Kickstarter game gets shelved after almost 2 years; developer doesn't know what to do about backers | PCGamesN

Kickstarter game gets shelved after almost 2 years; developer doesn't know what to do about backers

Kickstarter game gets shelved after almost 2 years

I haven’t backed a single crowd-funded game, although I’ve been close a few times. There’s a pretty simple reason for this: I don’t gamble. My father put a bet on a horse for me during the Grand National when I was nine years old and I lost £1. I’ve bought a lottery ticket exactly one time and, again, I lost £1. I am £2 down and have nothing to show for it. Never again. I'm not including drunken poker games, because you never count stuff you do when you're inebriated, right?

There’s an element of risk inherent in any crowd-funding project, and today backers of Super Action Squad (previously Super Retro Squad) know this very well. Amateur developer Jay Pavlina, whose only experience in game design was creating a flash fan game, is putting development on hold because “it’s too big to handle”. 

“I clearly had no idea how much work all of that was going to be,” Pavlina said in a blog post. “It is obvious in the video that I was excited about the project and was dreaming big, but I was too ignorant to realize that what I was promising would cost way more money than I was asking for and would take a very long time without a more experienced team.” 

Not only was Pavlina in way over his head, his team was very inexperienced and most of them have now left. They lacked necessary skills, the ability to manage their time and in some cases produced almost nothing that could be used in the game. 

After this experience, I am not sure it is even possible to form a strong game development team without being able to pay everyone a liveable wage,” Pavlina said. “I personally feel that having an ineffective team is the most detrimental problem we had, and we spent quite a lot of time trying to make it better, but the ultimate solution ended up being to dismantle it.”

When you fund projects like Pillars of Eternity or Broken Age, you know there are risks, but you also know that the team has years of experience and has produced not only countless games, but high quality ones. But in cases like this, you’re putting your money in the hands of someone you know nothing about. No matter how good the game sounds, it’s not a wise investment if you can’t be sure of certain things, like the skill or the developer. 

Pavlina currently doesn’t know what he’s going to do about his backers. “I do not know exactly what to do for backers of this project. Feel free to give us your suggestions. People that invested a lot of money should contact us to see what we can work out. We are very reasonable people, and we want to help everyone to feel as satisfied as possible, but we are also limited in our capabilities. Please do not expect miracles, but understand that we will make an honest effort to make people happy. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to try to work something out. Please understand that it is impossible for us to offer a significant amount of refunds right now, but we expect that to change in the future.”

Chances are, that money people donated is something they’ll never see again. 

Cheers, Kotaku.

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Ocid avatarFraser Brown avatarMrJinxed avatarEmpyre avatar
Ocid Avatar
4 Years ago

I get that crowd funding is a gamble in itself but this one seems really amateurish.

I don't get how you can launch a kickstarter without designing your game first, knowing the capabilities of or have experience in your chosen engine and expecting people to be motivated when you're paying them very little to live on as well as not even knowing the skills of the people you'll be working with.

Unitys limitations are far above and beyond those of flash and isn't just an engine for new or amateur devs. See the many 2d platformers made with it and numerous other titles KSP, Pillars of Eternity, Satellite Reign etc etc.

MrJinxed Avatar
4 Years ago

I've backed 5 kickstarters so far, and only 1 of them has been released thus far (Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded), and it was delayed a few times, pushing back the release date over half a year...

One of the games looks like it won't be seeing the light of day (Hero-U).

Another one should really have been out by now but due to Steam early access, it just went in full milk mode instead and I have no idea about when they'll release (Wasteland 2)

The fourth game is Torment: Tides of Numenera hasn't updated in a couple of months, so that's.... not so good. And on top of that they're still "stuck" in pre-production a year after the funding ended and they scored 4.2 million.

The last game I've kickstarted is going strong and I'm not worried thus far (Pillars of Eternity).

Then I've backed Star Citizen through their website and bought a handful of early access games on steam to support the developers more than anything.

It is indeed a risk to back these things, and I believe many people mistakenly think they're effectively pre-ordering a game, rather than backing an idea.

You really have to be in the mindset of not seeing a return on that money you spent. But even with that mindset, I must admit I'm feeling a bit let down over how many kickstarters are failures. Even from well respected developers.

They had a perfect chance to change how things worked, so it wouldn't just be all about the "greedy publishers", but it looks more and more like it's a missed opportunity, and they collectively screwed it up.

Fraser Brown Avatar
4 Years ago

Torment won't be going into full production until Wasteland 2 is finished. InXile shifts teams from Wasteland to Torment once they've finished what they are doing. It might mean things take a bit longer, but in all fairness, they said that would be the case even before the KS campaign started.

MrJinxed Avatar
4 Years ago

You're not wrong, but WL2 is heavily delayed and there's no end in sight, and they haven't started any sort of work beyond being in "pre-production" on Torment, and they've stopped answering questions about what's going on from what I can see. Still not having done any actual work 1 year later, doesn't fill me with hope.

Empyre Avatar
4 Years ago

I like the 1st paragraph lol.