The massively multiplayer sci-fi combat and exploration game is the brainchild of Chris Roberts, who pioneered the space sim genre with Wing Commander and Freelancer before decamping to Hollywood to work as a producer on films like Lord of War and The Punisher.
Star Citizen marks his return to games, and even though it’s still deep in development, players can already purchase the fighters, freighters, bombers, and capital ships that they’ll eventually be able to use to traverse its persistent universe… once that persistent universe is finished. (At present, it’s only possible to pilot some of the smaller spaceships in a dogfighting mode.)
The commercials are the closest thing Star Citizen has to a conventional advertising campaign. But they’re part of the reason that the game has become the biggest crowdfunding project in history, raising over $75 million since it launched in October of 2012.
Roberts’ development studio Cloud Imperium hires top sci-fi conceptual artists to design the virtual spaceships. “People like Ryan Church who worked on Star Wars and the rebooted Star Trek films, and George Hull, who did stuff for the Matrix movies and the new Star Wars,” he says.
“The commercials are a way to highlight the the love and attention we put into the ships in a fun in-fiction way,” Roberts says. Each video is presented as if it was an actual spaceship commercial from the 30th century, produced by one of more than 10 spaceship manufacturers that exist in the fiction of the game world. The commercials are realistic in every detail, down to having “©MMCMXLV” appear onscreen. (How terrible to imagine that the current copyright regime is unchanged in the year 2945.)
Roberts says that the purpose of the ads is not just to convince people to pre-purchase ships. They also give people a compelling glimpse of what they’ll be able to do in the finalized version of the game. All this, while also lampooning the conventions of car commercials.
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