Community interaction and open development is allowing CIG to build a more relevant title, Roberts says. "We had all of these things like bounty hunter, mercenary, pirate, merchant, explorer. And I was shocked that 67 percent of the people [Cloud Imperium surveyed] said that they wanted to be an explorer," Roberts said. CIG wouldn't have known how many players prefer non-combat gameplay under the old design-your-game-in-a-vacuum model.
Roberts also talks at length about the benefits of developing publisher-free. For one thing, Roberts says, developing SC at EA or Activision would require $40 to $50 million, whereas doing it at a more efficient indie outfit allows him to get the same functionality for half that cost. "I do feel like there's a shift in the business with what's happening right now, with the ability to be online and connect directly to the community and the fans," Roberts says. "We essentially don't need any publishing functions because we're connecting directly to people, and normally that's what a publisher would do for you."