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Elite: Dangerous' original budget was £8m

"It's grown by quite a lot," says David Braben.

Sandbox spaceship game Elite: Dangerous may have only - only! - raised £1.58m ($2.5m) on Kickstarter, but that was just a fraction of the original budget.

"The original budget, because we put a lot of our money towards it, was £8m," David Braben - the man in charge - told me at Gamescom. And, he added, "it's grown by quite a lot".

"We're a public company so we can't put out figures without first putting them to the City, but let's just say we're very, very happy."

It may not be the $50m (£30m) that Star Citizen - that other crowd-funded space game - has managed to raise, but Braben's studio Frontier Developments has been turning out games reliably for a decade, and turning a profit.

Chris Roberts' Cloud Imperium Games, on the other hand, was founded in 2012 to make Star Citizen. Will it be as efficient - will it matter?

Elite: Dangerous continues to make money as people buy beta access at £50 a pop. This also buys you the full game.

In mid-August when we spoke, more than 75,000 people were playing the Elite: Dangerous beta, providing "more and more money that moves ever closer to the game breaking even in a really good way".

"Oh we already have enough [money] to see it through," Braben added, almost chastising me for suggesting such a thing. "It all means it just de-risks it in a really good way."

(Kickstarter backers who pledged enough money for beta access will be included in that 75,000 figure, but not everyone pledged big, and only 25,681 people in total backed the project there.)

The "very disciplined" and "logical" development of the game, according to Braben, has meant it can feel a bit empty at the moment.

"I liken it to building a house," he remarked. "We built the foundations, we built the walls, we plastered it, we put the roof on. We're now putting the furniture in, but it's an empty house."

Elite: Dangerous' roadmap to release "hasn't changed" and it's "on track" for end-of-2014. "By the end of this year we will have the finished game," he declared. "It will be released."

That's the PC version. Will there be a console version?

"Obviously it's something we've thought about," he answered. "We're a game developer who's done a lot of console games and we just announced another one here at Gamescom [Screamride]. The point is, we're a big company, and our tools and technology are very mature. We did Zoo Tycoon [Xbox One, Xbox 360] last year and it's the same technology we're using for this. It would be silly for us not to consider console.

"But the important thing is I don't want it to disrupt development of Elite. We are doing the best game we can on PC and then we will look at console."

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About the Author

Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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