Photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg

The Recipe for Success Behind a 260 Million Dollar Crowdfunding Project

More than 260 million US Dollars have already been raised by 2.5 million fans for “Star Citizen”, an online game that has not even been released yet – a world record. Together with colleagues from the universities of Augsburg and Düsseldorf, who are both Mannheim alumni, the Mannheim researchers Dr. Jan Philipp Ahrens and Baris Istipliler found out how the developers of the game accomplished to create such a huge fan base before the release of the game.

Although the online game has been announced again and again since 2012, it is still not available. Three years ago, the four researchers started to examine this phenomenon. They offered a seminar for Business Administration students at the University of Mannheim called “'Star Citizen': The Art of Going Beyond Crowdfunding in the Video Gaming Business”. In December 2019, they presented the results of their research project at the ICIS, the world’s leading conference on information systems.

According to the researchers, the reason for the unprecedented success of the crowdfunding project is a very well organized and authentic management technique. They say that this strategy allows people to have a continuous exchange about a mutual dream. The fans exchange their thoughts via videos, photos and live streams or at talk shows and organized fan meetings. By now, there are more than 100 million videos centering around “Star Citizen”. Most of them were created by fans. The start-up company mainly employs programmers who are solely responsible for the development of the game.

Ahrens and his colleagues are convinced that this management technique could also be used to realize other dreams and wishes that people have. They say that especially social initiatives, such as climate projects, could be financed in this manner, as such projects are closely connected to many people’s dreams. 

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