There are many online debates on whether or not Star Citizen is a scam. This article uses data from Similarweb.com and Google Trends to show that Star Citizen is a legitimate contender to some of the world's most popular MMO games. Additionally, it goes further in providing a more accurate picture of where the game fits in with other games in terms of popularity and engagement.
Update: Star Citizen being a scam is perhaps the most popular myth about the game. Read the article on Star Citizen Myths.
Which Games Will Be Used For Comparison?
Star Citizen will be compared to Elite Dangerous, World of Warcraft and Runescape for the speculation in this article. SimilarWeb data from the main websites is used for each.
Elite Dangerous was chosen because it is one of the closest existing games for what Star Citizen aims to achieve at launch.
World of Warcraft brought MMORPG gaming to the masses. Star Citizen is planned to be an MMO Universe so while the games share very little in common they both appeal to the general MMO market.
Runescape, originally released in 2001, is the most popular MMORPG on the planet and has been for years. If MMO games were rated on popularity, this would be the #1 MMO game.
A scam website would have very poor engagement.
Some great metrics for how engaging a website is are Time on Site, Bounce Rate and Pages per Visit and it is no surprise that Similarweb displays them.
Total Visits: The total number of visits detected by Similarweb to the website.
Avg. Visit Duration: How long each visit stays on the website.
Pages per Visit: How many pages did each visitor look at during the average session. Generally higher is better. A low Pages per Visit number shows lack of interest in the content.
Bounce Rate: The percentage of people who leave without seeing any other pages other than the one they landed on. The lower the Bounce Rate the better.
Disclaimer: This data does not indicate which game is more popular or bigger / better. It only shows website engagement - how much interest do users have with interacting with the site. It also does not include many users who may use privacy blockers or opt out of data collection and therefore is a subset of real figures. It is provided for comparison speculative purposes only.
As can be seen by the data here, robertsspaceindustries.com has the highest engagement values. The Average Visit Duration is 7 minutes while the other 3 websites are within 2 and a half and 4 minutes. The bounce rate is the lowest and the pages per visit is 7. This means that, on average, a visitor to the RSI website clicks through 7 pages of content.
Total Traffic shows that SimilarWeb is tracking over 9 million visits per month to the RSI website. This shows that many people are very interested or taking part of a large community.
Google Trends is another handy tool at looking at how relatively busy a search term is online. Another reason Runescape was included in this analysis is because the name is very unique meaning the keyword volumes on Google Trends would be more accurate than more generic words. This gives the data a stronger measuring stick for relative accuracy.
As can be seen by the Google Trends data, the search interest for Star Citizen continues to grow but still remains small compared to Elite Dangerous, World of Warcraft and Runescape.
At the time of writing Fornite is perhaps the most popular game. While not an MMO, it is a multiplayer online game and since the name is also unique we can use it to see where the MMOs listed in this article fall in terms of the bigger picture.
As can be seen (or not seen) by this data, Fornite players dwarf all the MMOs mentioned in this article combined in terms of search interest and website visit volumes. The engagement levels are similar to WoW, Elite Dangerous and Runescape.
Marketing & Engagement
It is important to also note that since RSI is currently using organic marketing the engagement figures will be higher than the competitors who could be using paid marketing strategies. Once CIG start spending money on marketing for Squadron 42 (and eventually Star Citizen) the website engagement figures will drop as untargeted (less targeted) visits begin to grow as a percentage of total visits. Eventually (after release) the engagement figures will drop and get closer to the other sites referenced.
Star Citizen, while still very niche in the online gaming world, has many users heavily engaged with the RSI website. Star Citizen also shows healthy levels of interest in terms of online searches.
MMOs are long term online universes and Star Citizen seems to be at the start of the growth phase based on the data (not opinion).
It appears clear based on the data from Google Trends and SimilarWeb that Star Citizen:
- Continues to grow along with the game's progress
- Is still at the start of its growth phase (early period according to the long term charts)
- Is still a tiny share of the online games market - even in the MMO category
- Has an engaging website and / or users consume a lot of content on it
There are many detractors of games for many different reasons. In terms of forming your own opinion, this article looks at website engagement and brand popularity to measure where the game currently sits. Additionally, the data used in this article is from objective sources (Google Trends and SimilarWeb) that cover all the related websites without bias.
Is Star Citizen A Scam?
Clearly not according to data and the engagement of the community. Additionally, the data suggests that the project is still in an early stage of popularity and hype. This is not surprising given the game has not launched yet.