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Kickstarter suspends GTA Online imitator RAW and cancels pledges

July 15, 2019 RAW was suspended because the developers “would need to raise additional funds outside of Kickstarter to complete the game.”

Earlier today, the Kickstarter for RAW – a ‘sandbox game’ title built in the style of GTA Online – was suspended, as backers received an email from Kickstarter saying that pledges will be cancelled. The project had already met its funding goal, but faced plenty of criticism as fans, critics, and streamers suggested that it was far too ambitious to come to life on its modest budget – and it seems Kickstarter itself feels the same way.

“Our rules and guidelines ask that creators seek to raise the amount of money needed to bring a project to completion and fulfill all rewards,” a Kickstarter representative tells us. “This creator stated in an update that they would need to raise additional funds outside of Kickstarter to complete the game. We require projects to be honest and clearly presented, and this project failed to meet that standard.”

This is likely in reference to an FAQ from the developers, where they say “Yes, our game can not be made for 70K, but nobody said that this money is all that we have. We have other sources of funding too.”

In a message on the game’s official Discord, the developers say there were “no warnings” ahead of the Kickstarter’s suspension. They received a message similar to the one backers did, in which Kickstarter simply runs down the reasons a campaign might be suspended. The developers say “we are very disappointed, but not broken,” and will continue to seek funding elsewhere. “IndieGoGo can become one of those solutions. The second solution is to make it trough our website.”

Kickstarter pledges are typically only charged once a fully-funded project’s campaign ends, so backers will face no charges for the cancelled pledges. We’ve reached out to the developers for comment, but have not received a reply.

Games backed through Kickstarter have certainly sought additional funds for development in the past, whether through the ongoing backer campaigns that often follow Kickstarters, or titles like Shenmue 3 getting money from publishing partners. The difference here appears to be that the developers stated the Kickstarter wouldn’t provide enough money while the campaign was still ongoing.

The last Kickstarter update was made on July 12, as the developers announced plans for a gameplay demonstration video based on community requests for raw, unedited footage. They say they’ve been working on the game full-time for two-and-a-half years, while emphasising how few days they’ve taken off in that period.

“Overall we’ve spent on our game development approximately €10,000 at this moment, and we are not trying to say that it is a huge amount of money, but it’s a big amount of money when you don’t have an actual income for 2.5 years. We understand that this all sounds like excuses, but we are trying to be honest with you.”

In a stream last month, Michael ‘Shroud’ Grzesiek ran down many criticisms of RAW. He said “I would not trust this game at all”, adding that it’s “the kind of game that would be the best game in the world” and “there’s a reason why it doesn’t exist – because it’s not possible. This can’t be possible yet. We can’t do it. So don’t fall for it”. He suggested that “maybe it’ll be done in 30 years. Maybe, I don’t know.” Similar concerns Reddit, where users have raised concerns about the project’s legitimacy. There have also been suggestions that RAW is just “too ambitious” for an indie studio.

RAW’s Kickstarter front page says the game is a “hardcore MMORPG with unique approach to social structure and high attention to gameplay details”. It’s made by “a small team of developers”. The game seems reminiscent of GTA RP efforts, but with added layers of complexity. Developer Killerwhale Games’ official site says RAW will feature a “vast open world”, as well as building, “advanced government”, real estate, business, profession, and contract systems – plus land, water, and air transport and “reliable” tested multiplayer.

The Kickstarter page says that “most systems” are already finished, but it looks like the devs might have a way to go yet in getting the game to players. In their FAQs section, they say that the Kickstarter funds will primarily go towards hiring more programmers and 3D modelers, but that they also still need to get an office, purchase hardware, software, a motion capture system “in the future”, plus pay taxes, which should be around “30-40% of raised funds.”

The devs added in an FAQ update that “a lot of gaming websites and people critic[ise] you and say it’s impossible,” saying “of course from the very beginning the game will come out a little raw, all the games come out like this. We will constantly continue to refine, develop and update our game and after you bought the game the updates will be free for you.” On the overview page the devs also say “our game is essentially a platform, which will be polished a long time after release.”

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