of the same with a massive increase in players and advertising as the game blossoms and players join up. I guess the trick will be to anticipate & ride the crest of the wave and not to overstretch themselves if years from now the population wanes. They are anticipating and planning for a lifespan of decades. They do it right I don’t see that as unrealistic, especially looking at how incredible the game looks.

As a backer I personally am more eager to see the gameplay mechanics of trade, salvage, mining, bounty hunting, exploration and all the other gameplay mechanics being focused on – as the Persistent Universe gameplay mechanics that Tony Z preaches needs to be made flesh and properly work and mesh together.

(Ps: character bobble-heads are already covered in an early stretch-goal under ship [cockpit] decorations).

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Hebel

CR has already explained the monetization model several times….
The player can buy monthly a limited amount of ingame credits and they want sell several singleplayer games based on the Star Citizen IP like Squadron 42.

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Utakata

Or tl,dr:

Andrew: “Whales and baubles.”
Brendan: “Whales, subscription and baubles.”
Bree: “Whales, subscription, baubles and whales.”
Eliot: “Whales, subscription, whales, whales, baubles and whales.”
Justin: “Whale, whales, whales, whales and baked in whales, whales, whales.”

o.O

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Ken from Chicago

CIG has said STAR CITIZEN would be buy-to-play when it launches. You buy the starter pack and you have the game. That’s officially the current business model. The rest is revenue to support the development of the game. All the items sold will be obtainable with in-game currency.

That all said ….

Most MMOs fire a lot of staff once they launch because creating a game is different from running a game. On the other hand, a lot of features that were stretch goals probably won’t be available at launch. Chris Roberts said the game would launch with a “minimum viable product”, travel, combat, trading, permanence, a number of non-combat professions (eg, mining, trading, farming, exploring, racing, etc.) and a certain number of star systems to play in and use jump engines to travel to. So far we’ve been basically been shown one star system with a few planets / moons.

So to fund development of those extra features, they might continue subscriptions and direct contributions and … possibly cash shop ships, gear and other items. As has been reported over and over at Massively OP and at MMO news sites in general, MMOs are an ongoing service, constantly needed new development. Ask the old 12 ton gorilla in the field, WORLD OF WARCRAFT, if fans think it’s okay to rest on your laurels after launch, or fans of NO MAN’S SKY, ELITE DANGEROUS, STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC, CITY OF HEROES, STAR WARS GALAXIES, GUILD WARS 2, STAR TREK ONLINE.

What happens when all of the stretch goal features are included? That might be when they do a massive layoff of the devs and focus more on maintenance. At one point, they said the shared online multi-player Permanent Universe would be maintained by CIG while offline private version could be played–and modded–by individual players. It’s hard to say if that will still be the case.

Yes, it’s been ages since they’ve talked about their business model post launch. I vaguely remember reading CIG wanted the game to last at least a decade. That seemed to be the goal of DESTINY and the MASS EFFECT teams a few years ago so I could see that as the plan for STAR CITIZEN after launch. Then again, all of questions and the commotion has been pof the past two years of whether they will ever get the alpha and later the beta launched–much less the actual game.

I think they could go either way, retrench and recede to a more maintenance focus or continue on in a more expansive developmental focus, added new feature and elements to the game–with the obvious big feature post launch: Virtual Reality (preferably where a 90+ frames per second rate so people don’t get nauseous).

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Robert Mann

They will do whatever they can to keep gacha whaling. Including the shipment of ‘actual SC merchandise’ like space burgers and the other half-joking stuff they constantly fake-advertise just at the moment. That’s where I think they will be.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

I assume they will stick to there plan and sell the in game currency UEC. However they are currently showing signs of chasing money to the determent of backers so maybe they will go the full mobile game ftp model.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

If you think they’re not going to fire 80-90% of the pre-release development staff once the game launches, you haven’t been around here very long.

Every game ever made has done this, and every game ever made probably always will, because the production staff needed to create the mountain of new systems and content that has to be in place for a viable release cannot be sustained by any plausible post-release revenue stream, regardless of monetization tactics.

So, the biggest part of “how will they pay for it” is, they won’t, at least they won’t be paying for what they have been doing, to the tune they have been. They will have to figure out how to pay for what comes after, which won’t be trivial, but which also will be an order of magnitude smaller in scope than what they’re doing right now.

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Witches

Cosmetics?

I can see people buying paintjobs for their ships, different coloured laser beams and shields, EVA vehicles, mounts, weapons, etc.

The FPS module can work like any other FPS game, they should be good, i would be shocked if they didn’t do well at launch just on people trying to save face for backing it.

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Paragon Lost

Well, they’ve already been extremely profitable so far. So that gives them quite a buffer to live off before they need to worry much about it. I think they will overall continue to be profitable, you can see how desperate players are for this type of mmo (myself included of course).

I’m sure they’ll continue to expand upon what they’ve already mastered quite handily, which is getting players to buy add on doohickies. In this case the base doohickies have been additional ships and the like, I’m sure they’ve got a lot more up their sleeve in the future to expand on that money making cash cow.

Want to add that as a whale player by nature, (meaning I have the spare income and desire to spend money if options are available) I find SC’s business practice so far to be pretty atrocious and it’s why I didn’t buy a few ships and refuse to until the game is released. I feel anymore that they exist just as much to generate new income as they do to make an mmo. :/ That rubs me wrong.

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Melissa McDonald

It always makes me scratch my head how a game like Second Life can have literally thousands of “skins” available, and millions of clothing options, all made by the community, and $150 Million dollar MMOs can’t give you more than a few skins and a few clothing choices.

Don’t they realize how easy it is to crank out skins and clothing? And how lucrative? I’ve done it and it’s not that hard. A little bit of skill with Photoshop, Daz, Blender, Maya, etc., and you can manufacture endless variations without too much work. Why don’t games do more of this? A single staff member could create a lot of content.

If I was on the board I would be heading up the cosmetics department for the game. And we’d be planning on a ton of skins and clothing options. And it would make bank. Yes – AFTER YOU BOUGHT YOUR SHIP. People need a far bigger wardrobe than they need a fleet of ships.

And I would hire the skin-maker from the LAQROKI skin shop in Second Life. They do some really good work, and have 100 skins to choose from, who knows, maybe more.

And there is always the desire for a better-looking skin, or one with a complexion that more closely matches your own, or suits your vision for your avatar. People want choices. As many as possible.

Cosmetics are the key to after-launch profits. I sincerely believe this.

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Dug From The Earth

I remember when companies would make money on a game, after release, by continuing to sell more copies of the game. You know, because it was a good, fun game…

Sad how greed has led companies to “innovate” above and beyond that simple concept

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Schmidt.Capela

Star Citizen will likely require far less money after it’s released, and it has ways aplenty to generate that revenue stream. Extra S42 chapters would pay for themselves from their sale, expansions are always a possibility, and there are things the game can sell on a cash store to make some revenue in between.

The studio, CIG, will likely start working in other games. AFAIK one of the goals Chris Roberts had with Star Citizen was to start a studio that could be used to make his future games. I would say there’s a good chance most Star Citizen developers will get moved to one or more new projects after Star Citizen is released.

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primal

star citizen is his future game to carry on for a long time. Foundry 42 will primarily be making the sq42 stuff. If he tries to go making other types of games itll be digital anvil/origin which ever one it was all over again where it collapses under having to many games in the works at one time and running out of money for all of it

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Schmidt.Capela

The story with Origin is quite a bit more convoluted; after EA’s first, failed, attempt to acquire Origin, it started to apply pressure on Origin’s business partners to make things more difficulty for Origin; things like securing exclusivity deals with some of Origin’s suppliers, forcing them to seek different (and often more expensive) suppliers and disrupting their internal processes. Nasty stuff, even if it was all done through legal means.

Couple that with how Origin was truly an indie in spirit — it was manned by artists, not businesspersons, and thus wasn’t able to respond to such aggressive business tactics — and this extra pressure forced Origin to the brink of bankruptcy, which gave the founders a hard choice: they could either accept the offer they had previously rejected and sell the company to EA — together with the game IP they had created, which was what EA was truly after — or let it close down, potentially losing their IP anyway and making everyone who ever invested in the company lose their investment.

Worse, I believe EA wasn’t really interested in using the IP. What I think EA truly wanted was to remove the competition. Which is why so many of the games franchises that fell into the hands of EA as it acquired numerous studios were discontinued. And it’s also the reason I refused to purchase any EA game for over a decade, and even now refuse to spend any money on EA’s Origin store; using for their store the name and logo of the studio they ruthlessly killed back then is very disrespectful for everyone who was a fan of the studio.

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chriskovo .

At this point I think it is questionable whether it will launch at all with all the bloat they have added.

Estranged
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Estranged

Single game focused companies lay off after large projects are completed, there is nothing to do for much of the staff any longer. This is natural.

As far as monetization goes, some say ships will no longer be offered after launch – only currency sales. Ships will only be obtainable by grinding. Some disagree.

Question. Has the vast majority of people interested in Star Citizen already bought into it?

luxundae
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luxundae

Sad but true: This is the gaming industry, so there will be large layoffs after the release. Or some not-technically-layoff mechanism to rapidly and significantly reduce headcount.

Estranged
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Estranged

The life of a contract worker.

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Jeremy

Seems like a pointless question. The game will never “launch.”

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Reht

They will sell pay to win addons like the poopchute 3000. You will be able to accomplish so much more with your play time by removing the need to leave your cockpit to relieve yourself.

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styopa
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styopa

The exact question I’ve asked repeatedly IN THIS FORUM since, oh, 2015? When did MOP begin?

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MesaSage

They’ll sell space rides to Lord British.

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Paragon Lost

lol! Soo much awesome in that comment. Nicely played. heh. I was just making the comparison the other day that I see what ESO and on a much larger scale what CS is doing is nothing more than being in the business to generate more income instead of primarily being in the business to release a stable, finished, excellent mmo. They can give each other hand jobs over how well they’ve mastered the art of generating income.

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ichi sakari

Several comments in the article run contrary to CIG’s stated plans – are the writers not informed of those plans or do you believe CIG will flip and/or flop?

They’ve said no ship sales, no game sub, no pay-for-convenience mechanics, but they have said they’d sell UEC and episodes of 42. They’ll continue to sell boxes if the game gets decent reviews, and they may be able to make some cash licensing merchandise (and maybe some techs they develop).

I wonder if they’ll see reduced overhead costs since they’re marketing a little differently and the current ‘investors’ won’t get any monetary rewards.

Honestly I think they’ll do fine, even if they keep the staff fairly beefy, ’cause they’ll need to fill out the expansive world they’ve said they’re building. I do think the official release will be delayed for as long as they can to keep the ships sales option open.

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Paragon Lost

Honestly and quite bluntly I feel that what they say and what they do aren’t exactly the same. I think they’ll sell more ships and whatever since they’ve seen that it’s a proven way to generate money.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

they also said they wouldn’t sell LTI anymore. at least twice.

nevermind however number of things they said the would or wouldn’t do in the future that they’ve since reneged on.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

They’ve said they will be selling ships via “game packages”, they’ve also said they will be selling concept ships after release. As mentioned in the article, the idea that they knock their major money earner on the head is laughable.

This is a company that has gone back on quite a few things it’s said so why anyone thinks ‘no ships after launch circa 2013’ is some kind of promise set in stone is beyond me.

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ichi sakari

Do you have a citation for them selling concept ships post-release? They’ve said they’ll sell starter ship as part of packages, but I’d like to see where they said concept ships for RMT.

https://forums.robertsspaceindustries.com/discussion/comment/173901/#Comment_173901

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Paragon Lost

You might want to save and print that up so that you can compare it with the reality that will be in the future. I have a strong suspicion that you’ll find that they do end up indeed coming up with a way to sell for cash a means to purchases ships etc.

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Oleg Chebeneev

Thanks for clarifying that they told they wont sell ships after release. I could swear Ive heard it from CIG. As for sub. They probably said no to forced sub. I dont see why they wouldnt keep offering optional sub.

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Sray

I suspect a GTAO style currency selling plan: sell game currency, make earning currency via game play time consuming, and continuously introduce more and more expensive “must have” items.

I think another question that is connected to this is “who will be paying for this once launched?” There’s a good chance that a great many of the folks who have been funding the development are going to close their wallets once the game is launched (a not necessarily undeserved “I’ve done my part” attitude), and there’s not a lot of indications that there’s still another 4 or 5 million players out there who are waiting to jump on board after the game launches; the largest portion of the game’s audience has likely already “bought in” financially already. By the time Star Citizen arrives, it’s going to look like another jack-of-all-trades MMO when players will be able to find more focused experiences in games like No Man’s Sky and Elite: Dangerous, so the bulk of those who are going to jump aboard have likely already done so.

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Roger Melly

Monocles :)

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Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

yeah this very subject keeps me up at night… (figuratively at least) I think we spoiled them so much that we can pretty much forget about earning ships in game without grinding like 3 accounts simultaneously just to be able to sustain 1 account with actual ships. With that I’d imagine they’ll continue selling ships for real money post launch … thats just too profitable a revenue steam to kill.

Additionally I’d expect the usual DLCs, cosmetic stuff and perhaps extending the ship sales to guns, ground vehicles and anything else. I am already scared of the inflation this might cause.

Hopefully I am just being paranoid but I wouldnt bet on it

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primal

they dont plan on charging for any “DLC” for star citizen because its just an expanding universe. it would be weird if players were locked out of certain places just because they didnt buy something. with the delta patcher they can update the game more frequently and because it uses a combination of getting it from amazon and peer 2 peer so costs are drastically reduced (dont moan about it cus warcraft uses peer 2 peer to)

Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

Plenty of ways they can add DLCs without disrupting the game if they wanted to, like new profession/classes for examples, Classes of ships / vehicles (like say unlock Gas miner ships or constructors.), different racial ships etc.. But even then why do you think they’d steer away from disruptive DLCs, why do you think they might shy away from say releasing a dlc with say 3 new star systems. would that fracture the playerbase? yes but thats what every single MMOs that has expansion does. I’d say its actually a better idea (from a business stand point) here because you have a lot of people who invested 1000s in the game. If they release such a dlc for say $50 what is the likely outcome? that people will buy it or that they will quit the game a throw their investment away?

Now of course I am not saying they’re going to do any of this, but we as backers did send them a strong message that we’re more then willing to pay for in game items with real money so I have no doubt that some way or an other they will continue selling ingame items and there is just so many ships and guns they can create hence sooner or later its logical to assume they’ll find some other ingame thing to sell

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Melissa McDonald

Cosmetics are the one thing guaranteed to always sell and keep selling. Just keep cranking out clothing and cosmetic gear and people will buy it.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

Most of the talk from CIG about post release income has been about selling in game currency for cash. They’ve talked about respawing your ships faster if you pay, I expect to see much more of this type of decision. Things that are innocent enough when taken by themselves but point to design decisions made to push you to the cash shop.

I could see them ending up with something not dissimilar to SWTORs model.

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ichi sakari

I’d like to see the citation on the pay-to-spawn-ships-faster thing, I think you may be conflating in-game insurance with pay-for-convenience mechanics.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

never heard of the faster respawn thing until you mentioned it here. OO where did you hear this? ;S

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

There was a lore article earlier this year where they were trying to build this as something that had a place in the SC universe, it’s been mentioned a couple of times in ATVs from what I remember.

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ichi sakari

yeah, you’ve conflated in-game insurance with RMT faster respawn

paying cash to respawn faster is not a real thing

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primal

well thats not really that new, my mate used play ESO, and when you pay for the optional sub you get XP boosts, more XP boosts while leveling with another player who has sub, teleports to each other etc.

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Lethality

It’s a fair question for any early access game… what is the incentive to launch? Is the mode they’re in now more capable of maintaining the revenue stream to run the company? In what new ways can they earn as much or more as they are now?

I don’t have a good answer. I do suspect they’ll continue selling ships (even though they said this will end).

I also don’t expect they’ll downsize for some time, if ever, unless the project takes a turn for the worse. It seems the revenue plan right now is to support 450 studio employees and all of the rest that goes along with developing and supporting a massive online game.

Remember, they don’t have a publisher to answer to. They don’t have profits to worry about distributing. They just have to operate in the black. If they have a plan for $30m a year in revenue. they can continue like this ad infinitum.

Dantos
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Dantos

The only thing they do need to ‘launch’ is sq42, but that could just go episodic. I could definitely see them going for something like warframe, get a decent framework out and just keep iterating on that, adding more and more systems over time, in like a permanent early access phase.

As far as monetization? sounds like currency, more ships, cosmetics, maybe a sub of some kind, hanger/inventory space, tons of things they could do.

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Armsbend

I really don’t think you’d need anywhere near that amount of folks on a launched game. I mean a lot of those guys have to be fairly specialized engineers – not really needed for ongoing game development.

my 2 UEC

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Oleg Chebeneev

Reading this I feel like MOP stuff thinks of CIG as money hungry siths who want to milk every single star citizen dry. Some rediculous thoughts like “They will charge people for FPS gameplay” made me chuckle.

Let me tell you what they wont do:
1. There wont be any lockboxes. This shit is common for asian F2P, but they are trying to create realistic immersive universe, and lockboxes dont belong there. You should think of what CIG will or not do from exactly this point. They are serious about creating believable universe.
2. They will never charge money for unlocking star systems, planets, getting access to any kind of ships or any type of gameplay.
3. Outside starting package with Aurora, they wont sell common ships. Every single one of you told they will, and Im not sure about this myself, but selling point of buying ships now is LTI (Lifetime Insurance). And after PU launches, there wont be ships with LTI for sale. They made it clear that LTI is only early backers thing. Also I might be wrong, but I think Chris personally said there wont be ship sales after release.
4. I doubt they will ever introduce official real money > credits exchange. This could easily ruin economy and mark SC as P2W. Chris would never risk it.

Now what they will most likely do:
1. Obviously they will sell game packages for PU and SQ42 and will keep producing and selling singleplayer story content. There are 3 parts of SQ42 planned already which will take them many years to finish. They can create campaigns like that for other notable ingame events.
2 Sell unique wardrobe that you cant get ingame. Something like TSW costumes. Im 100% sure they will. I also think they will create possibility for any player to make costumes or toys, upload them and sell for ingame or real cash. Quality will be heavily controlled by CIG and they will recieve a cut from every sale.
3. Sell skins and decorations for ships. Different types of chairs for cockpit. Cool stuff for outposts.
4. Subscription. Subbers will recieve some monthly creds, keep being first to get their hands on magazine. Plus they will get access to subscribers exclusive areas ingame. Like that MIllion Mile High Club.
5. Apps for that ingame personal gadget worn on arm. Forgot how its called. They can make Appstore type system and sell ANYTHING there, from minigames to ingame newspaper.

Also MOP stuff just kept talking how they will soon after launch jump into next project moving core devs there. You people dont understand the real scope of SC they want to make. They barely scratched the surface. They will barely scrach the surface when PU will launch. To implement 100 star systems in full detail will take so much time they wont have time and money for other project.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

You made me log into my SC account which is depressing. You can currently buy UEC via real money. A 20,000 UEC Chit will cost you $22.00 USD.

IF you logon to RSI you will see under STORE, EXTRA’s tab, United Earth Credits. 3 offerings there of 5K, 10K and 20K UEC for sale for real money :)

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Oleg Chebeneev

Well, there is no economy in alpha, so they dont risk ruining it selling UEC now

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Armsbend

Sparkle ponies incoming!!

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

, but selling point of buying ships now is LTI (Lifetime Insurance)

only certain concept ships come with LTI these days.

and they said they were going to no longer sell ship with LTI at least twice now only to renege and sell more LTI things.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Want to speculate how much development back log is involved in all the current list of concept ships :) The vaunted pipeline isn’t delivering very quickly.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

no i don’t. we do know they have a helluva alot of asset artists on payroll tho for a long time now.

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GanonslayerCP .

SC is just beginning work on basic bug tracking software, 5 years after the start of development. I’m not too worried about how they will make money after launch.

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primal

wrong theyve doing it for years, there just identifying more ways to get more specific stuff tracked and to be sent back as more stuff comes online

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rafael12104

Hmm… well, I think it would be much the same as we see from AAA MMOs.

First. Down sizing. Ah yes, there is the rub. Some of “talent” will find other things that tweak their fancy outside of CIG, maybe… They will consolidate the support and streamline the continuing dev effort and establish a cadence for updates and presumably content. There will be departures, promotions, and maybe even a few “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

Content. Creatively using the word will be the new normal. Suddenly content will be cosmetics, improvements, and just about anything else that can generate some coin. Oh, there will be DLC or maybe for SC and outright xpac on the roadmap for sure. But that will come much later.

In the meantime, you have sales to those who haven’t bought in yet, and there are plenty out there. You’ll have subs under the guise of some patreon packs. And of course there will the cash shop. etc. etc. etc.

The thing about SC, IMO, it is just the first foundation of a company that will also develop other games as well. OR CIG will get bought out by EA or Ubi, Activision, or Amazon????. And then? The dream will be over, as happens with most games.

It’s the circle of life Simba!

Ah… but what if the game sucks aka fails at point of sale. Hmm, well that would be a whole other kettle of fish wouldn’t it?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

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rafael12104

Nice! Lol

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

ride em space cowboy.jpg
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rafael12104

LOL! Just made me laugh out loud here at work. There was total silence and then my loud gufaw…. Love it!

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Paragon Lost

lol! Yep, out loud guffaw here as well. I’ve been Schlagged!

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primal

id prefer just pay a subscription tbh but the gaming consumer has spoken and doesnt like mandatory subscriptions which is why only a few big ones can get away with it like Warcraft, FF14 and eve.

Game has to be monetized though otherwise where would the money come from.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

The problem with early access and long, publicly available development cycles is that it takes all the pop out of the actual launch. It doesn’t mean the game won’t continue to sell… look at Minecraft… it just means that there won’t be a queue of people waiting to jump on board. There is not a No Man’s Sky big pay day waiting for Star Citizen. By the time it ships anybody really interested in the game will likely have been exposed to it and bought in, walked away, or both. Chris Roberts has already used up all the publicity that comes from something being shiny and new. So I expect that post-launch will look exactly like pre-launch, with selling baubles to the installed base being the prime function of the game.

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shear

Hasn’t it been stated already? They will be selling in-game money, I mean they are already selling it but they will continue to sell it.

I bet some cosmetic things as well, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Wouldn’t be surprised if they sold ships with unique designs like the “Cutless black”. I mean their biggest income generator is the ships so they will probably keep on selling ships in some form or fashion too.

Also a sub, they probably will have an optional sub, probably continue on the sub they have now with some added ingame benefits too.

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TheDonDude

After…. l…aunch? La…unch? What?

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Oleg Chebeneev

They could call it PU launch when they have 3-5 fully working systems and core announced features implemented (like mining, repairing and bounty hunting). Thats probably 4 years away.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

considering that CR said the next patch for a game that has been in early access for 4 years would be “early access launch state” in the next patch… :D

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Armsbend

I still feel uncomfortable giving one man his own acronym.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

OLASCR doesn’t have as nice a ring to it, and chris roberts gets tired to type out everytime you have to refer to something chris roberts has said becuase chris roberts like to say alot of often amusing things so chris roberts is very quoteable.

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GanonslayerCP .

And I for one, totally believe him. They have always been prompt with patch dates in the past, and never backpedal on what features those patches will contain.

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A Dad Supreme

Excellent sarcasm. I can imagine him saying that with a straight face too… kudos.

The sad/funny thing is… even though you don’t see it posted, there are people who do believe exactly that because they’ve mitigated or downplayed the delays and creep as this, that and the other thing.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

wat

i mean all that is not really anything to do with the point i was making relevant to the post i was replying to.

but 3.0 is literally a lot of backpedaled from stuff it was advertised to contain.

and i don’t think they’ve made an advertised (patch) date yet? maybe a couple 2.x patches were on time?

edit: i think you needed an /s there lol. can never tell with these article comment sections lmao.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i wasn’t sure at first then i read his other comment and came back and read it again :D

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Tobasco da Gama

I think there are a lot of people who are waiting to buy in until the game itself is released. I won’t try to pull a specific number out of my ass, but I bet it’s no less than equal to the number who have already backed the game. (~1 million?)

So, CIG definitely hopes to sell game packages to those players at $40-60 a pop, depending on whether they want SQ42 or just the PU. Also, everyone but early backers (pre-2016, IIRC?) will need to pay for the second SQ42 episode. If they decide to do any episodes beyond that, absolutely everyone will need to shell out. No pricing on the individual episodes, but I’m gonna guess $20 each.

Those are two pretty solid revenue streams that don’t actually rely on whales.

But we also know that RMT is going to be a thing, via UEC. UEC will be spendable on literally everything, from ships and modules to insurance policies to fuel and repairs. Maybe you’ll even need to drop a couple of UEC into your space toilet every time you use it or something. So, that’s the whales taken care of from one angle.

Ok, so that covers all the stuff we know about from the horse’s mouth. Here’s my wild speculation: ship concept sales will continue. The whales love them, for some fucking reason, so CIG has absolutely no reason to stop doing them just because the game has launched. All they have to do is put out one of their luxury-car trailers and say, “We’re thinking of making this, but we want to do presales to judge whether there’s enough demand to justify the effort”, and the wallets will open.

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A Dad Supreme

“I think there are a lot of people who are waiting to buy in until the game itself is released.”
======
Guilty as charged.

I really hope SC is a great game because I want to play it, but I refuse to give them (or most Kickstarter games) any of my money until after I see proof of a solid game because I don’t want to end up with egg on my face.

Since a game like this (and the way I plan to play it) isn’t about a “race”, it won’t matter if I wait a few weeks or a few months until I see everything sorted out.

After you’ve lived through the alpha/beta and launch of the ORIGINAL FFXIV for about a year, you pledge never to go through anything like that ever again.

It was like the Vietnam War of MMOs.

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Paragon Lost

Exactly, awesome summation ADS, exactly the same boat I’m in with regards to SC.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

their webteam inadvertently disclosed to huffpo.qc (quebec french office) about a year ago there was 500k accounts with some paid item on them.

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Lethality

You know what’s amazingly great about that? There’s nothing but upside in the amount of people waiting to buy in.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

ayyy lmao

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Lethality

Sucks when your own teardown tactic works against you, doesn’t it?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

wat?

it’s rare that an early access game sells more later than early on in early access.

while i have no doubt there’s a fair number of people waiting for it to launch, the ship very likely also long ago sailed given the competing products in this space being demonstrateably further along in reaching their own development goals than SC while hainv much less predatory and consumer unfriendly monetization schemes than SC has now let alone w/e the future holds for this game in that regard.

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A Dad Supreme

” How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch?”
======
This is the basic problem for almost any Kickstarter game imo.

A Kickstarter game’s funding (usually) comes from individuals who are not wealthy. Even SC says the average donation isn’t something like $1,000 a player I believe.

So what Kickstarter games do is this: they are basically selling lifetime memberships in a way. If you pledge a certain amount of money while the game is initially funding (usually not the top but not the entry level), the company gives you everything (and then some) you need to play the game without ever spending another dime. So even if your model eventually launches B2P or P2P, the original backers are exempt from any of that, especially a monthly fee.

Now unless that game is still planning on making those initial backers pay a sub in addition to the prior funding, the only new money available is coming from people like me who is walking off the street weeks or months after launch, trying the game out and either staying or leaving. In the case of most of the recent MMOs made over the last decade, that mostly consists of leaving, not staying.

I think SC will have to put more charges/fees or do something like gold selling on the original Kickstarter backers that Funcom’s Secret World Legends does with Aurum to it’s Lifetime Members.

If the game doesn’t catch on or isn’t as smooth as they promised with doubters (and there are plenty of those), they’ll be stuck with only a core fanbase that basically doesn’t have to spend a dime due to early backing, so SC will have to figure some way to worm more money out of those players other than even more ships.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

they already sell “gold” which can be used in a store filled with mostly broken (as in not working or equipable) ship gear items (weapons/engines/ammo/etc).

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A Dad Supreme

Hmm.. didn’t know that.

Well, they will have to figure out a way to worm that into making gold an important commodity somehow like it is in Secret World Legends.

From expanding your inventory, improving the sprint, finishing out your museum, and improving your gear, Aurum (gold) is pretty much a necessity for that game even if you’ve already given Funcom a couple hundreds dollars for “everything” in the past.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

supposedly in the future it will be used to buy everything in game.

from ships to ship gear to small arms to outfits to space suits to ground vehicles to fuel to repairs to ammo and beyond.

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primal

you talking about UEC? that is the currency of the entire game. so its not supposedly it is how you buy stuff

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Jack Pipsam

Selling 3D printed versions of the ships or perhaps printable cardboard cut-outs.

Be more interesting than thousands for a CGI model.

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Simon Morris

Definitely, CIG sells a detailed .Max file download that you can get 3d printed and then paint yourself. That would be severely tempting for my poor wallet. :’)

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

they already sell those. they are super cheaply made and take at least six months to get shipped from teh factory in china.

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kgptzac

Star Citizen launching would be a singularity event. I think it’s more fun to think about how much money it’ll keep sucking in until that happens.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

i expect they’ll not officially “launch” until long after it’s become a joke. and thus they will continue regularly selling concept ships every couple months.

they also talked about years ago there going to be new year model versions of existing ships with some kind of new aspect to them wether “specs” wise or different paint jobs or w/e.

and ofc they’ve already done more than hint at other things they will (and already do if not in proper working nfashion in teh game itself yet or at all) monetize. from skins to hangar flare to ship gear (weapons, engines, ammo).

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primal

well you have to buy ship gear with UEC but they did say all that will be removed from sale on launch with the ships to

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

wat?

selling UEC has literally been the core of their post launch monetization since like 2012.

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primal

no removing that voyager direct store which i suppose doesnt actually matter cus youll be able buy stuff in game. nvm i brain farted whilst tired

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

oh ok i see lol. was like WOT M8@!?> lol

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Armsbend

Obviously CIG has no scruples selling anything and everything. Pay 2 win cash shop to the extreme.

It’s moot though the game probably will never launch.

edit: I take that back Roberts hasn’t sold his dead mother’s artwork or blood yet. I stand corrected.

kofteburger
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kofteburger

We’ve been over this. CR already said there will be official gold selling. Like Gems in Guild Wars 2. As well as there will be dlc for Squadron 42.

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primal

well its not so much dlc but squadron 42 1, 2, 3. theres sq42, 2nd is behind enemy lines and forget the 3rd. once they may have been additions but now there 3 full fledged games

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