For a short while earlier this week, it seemed that a campaign to fund a life-saving operation for Homesick developer Chloe Sagal had ended in high-fives and sighs of relief. Thanks to the efforts of fellow indies like The Indie Stone and Thomas Was Alone’s Mike Bithell, the Indiegogo fund’s coffers were full.
But that was before yesterday, when Indiegogo suspended the campaign due to “suspicious activity” and refunded its contributors, scattering campaigners’ efforts to the winds.
Sagal has suffered from metal poisoning since a near-fatal car crash a few years ago. While her initial prognosis suggested she had years to remove metal fragments in her body, she recently collapsed and was admitted to hospital. There, Sagal was told that she would lose basic functions and die within months without an $29,000 operation.
"I am a strong and independent woman,” she wrote on Indiegogo. “I can handle almost anything myself, but I'm setting this aside, because I do not want to die from this.
“I never wanted to resort to just donations (as opposed to asking for donations from people who've enjoyed my work), but it's clear that this is the best option I have right now."
Prominent figures in the indie community helped to push donation efforts. Project Zomboid’s The Indie Stone and Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell both donated sales of their games over three days, raising $4,030 and $255 respectively.
However, Sagal’s Indiegogo page disappeared shortly after achieving its target. In a statement to Eurogamer, the crowdfunding site explained that “suspicious activity” had been detected.
"Indiegogo has a proprietary and effective fraud algorithm and when suspicious activity is detected the campaign is immediately suspended and all contributors are refunded," said the Indiegogo spokesperson.
Sagal had originally attempted to raise money for her operation by releasing Homesick with a donate button, but her efforts were scuppered when direct links to the game were distributed.
She had asked for a total of $35,000, for both the operation and to support herself in recovery, as no help is forthcoming from her family. She had planned to donate any extra cash raised to charity.
We’ll keep you posted on this heart-rending story as it develops.