I guess I could see a one time contribution, but it is the selling of ships toI won't speak for everyone, but here's my take. I'm a big proponent of voting with your money. The way most "gamers" these days buy up rehashed ideas year after year, they're voting that mediocre content is okay. This game publishers would never make. They know it's risky and don't want to risk their money. That's fine. Avenues like Kickstarter, Early Access, crowdfunding in general allow customers to make decisions normally left to publishers. "What game looks worth it to me?" Worth it to a publisher is what makes a lot of money. Worth it to a customer is (to me) something new and never done before. People put money into projects like this because publishers won't and they see something they like. It's a risk, but only as large a one as you feel like contributing. Don't want to contribute? I totally understand, and I don't think you should in that case. If it comes to retail, you get another game to buy that hopefully stands out to you and delivers something you enjoy. If it doesn't make it out, you lost nothing.
In my case, my record on crowdfunding games (including early access on Steam) has been largely positive and I enjoy the process of watching it evolve. There are a couple games (both on Steam) that the devs appear to have slapped a "1.0" on the cover and left it unfinished just to keep Steam off their backs. I consider them losses, but the successes have far outweighed them (Kerbal Space Program, Don't Starve, Elite: Dangerous, Everspace). In this case, I already have enough time and enjoyment in what has been produced by this team to be worth the price of admission.
That sounds worse than those f2p and ptw mobile games, or any game that I can recall. The problem I have with that kind of funding model is that you are constantly paying to play the game. I know I am on the older side, but I will not do iap's in full price games. I did some mobile ftp games(like Dead Trigger 2) a few years ago, but I limited myself to about $10. Bought some in game money to advance some weapons etc. That was ok, but now from what I see it is never ending if you want to play and make any advancement. The hundreds and thousands of dollars people pay these games blows my mind. I guess they enjoy it. Just a different mindset than me.Okay, but for $140 million sure we can get a bit more than that.
That's a fair outlook. One can treat crowd funding games as a hobby like any other. Some people have a spare fifty, some a spare grand or eighteen. It's not my cup of tea, but as long as people invest what they are willing to lose, and understand the stakes, I see nothing wrong with it. The constant promises that the game is right around the corner bothers me though. It may be necessary, but it isn't honest.
There is nothing that says that has to be THE final control scheme. Most people seem to want joystick control, and people have been complaining that it is mouse-based. I think they are probably looking at console ports, since that's where the real money is. (Well, that and marketing, apparently.) I can see mappable controls supporting very complicated controllers, with some people purchasing or building heavily armored ships with auto lock weapons while others go for highly maneuverable fighters for dogfighting.
Honestly, the only viable model I see for a quality game of this scope is MMO, like WOW in space. Gamers pay one hefty lump sum to get the basic game, then pay a recurring fee to support the servers and fund further development. A few times a year, expansion packs come out with new systems. Funding would be a challenge combination of fundraising & presales, initial game sales, monthly charges, expansion packs, and in-game purchases to get better ships. Maybe start with an in-system only mining ship, salvage ship, courier, or freighter so you are limited to one system. Maybe even start limited to one planet - I can see a shuttle-based tutorial, leading into a system navigation tutorial, leading into a stellar ship tutorial. New players could also sign on as crew, but frankly with a brand new game (no established clans) I don't see that working well except perhaps on a mission by mission basis. Too hard to coordinate schedules. Might work as a form of co-op though. The "whales" would be able to skip that phase, not only because they already have stellar ships but also because through the alpha and beta they know the mechanics inside and out.
Frankly my best guess is that this flops harder than Michael Moore on the high dive. But I can see why the promise has raised so much money. It really isn't just another game.