If you’ve been following the story of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. spiritual successor Areal on their kickstarter (and around the web) you’ve probably noticed a fair bit of complaints about the project. Criticism has arisen over the past couple of weeks that has many (even some ex S.T.A.L.K.E.R. folks) believing that it is all one giant scam. Lots of allegations and forum banter have been tossed back and forth, but nothing has changed. The Kickstarter is stuck at 33K of their 50K goal and many folks are pulling out from backing it altogether. I had refrained from reporting on the controversy because I thought it to be nothing but baseless rumor-mongering and didn’t want to be jumping on the negativity bandwagon.
Then, with the above video, the Areal development team announced they were adding legitimacy to the project by hiring Alexey Sytyano as their producer, a man who had previously worked on S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Survivarium…
Which sounds good, until some folks went digging.
Apparently, Alexey was *already on* this Areal project as the founder all along, and is the one who, back in March of this year, was asking for 50K amongst the community. Further raising a big red flag would be the fact that to get on Steam Greenlight, which many people think this is all about, one needs 50K of starting money.
In a google-translated quote from a Russian gaming site, it was revealed that the money for the Kickstarter isn’t exactly going towards the game:
The game’s producer explicitly told us that the success of reaching the 50,000 mark is meant entirely to show off in front of investors. Factually, that money is needed only to attract the “real” big cash, because the development of this game of such a game would cost much more than a million dollars.
So let’s say we give him the benefit of the doubt, sure. Perhaps it’s all just a big misunderstanding and people are jumping to conclusions. The problem with this is that the project’s backers have all gotten together and formed a list of questions about the project…and not a single member of the team has even acknowledged the list, let alone answer a single question. Funny that they’d do this when so many backers have pulled their money from the project due to the lack of feedback and acknowledgement.
It also doesn’t help that they locked comments in their videos and have publicly stated they will not answer questions on their Kickstarter, instead telling concerned donors to email them…which so far has not led to a single bit of meaningful correspondence.
Not that I want to be negative here, but things aren’t looking good for Areal. I’d love to see another S.T.A.L.K.E.R. type game, but I’m no longer certain if this project is even legitimate. At this point it isn’t looking too good. A cursory glance at the Kickstarter comments and the forums of other ex-S.T.A.L.K.E.R. developer websites will give you plenty of links that back up what was just said.
We’ll keep you posted as the drama heats up.