You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Star Citizen’ Developer Valuation Nearly Half Billion Following $46 Million Private Investment

Crowdfunded developer Cloud Imperium Games is raising $46 million from a private investment that now values the company behind the massive, in-development title “Star Citizen” at $496 million, the company tells Variety.

The investment comes from father and son Clive and Keith Calder and will be used, according to the company, to create a “marketing war chest” for the 2020 release of the game’s campaign mode entitled Squadron 42.

Development on that long-awaited campaign, according to a development roadmap made public Wednesday, is slated to finish in the spring of 2020, with a summer 2020 release.

Founder Chris Roberts says the new deal will help the company maintain its independence and ensure that all the crowdfunding money raised and being raised through the sale of subscriptions and virtual goods, will continue to be focused on game development.

The deal came about, Roberts wrote in an open letter to the community, as the company started investigating ways to raise funds for the marketing of Squadron 42.

“During this process, we were introduced to Clive Calder, and his son Keith, who have both been interested in the confluence of entertainment with the ability to directly connect with an audience online,” Roberts wrote. “Clive founded the most successful independent music company, Zomba, which was home to some of the biggest music acts in the world. Keith is an independent film producer; whose company Snoot Entertainment’s most recent films are the critically acclaimed ‘Blindspotting’ and the Academy Award-nominated ‘Anomalisa.’  During our first meeting we got on like a house on fire, with Clive telling me about how he wished that when he built Zomba, you could have connected to the fans of an artist bypassing the myriad of media gatekeepers in the way ‘Star Citizen’ does, and which wasn’t possible 15 years ago. Keith and I swapped war stories about the film industry and talked about how refreshing it is to be able to utilize crowdfunding to create a project that normally would fly against what is currently considered mainstream.”

The budding relationship turned into a financial deal which gives the two Calders about 10 percent share of Cloud Imperium in exchange for $46 million. As part of that process, the company is also taking on two outside board members. Dan Offner, who is Clive and Keith Calder’s nominee, and Eli Klein, who has long served as an advisor to the company.

The control of the company and the board still firmly stays with myself,” Roberts wrote. “ We wouldn’t have taken anyone on board if we didn’t feel that they were fully aligned with our vision, philosophy and could add valuable insight in navigating the business challenges ahead.”

One of the reasons Roberts decided to look to an outside investor, he told Variety during an interview earlier this week, was because he wasn’t happy with the alternatives. While he says development on the game progresses nicely, he believes that once the single-player campaign is finished the company will need to spend significant money on marketing. He doesn’t want to spend crowd-raised money on that and he doesn’t want to go back to those who supported the game throughout the process to ask for more money to essentially market the game to other people.

That left the option of selling the company, going public, or working with an outside publisher. But he said, he wanted to maintain control of the project as the company continues to look toward the future.

“My goal is that we’re in this for the very long haul,” he said. “We’re trying to build this universe that you just escape to and we want to be around in 10 or 15 years like ‘World of Warcraft.’ So how do we make the game as big and cool as possible, but also secure the company?”

The move is likely to rile some Kickstarter backers of Cloud Imperium, so the company also Thursday, released a snapshot of its spending dating back to the start of crowdfunding for the game in 2012. Those figures, which run through 2017, show that the company spent $193.3 million from 2012 to 2017, with about a quarter of that spent in 2017. A bulk of that spending is on the company’s staff which ballooned from about 50 at launch to 464 last year, to “over 500” in 2018.

The money pays for development, but also includes a reserve, that Roberts refers to as padding.

“We’ve also kept padding and it has always gone up and down,” he said. “In 2015, when we shot a lot of performance capture, we spent a bit more, it was almost like doing a film shoot. That burned a bit more of it. But we’ve always kept a pad. I think because we are crowdfunded, we’re almost like early access people still don’t trust it.”

“With the investment this allows us to also have a bigger pad.”

Roberts said the investment is strictly for marketing of the game, not an attempt to keep the company afloat. He said that Cloud Imperium Games had its biggest month to date last month, bringing in more than $10 million and noted that all operating companies need to have a steady stream of income from customers to stay afloat. He added that the company makes internal projects of income and is within 2% to 5% every year. “So we’ve turned into a very predictable business at the moment.”

“It’s like saying what happens if Take-Two doesn’t bring any money in tomorrow,” he said. “We’re behaving very much like a live product now. We’ve shifted to a quarterly release model. Because we are consistently delivering content every quarter, new ships, new items, new weapons, new things to do, there has been much greater engagement.”

That’s also because the content is bringing with it more things to do, Roberts said.

“Now there is a reason to go do things, to earn money, to buy ships,” he said. “There is a proper game look happening, and more and more features are coming online. It’s feeling like an actual game instead of parts of one.”

While the decision to release the company’s UK and U.S. financials on Thursday was driven in part by news of the new investment, Roberts said that the company has been releasing financials for the UK side of the business since the company opened offices there, a requirement under UK law.

“Every time we released financials in the UK we had this debate about sharing everything,” he said. “We’re open on the development side, and we made this pledge that the money would go toward development, so maybe we should just show it. We just decided now is the time to do that and it doesn’t hurt that we’re including news of an investment that will support marketing.”

Roberts said he believes most of the “Star Citizen” fans and backers will understand the decision to seek outside investment.

“I think people will get it, I’m hoping backers will say, ‘OK, this is cool.’” “We’re doing development as promised, and now we’ve sorted out the next stage: Getting it out to the wider public.”

More Gaming

  • ASUS Announces Refreshed Versions Of ROG

    ASUS Refreshed ROG Gaming Laptops Include Tablet-Like 'Mothership'

    ASUS announced refreshed versions of the pieces in its ROG Gaming laptop lineup, with a “top-to-bottom” update of the entire collection. The collection combines all-new models with “refreshed” systems to offer balance needed by gamers, content creators, and other users with traditional laptop form factors and high performance. There are faster displays, better cooling, NVIDIA [...]

  • Nvidia Turing Family of GPUs Starts

    Nvidia's Latest is a $149, 75 Watt Geforce GTX 1650

    Nvidia launched its latest (and best priced) in its Turing family of graphics processing units with the Geforce GTX 1650 released Tuesday, according to the official Nvidia blog. The GeForce GTX 1650 allows players to get acquainted with the Turing series of GPUs at a friendlier price point than was previously available, priced at $149. [...]

  • Latest Update Makes 'Sekiro' Easier

    Latest Update Makes 'Sekiro' Easier

    The latest update for “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” makes the game easier, along with providing bug and stability fixes, FromSoftware revealed via the official Japanese website for the game. The update, which rolled out Monday in the US, makes several “improvements to strategic approaches,” including adjusted effectiveness of various tools, like the Lazulite Sacred Flame [...]

  • Why Video Game Industry Pushes Cloud-Based

    Why Video Game Industry Pushes Cloud-Based Gaming

    Playing video games used to be simple. You bought, borrowed, or rented a cartridge, gave it a good blow to “get the dust out”, and popped it in your system. The advent of connected consoles, growth of digital distribution, and departure from physical media have muddied the waters. You can play games in more ways [...]

  • Snoop Dogg

    Snoop Dogg Streaming 'Mortal Kombat 11' Tournament Right Now

    Snoop Dogg is streaming a “Mortal Kombat 11” tournament right now, starting at 4 p.m. PDT on Twitch NOW and Mixer, facing off against 21 Savage, and other guests. The American rapper is streaming the event under the title “Snoop Dogg’s Gangsta Gaming League,” just a day ahead of the world release of “Mortal Kombat [...]

  • AT&T & Turner Invite 'Captain Planet'

    AT&T & Turner Invite 'Captain Planet' Mobile Game Players To Restore Trees

    AT&T and Turner invite Planeteers to download “Captain Planet: Gaia Guardians” to help save the environment. In celebration of Earth Day 2019, the companies are joining together to help Captain Planet restore the trees on the in-game Hope Island as part of the “Hope Island Recovery Challenge.” For every tree restored in-game between Earth Day [...]

  • China to Introduce New Game Approval

    China Introduces New Game Approval Process This Month

    China’s newly formed State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) is introducing new regulations for video games this month, according to Niko Partners. The online video games market is an important part of China’s technology industry, according to Feng Shixin, the deputy director of the Publishing Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department. It brings in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content