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Starbound Logo.png
Director(s)Finn Brice
  • Rosie Ball
  • Harriet Jones
Designer(s)Stephen Alexander
  • Ashton Raze
  • Damon Reece
Composer(s)Curtis Schweitzer
Platform(s)Windows, OS X, Linux
Release22 July 2016
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Starbound is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Chucklefish. Starbound takes place in a two-dimensional, procedurally generated universe which the player is able to explore in order to obtain new weapons, armor, and items, and to visit towns and villages inhabited by various intelligent lifeforms. Starbound was released out of early access in July 2016 for Windows, OS X, and Linux, and for Windows via Xbox Game Pass in December 2020.


Starbound begins with the player inside a spacecraft after the destruction of Earth, home of an intergalactic peacekeeping organization known as the Terrene Protectorate, while just having graduated from its ranks. With nothing to guide it, the shuttle shoots into space without direction, becoming lost in a sea of stars. The space shuttle orbits a habitable planet and an adventure begins that takes the player hurtling across the universe. Starbound contains both quests and story driven missions, buried inside its vast sandbox universe.[1] The space shuttle acts as the player's vehicle while exploring the galaxy, containing a teleport pad the player can use to teleport down to the planets the shuttle is visiting, a ship locker for storing items, a fuel panel for refueling the ship and a cockpit for piloting the ship. The interior of the ship is also fully customizable, with items and blocks able to be freely placed within the ship.


A player character navigates a dimly-lit cave.
A player character and two non-playable characters rest inside a timber house.
Exploration and settlement gameplay in Starbound. Players can navigate, explore and mine procedurally-generated terrain (left) to gather resources and create settlements, including constructing houses and leasing rooms to NPC tenants and villagers (right).

Many gameplay elements and features, such as items, enemies, and planets, use procedural generation in order to provide a variety of content.[2] The game features story-based missions, quests, free world exploration, enemies to fight, and the ability to interact with and terraform the environment. Player class is defined by items that the player is wearing.[3]

The player also has the ability to farm and sell crops, build buildings, and charge rent to tenant NPCs who can live in those buildings.


Starbound was announced by Chucklefish director Finn Brice in February 2012,[4] with a tiered, Kickstarter-style, pre-order opening via the Humble Store on 13 April 2013. Tier options included a copy of the game, an invite to the beta, and a download of the game's soundtrack, as well as game-related "rewards", such as naming an in-game non-player character, designing a hat or weapon, and having a statue of oneself designed to be placed in the game.[5] Within 24 hours of the pre-order opening, over 10,000 people backed the game, contributing over $230,000 to fund the game's development.[6]

By May 2013, the Starbound pre-order had reached all three of its stretch goals by raising over $1,000,000.[7] The game entered an early access beta on Steam on 4 December 2013, receiving over $2,000,000 in pre-orders prior to its launch.[8] Starbound is written in C++ and uses a custom game engine.[9] The soundtrack was composed by American composer Curtis Schweitzer.[10] The game was officially released out of early access on 22 July 2016.[11] The game will also be ported for the Xbox One at a later time.[12][13][14]

Volunteer exploitation controversy[edit]

In 2019, Chucklefish were accused of exploiting around a dozen voluntary contributors during Starbound's development, sometimes logging hundreds of hours with no compensation and completing the same tasks as paid members of the team. Many of them were teenagers at the time and stated that they felt their inexperience was exploited by the company's director, Finn Brice. The allegations were supported by former members of the team, including notable game developer Toby Fox.[15] In a statement, Chucklefish said that contributors were under no obligation to create content or put in any particular number of hours, but did not deny the veracity of the claims.[16][17]


Starbound received favourable reviews upon its release, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. IGN praised Starbound's crafting, exploration, and combat mechanics, comparing it to Terraria.[19] Christopher Livingston of PC Gamer stated that Starbound was a charming space sandbox that would keep players entertained for hours.[20] Nathan Grayson of Kotaku praised its exploration elements, calling the universe "strange and unpredictable" enough that players would never quite grow tired of it.[22]

By December 2016, Starbound had sold over 2.5 million copies.[23]


Award Result
Indie Game Magazine's Most Anticipated Game of 2013 Won[24][25]
No. 1 Indie of the Year 2013 Won[26]


  1. ^ "About | Starbound". Chucklefish Studios. Archived from the original on 30 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Twitter / Tiyuri: "So, Fridays will be "tweet ..."". 13 July 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  3. ^ Nathan Meunier (24 May 2012). "Preview: Starbound". Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  4. ^ Priestman, Chris (17 February 2012). "Tiyuri Unveils His Upcoming Game 'Starbound'". Indie Game Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  5. ^ Rossignol, Jim (13 April 2013). "Starbound Pre-Orders Prove Somewhat Popular". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  6. ^ Sykes, Tom (13 April 2013). "Starbound pre-orders bring in over $230,000, game seems 'bound' for success - News - PC Gamer". PC Gamer. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Starbound Pre-Order". Archived from the original on 10 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  8. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (4 December 2013). "Starbound beta lands on PC, Mac and Linux today". EuroGamer. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  9. ^ "FAQ - Starbound". Chucklefish. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  10. ^ Reilly, Michael (16 June 2012). "Music in Starbound". Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Starbound is Leaving Orbit on 22 July". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  12. ^ Raze, Ashton (20 August 2013). "Starbound: Extraterrestrial Sandbox Adventure Coming to PS4". Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  13. ^ McWhertor, Michael (20 August 2013). "Fez, Starbound and Velocity 2X coming to PS Vita". Polygon. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  14. ^ Morris, Tatiana (4 August 2015). "ARK: Survival Evolved, Starbound and more headed to Xbox One, Windows 10". GameZone. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  15. ^ Nesterenko, Oleg (2 September 2019). "Starbound developers accuse Chucklefish of labor exploitation". Game World Observer.
  16. ^ Chalk, Andy (31 August 2019). "Chucklefish responds to allegations it exploited volunteer Starbound developers". PC Gamer. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  17. ^ Campbell, Colin (2 September 2019). "Young developers on Starbound say Chucklefish exploited their free work". Polygon. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  18. ^ Tack, Daniel. "Starbound". Game Informer. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  19. ^ a b Plagge, Kallie (24 March 2016). "Starbound Review". IGN. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  20. ^ a b Livingston, Christopher (27 July 2016). "Starbound Review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  21. ^ "Starbound for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  22. ^ Grayson, Nathan (4 August 2016). "Starbound: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  23. ^ Wawro, Alex (23 January 2017). "Chucklefish's Starbound surpasses 2.5 million copies sold". Gamasutra. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  24. ^ Gnade, Mike (2013). "The Best Indie Games of 2012 Chosen by You in Issue 30". The Indie Game Magazine (30): 14. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  25. ^ Mike, Gnade (4 February 2013). "IGM Readers Choice: The Best Indie Games of the Year 2012". Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  26. ^ "Indie of The Year 2013 feature". Indie DB. 27 December 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2015.

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