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Elite: Dangerous release date announced

Docks in time for Christmas.

Frontier's space game Elite: Dangerous launches on PC on 16th December 2014.

Elite: Dangerous, which has been in various states of alpha and beta throughout the year, is available digitally from EliteDangerous.com for £35.

"No game is ever truly finished in the minds of those making it," Frontier boss David Braben told Eurogamer.

"When you are close to a project for a long time, you tend to see the things that have annoyed you; those things you know could be improved upon; those things you are afraid might not work well for people that are not 100 per cent au fait with the game. For me this makes a public alpha and beta process quite difficult, but it also helps focus on the bigger picture. I think the best definition is that something is launch-ready when it is a great game.

Pull up!

"There are two types of things that can happen at this stage," he continued. "The first is endless 'feature-creep' - new features are added which in turn cause problems that have to be fixed. The second is polishing what is there. The latter reaches a point where there are diminishing returns, but the challenge is always to be able to judge when that will be long in advance. At Frontier we have been doing this for a long time, so we are confident the date we have announced is a sensible one."

Elite: Dangerous was successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in January 2013. There it raised £1.5m off of 25,000 backers.

But that was just a fraction of the original budget. The original budget, Braben told Eurogamer, was £8m, because the studio had pumped much of its own money into development. And the budget has grown since then.

Throughout, Frontier has avoided having to sign with a publisher - to the game's benefit, Braben insisted.

"Back in December 2013, immediately after we had released Alpha 1.00, we were looking at Oculus Rift, and there was a buzz internally about possibly supporting it, both internally and amongst our backers on the Frontier Forums," Braben said.

"If we were with a publisher, there would be very many layers of decision making to go through, including making a detailed business case for supporting it - which was, at the time, virtually non-existent, given that the Rift was only available as a piece of development kit, and you had to register as a developer to get one - and essentially it would most likely have been kicked into the proverbial long grass, until after release at least.

"As our own publisher, we understood from our own experience that the Rift had been bought by many people who loved our game, so we decided to take a punt. I think this was vindicated, when we released an update for the Alpha that included early Rift support, and by the end of the Christmas period, nearly 10 per cent of our backers had played the game with Oculus Rift."