We write about Kickstarter funded games a lot here on Niche Gamer, they tend to be sources of inspiration and fresh ideas in an industry still mostly dominated by big publishers who keep pushing old ideas and safe, boring franchises. However, there’s something of a risk to Kickstarter funded games, and its something that we haven’t really gotten into on the site, that is until now.
We decided to tackle this recent debacle with Winterkewl Games and their Kickstarter funded game, Yogventures, an open world game that both creators of the Yogscast gave their blessing to. Despite being funded way back in May of 2012 and receiving over half a million dollars ($576,665 to be exact), they’ve apparently spent all of their money on hookers and they have nothing to show for it.
All jokes aside, they really don’t have any money left, Winterkewl Games are bankrupt, and due to Kickstarter’s ambiguous policies with the enforcement of successful campaigns and what they owe their backers, they’ve literally told their backers in an email that backers of Yogventures will receive no refund, as the team at Yogscast and Winterkewl Games have “no obligation” to do so.
To be clear, the Youtube game channel Yogscast had nothing to do with the game that Winterkewl Games had been working on – they’re just doing the clean up because their own reputation is on the line. At this point, it seems like Yogscast are essentially disowning the game itself, and instead are trying to “make this right.”
Despite the physical rewards being “impossible” to deliver to certain backer tiers, Yogscast are apparently looking into “cool things to take their place.” Lewis Brindley, one of the co-founders of Yogscast, had this to say on the game itself being cancelled and the Kickstarter being abandoned:
“As you may have heard, Winterkewl Games have stopped work on Yogventures — but this is actually a good thing. The project was proving too ambitious and difficult for them to complete with their six-man team. While this was Winterkewl’s project, we put a lot of time, energy and effort into trying to help them realize their dream. Since we heard the news, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make sure that you still get awesome stuff and cool experiences.”
He continued, pointing out the aforementioned stance that Yogscast are in no way obligated to make things right, but they are trying to give the backers some compensation:
“Although we’re under no obligation to do anything, instead we’re going to do our best to make this right, and make you really glad you backed the project.”
That compensation is a completely different game, open world survival game TUG, which is currently in open development by Nerd Kingdom. It looks cool, but it’s definitely not what the backers of this Kickstarter wanted, you know? Apparently, that’s not what Brindley thought:
“In many ways TUG is the game we were hoping Winterkewl would create. It has huge potential for the future. We’ve been playing the Early Access version on Steam and you’ll soon be able to see us playing the game on Yogscast channels.”
Lastly, things have gotten really interesting as yet even more information has trickled out of this entire debacle. Due to the loose and exploitative clauses in their contracts post-Kickstarter, it seems that $35,000 dollars of the game’s original funding total went towards one artist who just stopped doing his work after two weeks.
The news came from Kris Vale of Winterkewl Games, who said that the artist in question had accepted a $35,000 dollar contract, and two weeks into it accepted a full time job at LucasArts – who refused to let him moonlight for the Kickstarter funded game. Due to the equally ambiguous clauses in their contract, they had no way of getting him to finish his work, or pay them back:
“Because we had worked out a contract that guaranteed each of the principal artists a $35,000 lump sum payment, and we didn’t make any clear clause on how and why someone could legally stop working on the project, the artist in question got paid, worked for about 2 weeks and then stopped working on the project. We had no way to force that person to pay back any of the funds and it was a bitter lesson to learn.”
After this new mistake, one of the Yogscast founders “lost faith right away in my (Vale’s) ability to run the company from a business standpoint.” This prompted Yogscast to demand the remaining money, a sum of $150,000 dollars, which they were supposed to use for the physical rewards promised to the backers, and finally hire a lead programmer to lead the development.
Naturally, this never happened, and the game was met with lots of issues, mostly due to poor management and lack of skilled staff members. My question is where all of that money went – now that Winterkewl Games is bankrupt and Yogscast are keeping the entire thing at arm’s length.
What do you guys think? Is this a reminder of the dangers to throwing money at inexperienced game developers on Kickstarter?