Cloud Imperium Financials for 2022


In keeping with previous years and our inclusive and open policy of informing our community of how we are spending the hard-earned money they commit to the games and universe we are building; I update our accounting for the 2022 year. For consistency it is in the same format as prior years and follows the same simple cost accounting rules, without prescribed formats, disclosures and other treatments required for our financial statements. So as usual, no revenue recognition adjustments, intellectual property amortization, software capitalization or other accounting alterations that would depart from the more simple and understandable cost entries that this update aims to deliver.

The Accounting published here remains simple and understandable, showing “income,” net of sales taxes, as invoiced or accrued, and costs as incurred. We add to this capital expenditure as “spent.”

As usual, we aim to give more relevant details regarding how the income and costs are classified compared to what we would be required to do in published financial statements. The basis of this analysis remains the management accounts numbers that underpin the financial statements we provide to our auditors, upon which they perform their work for the annual audit.


The 2022 accounting shows that Cloud Imperium grew again with total income up 30% on last year’s record-breaking annual performance. The regular and improving game deliveries with increased playability and stability was a key part to our success in 2022, but unlike 2021 the performance was more consistent throughout the year. Also, departing from prior years leading up to 2022, the US growth in income was higher than that of the Rest of the World. It is difficult to draw direct conclusions for this shift but the instablity caused by the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the generally slower rebound of the European economy in 2022, compared to the US, seems likely to be a factor.

Costs, including capex, also increased by 29%, although excluding capex, principally focused upon the new Rest of World offices, trading costs rose moderately (compared to income) by 18% in 2022. Nearly all cost categories were up on the previous year but overheads, external game development, and publishing operations, including customer servicing costs, were the main drivers for this increase in costs. Salaries and related costs for game development and support remained the highest spend category accounting for almost half of the total operational spend in 2022, and almost 60% when factoring in the growth in external game development costs, managed mainly through the US.




2022 continued the trend of record-breaking growth with revenue up 32% to $114M. This was fueled by a growth in player numbers and increased player time arising from regular content delivery early in the year and improved game stability throughout the full year. Subscriptions were up 6% to $5.3M and other income increased 21% to $11.4M, driven in part by the growth in UK development and the associated credits arising thereof.

To recap: the top three lines describe our revenue sources:

Pledges / Sales (from Counter)

This line is taken directly from our daily published Funding Stats Counter, showing the net receipts from our backers and customers. The vast majority of revenues are of starter pack pledges granting access to the Star Citizen alpha game, as well as spaceships and digital items immediately delivered and playable in the game. A significantly smaller fraction of revenues came from pledges for concept ships, which all come with an included “loaner” ship for immediate use and playability within Star Citizen alpha. Due to exchange differences and small items that are not included in the counter, such as shipping costs charged on physical goods, the counter does not completely represent all revenue received. Other than subscriptions (referred below) these differences are included in the final income line, to give an accurate representation of total revenue received.


The subscriptions line is the value of our subscriptions using standard exchange rates. Again, any differences due to exchange rate movements have been accounted for in the final income line.

Other Income

The other income line represents partnership income with various hardware and software vendors, sponsorship income, and various local incentives based upon the nature and location of our development and production activities. It also includes any exchange differences as referred to above.

Trading Costs


Trading costs are broken down by territory and year into five broad categories.


With much still to do, Cloud Imperium pushed forward with its objectives and the commensurate growth in its cost base accordingly. Costs increased by 18% over 2021 to $116.5M and capital expenditure, primarily for the flagship offices in Manchester, England, and the new facilities in Frankfurt, Germany, rose to $12.9M, compared to only $2.0M in 2021. The breakdown of the expenditure is commented upon in more detail below.

The US operations grew slightly in 2022, although like the previous year there was a continued shift in the mix of personnel as publishing, community, and marketing teams grew whilst internal development contracted in the US, although with a rise in management of more external development resource, mainly from our associated entity Turbulent, which is based in Montreal.

Rest of World operations grew considerably with headcount up 18% on 2021 and additional space taken on to facilitate future growth.

All cost areas except General and Admin (G&A) increased in 2022 although the growth in Publishing Operations was not as significant as in the previous year, which had set the groundwork for the projected growth in customer numbers and playtime, which trended upward toward the end of 2021 and continued on an even greater trajectory upward into 2022.

Salaries and Related On-costs

Salaries and related on-costs represent the total employee cost within the Group, excluding service-oriented Publishing, Community and Marketing personnel – whose salaries and related costs are included within that cost line.

This shows that salary costs increased in both territories: 6% up in the Rest of World and 16% up in the US. Development and G&A headcount increased in the Rest of the World by 18%, although a lot of that was at entry-level positions in G&A and Quality Assurance, required as Star Citizen progresses with added features, content, playability, and players. Also, performance-related bonuses in 2022 were not as high as in 2021 and thus the increase in Rest of World salaries did not match the increase in people, despite generous pay awards designed to help cope with the rising inflationary pressures felt throughout the economy.

In contrast, the US salary costs increased by 16% despite a reduction in development headcount and a moderate increase in G&A headcount, but additions were at the opposite end of the staff seniority spectrum with highly experienced personnel in each discipline being added to the group, and regarding development with senior experienced people often replacing the more junior roles that were vacated. Also, cost and wage inflation levels were high in both US office locations, which we aimed to keep pace with.

Other Game Development Costs (Overheads

Other game development costs represent the costs of operating the various studios and including such expenses as office rental and maintenance, travel and accommodation, IT, and other costs not included elsewhere. In 2022, this cost category increased by 57% to $18.4M. Some of this can be attributed to the end-of-pandemic lockdown restrictions, which increased office occupancy and stimulated inter-office and work-related travel. However much of the increase was, as described in last year’s update, due to the cost of substantially upgrading and increasing the office spaces taken in Manchester and Frankfurt, with the footprint in each location doubling the previous office sizes to facilitate the current and future planned expansion in those locations.

Contracted Game Development Costs

These represent the costs of contracted services supporting game development work. For 2022 this increased by 24% to $10.8M. External services used by the Rest of the World reduced for the third year running to $1.3M, down 48% on 2021, as more work continued to be taken internally. However, the US continued in the opposite direction with a 54% increase in external development costs principally through the growth in services provided by our associated Canadian entity, Turbulent, which expanded its development resource considerably in 2022 in response to our growing requirements. External development managed through the US increased by $3.3M to $9.5M but this was more cost effective than growing our internal development teams in the high-cost locations housing our US offices.

Publishing Operations, Community, Events, and Marketing

These costs are associated with running the game, deploying online services, and providing customer support. It also includes the costs of running our platform, publishing, data hosting, and server costs. It includes revenue collection, customer liaison costs, and the costs of our marketing and community events. This cost line correlates closely with income and user engagement, and the growth experienced in 2021 continued into 2022, rising 18% to $29.9M.

The bulk of publishing and marketing operations run through the US (Austin and Los Angeles respectively), which accounted for 71% of spend in this cost category. Those departments grew again in 2022 with the US adding 28 people (29%) to its headcount and the Rest of the World also adding ten people (21%). This represents the increased costs and demands associated with operating what is effectively a live game, albeit an early access one that is not yet out of its alpha phase. But nevertheless, it is vital to support our growing community and customer base and ensure the engagement of our players in the rich environment we have created. Thus, we continue to spend money on our servers, platform, and community tools to make the Star Citizen experience as comprehensive, safe, and enjoyable as possible.

General and Admin

These costs represent insurance, accountancy, and other professional and legal fees not apportioned directly into the cost areas identified previously. Other factors outside of headcount and operational growth can impact these costs and in 2022 they reduced slightly to $1.4M.

Capex and Investments


This represents capital expenditure in areas such as hardware and software, fixtures, fittings, and on offices. Whilst it trends with staff numbers, it is also impacted by hardware renewals, server upgrades, and other security and infrastructure purchases.

It is included in this accounting as it represents an outlay for the materials required to develop and publish the games. Since the total capital expenditure amount is included here, we do not list the depreciation portion of such expenditure subsequently in the cost analysis.

Capex spending in 2022 was $12.9M, in part due to the headcount increase and the office and computer equipment required for those new staff members, but mainly as a consequence of the new offices in the Rest of World locations, where we have built fantastic ‘destination’ places to encourage in-office work and participation. Our projects are extremely complex and time-consuming to build and support, and it is important that we provide the best environment for our people to enjoy the hours of work being undertaken.

Headcount Analysis



The headcount analysis represents the people working at the end of the year under the broad disciplines identified. (Note: It is not average people numbers for the year).

Employee numbers increased by 112 (15%) to 860 worldwide by the end of 2022. The US headcount increased by 16 with a continuing rise in publishing, marketing, and community staff (+28) surpassing the reduction in development headcount (-15) as the US focused on certain development activities and managing more external development through Turbulent in Montreal. The Rest of the World headcount grew by 96 (18%) mainly in development with a focus upon Quality Assurance. Ten publishing, marketing, and community roles were also added and unsurprisingly the G&A support staff numbers increased commensurately in 2022. By the end of the year the Rest of the World represented 73% of the Global headcount (up from 70% last year) although the US now also managed over 150 dedicated people working with our internal development, publishing, and marketing teams through Turbulent.



In keeping with prior years, the 2022 Accounting shows the Group continued to spend its income on the ongoing development and publishing of the games in its unrelenting objective to deliver a world-class gaming and social experience for its players and community. Besides reinvesting into its people and partners – particularly Turbulent in Canada, whose teams servicing Cloud Imperium grew considerably during the year - it also put substantial funds into its new offices and facilities to create a destination space for its post-Covid returning staff, creating an environment to encourage collaboration, innovation, and creativity to make all the hard work undertaken and still to come more pleasant for the growing number of people working on the games.

Consequently, the funds on the balance sheet moved little in 2022 despite a very successful year, and they remain earmarked for the future activities planned and required to push the games forward to the commercial launch and the ongoing evolution of the underlying technology and Intellectual Property being developed.

At the time of writing, I am pleased to report that in 2023 we have made great strides in that respect and despite the significant cost of dedicating more resource to Squadron 42, at the expense of ongoing regular releases on Star Citizen, particularly in the first three quarters of 2023, we have progressed Squadron 42 to a level of feature complete, which is a very significant step on our roadmap to final release for this hugely ambitious AAA game. At our first physical CitizenCon in several years at the Los Angeles Convention Centre we unveiled the progress made ‘behind closed doors’ and we were happy to show how this will translate into the Star Citizen Universe and the ongoing releases that are planned over the coming months and years.

In 2023 we were also very pleased to have completed the acquisition of Turbulent that we announced in July. As noted in this and previous reports, Turbulent has become an important part of our operations and we have been working with them since the early days of the company’s founding. They understand us and our goals and thus it was natural that we would formalize that relationship and bring their key people into our leadership team. It is great to harness the skills and talents of the 200+ people working there who augment our internal teams and represent a large part of our worldwide workforce, which now exceeds 1,100.

In conclusion, 2023 has not been an inexpensive year but we have a had a great – record-breaking again – end to the year and the targeted investments we have made have been focused upon our goals, setting us closer to achieving our vision and mission to deliver a gaming experience and universe of truly epic scale, fidelity, and quality for all our current and future players and community.

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