Kickstarter to take no action on Ashes of Creation’s campaign following referral program confusion

    
107
wood

Last weekend, we ran an article covering PC Gamer’s detailed investigation into Ashes of Creation’s pledge system. At the time, PC Gamer’s Steven Messner wrote that Kickstarter had told the author that AoC’s revenue and profit sharing systems ran afoul of Kickstarter’s rules and that consequently, Kickstarter had asked AoC’s Intrepid Studios to remove Kickstarter pledges from its referral program, which Kickstarter said Intrepid had done.

Ashes of Creation’s Steven Sharif disputed that, saying that while Kickstarter asked the studio to change the language of its referral program, Intrepid had not actually changed the program itself, meaning Kickstarter pledges were still included in the referral program, which Intrepid says it believe remains in compliance with Kickstarter’s rules.

In heated forum comments about the situation, Sharif also accused PC Gamer’s writer of issuing an “outright lie” and of having an “agenda” and “combative” demeanor. “We know that he wanted to ride the hype wave with the project with clickbait titles and an article that he riddles with reddit links? Really? lol,” he told the game’s official Discord channel.

PC Gamer’s Steven Messner told me that the article was correct according to his conversations with Kickstarter as published, and now we know a little bit more as PC Gamer has revised its original article with a follow-up segment from Kickstarter that sheds quite a bit of light on the confusion, so you can put your pitchforks and torches away.

“As the original story states, a Kickstarter spokesperson told us that this was against their rules and that Kickstarter had informed Intrepid Studios, [which] had complied by removing Kickstarter pledges from the referral program,” PC Gamer writes. But apparently Kickstarter was unaware that Intrepid hadn’t actually done it. Here’s what Kickstarter Director of Communications David Gallagher has now told PC Gamer:

“The information I gave you is accurate, except, as I recently learned, the part where I said that this creator had excluded Kickstarter pledges from their referral program. [Intrepid Studios] told us that Kickstarter pledges would be removed from the program, making it entirely separate from the Kickstarter project, which we saw as an acceptable solution. It appears that this did not happen. [Intrepid Studios] said this week that based on [its] communication with us, [it] believed it was fine to continue to include pledges. That was not correct.”

Kickstarter won’t be taking any action against Intrepid Studios for failing to adhere to Kickstarter’s rules during the campaign, however. Here’s Gallagher again:

“Given the potential for misinterpretation, the creator’s removal of the reference to pledge referrals on [his or her] own site, and the fact that the Kickstarter project page did not mention the referral program, our Integrity Team has decided not to take any action against this project. We’ll be revisiting the way we communicate our rules around referral programs to make sure our policies are clear to creators going forward.”

Ashes successfully funded on Kickstarter yesterday, grossing $3.2M with nearly 20,000 backers.

Source: PC Gamer. Cheers, Harley.
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Armsman

Kickstarter personnel have never really given two s*its about it’s TOS once the KS is successful and Kickstarter has it’s cut of the money raised. Been that way from day one. There are PLENTY of projects that have violated the KS TOS – but again, oncew funded; and KS has their cur, no harm no foul as they see it.

Reader
Hravik

I just don’t see this as a huge scandal some are making it out to be.

What I get out of it is that there was some miscommunication between Kickstarter and AoC, PC Gamer posted an article that Sharif thought was wrong based on that miscommunication, decided to be a dick about it, then KS couldn’t see past the bag of money.

I mean yeah, Sharif needs a PR person, but no huge, earth shattering scandal.

Reader
Kevin McCaughey

Complete storm in a teacup. The thing to take away from this is it is a successful campaign, raising $3.2M from 20k backers.

Reader
primal

of course they wont do anything, there licking there lips at that 5% cut!

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Bullwraith

Clearly the angst over the Axanar debacle has dissipated and the universe needed a new unwinnable controversy to fill the vacuum. AoC and Mr. Sharif are “blessed” to have been in the right place at the right time.

See Bree, more proof that we do not need forums. The comments sections provide all the entertainment we need!

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

Steven Sharif rubs me wrong, a certain amount of unprofessional bombastic attitude. He comes off like another mmo creator that we watched within the last couple years. That studio that was based out of Colorado that’s slipping my mind. Anyhow in the end Sharif was why I didn’t back Ashes of Creation.

decimuss
Reader
decimuss

They definitely should hire a PR representative for these kinds of scenarios, but atleast he is talking to the community, which is more than what can be said of most big studios out there (*cough* Zenimax *cough*).

In the end, there’s nothing worse than a studio that does not communicate or listen to its playerbase and I really hope this whole debacle doesn’t shut them up entirely.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

Great points, a PR person would be the best route for them to go and I strongly agree that communication is important. I’m not a fan of mmo developers that don’t communicate but in this case he hurts the company since he isn’t really up for handling it. Honestly it’s a distraction he doesn’t need.

Reader
Duey Bear

I would rather have a communicative but abrasive CEO than a silent CEO. That said, I don’t speak for the market, and I have a higher tolerance of alpha personalities than most. My closest friend growing up was and is a machismo alpha male nerd, not unlike Sharif.
So yeah, I’m a bit of a sucker for sympathizing with boss types.

Reader
Jeremy Barnes

I don’t believe AoC is a scam, but it has no wildstar and no ma’s sky disease written all over it

Reader
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
agemyth 😩

PC Gamer did their damn jobs.

Kickstarter miscommunicated and accidentally allowed Intrepid Studios to break some rules.

Steven Shariff made as ass of himself trying to discredit PC Gamer’s reporting.

Good work PC Gamer. (and MOP)

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

I should have scrolled down I could have just liked your post, well posted Agemyth. :)

Reader
Rumm

Much ado about nothing.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Avaera

I think the most interesting thing about this whole saga is how clearly it shows the MMO genre, like so many other areas of life these days, is becoming dominated by personality politics and celebrity tribalism.

I don’t have a problem with the referral program as I understand it, nor do I have a problem with a journalist expressing a negative opinion about a game project.

Seems pretty sad to me that there is more to this story than a rather dull conflict over Kickstarter policy minutiae, but I guess that’s “gamer” culture these days.

Reader
Solaris

The Comments section of this site because tin foil hatville for every MMO that comes out now. It’s getting extremely tiring.

That said, both Kickstarter and Intrepid share blame here. Intrepid’s referral program was in full swing long before going live on Kickstarter. Kickstarter should have some kind of vetting program prior to allowing a project to use their service. A 10 minute survey of the AoC site would have revealed the referral program and at that point Kickstarter could have refused to allow the project to go live.

Intrepid would have been more screwed if they killed the referral program, that obviously has been extremely popular (albeit controversial).

Did Sharif handle this well? No. I can see why the guy is at his wits end though. The Reddit conspiracy B.S. was torching the project with internet detective idiocy from day one. Personal attacks on Sharif and his team. Basically a trove of unfounded insinuations and wanting to lynch the guy for being an MLM success at a job he took when he was very young. I mean seriously WTF? What a bunch of stone casters.

Personally, I don’t see any issues with the referral program. I don’t get the hate. I think it’s bizarre. Referral program was obviously great viral marketing that served a business purpose. But that’s gamers for you nowadays. Nothing is ever good enough. Me, I’ll take some new ideas and dynamics in my MMOs if someone will bring it to the table. I’m so sick of the staleness the genre has settled into.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

There is nothing wrong with a referral program, furthermore. I believe the owner was peeved that his business model was inferred to be a scam. That is the real lie. Referral techniques are used in most forms of business. Hey, his program is much more generous than one month of sub for having a friend join WoW.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Ashfyn Ninegold

When people shower scorn on Derek Smart, you expect that. He’s a known quantity with a vibrant history. When people gossip about Brevik or Johanson or the like, again, they have track records, are active in the industry and have made both friends and enemies in MMO land.

But the wild conspiracies, character assassination and near slander that have been thrown in Steve Sharif’s way beggar belief. Blogs and threads calling him a liar, fraud, cheat and con man have multiplied the more successful Ashes’ KS became to a point that is frankly irrational.

I’m reminded of Mr. Darcy’s rebuttal to Miss Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice after she excoriates him when he proposes to her. “And this, then, is your opinion of me?” She turns out to be only a little right and more wrong in her opinion of him.

Reader
Dro Gul

I would also point out that the wild conspiracies, character assassination and near libel that have been thrown in the PCGamer author’s way by Steve and his minions similarly beggar belief.

(note difference between slander and libel)

Reader
Utakata

This does remind of how Smart tried to bring down Chris Roberts ‘n company via a yellow journalist gaming publication that one time. o.O

Reader
Utakata

Edit: This is not to suggest or imply this is what is going on here…rather this is giving me flashbacks to said incident. :(

Reader
Brother Maynard

I wonder how many of them are professionals hired for this. Troll factories are a well known fact and it doesn’t take too much out of a gaming giant’s marketing money to hire a handful of them.

Divide et impera: as a result, people will naturally split into camps, start bickering, suspicions rise or simply turn their attention elsewhere, presumably to more stable enterprises (such as large, well established publishers and their products) – the good old fight or flight reflex triggers.

It’s a time proven successful business tactic – why fight when you can win the war before it even starts? It’s certainly much cheaper to contain a threat before it has a chance to materialise.

Reader
Dro Gul

The only people that we know are definitely getting paid are the white knights out trying to drive up their referral numbers and get their 15% cut of everything they drive to the site.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Lights and Music

When people shower scorn on Derek Smart, you expect that. He’s a known quantity with a vibrant history.

I guess I’m confused by this comment. Isn’t this the guy that made his money in pyramid schemes? Doesn’t he have a “vibrant history” as well? (please, don’t attempt to say MLM isn’t a pyramid scheme or my head will explode)

I couldn’t care less about the referral program, I mostly care that a dude with a shady ( not illegal, just shady) business past is the primary investor for a crowdfunded game which, before it even finishes it’s Kickstarter, manages to fudge the rules a bit.

Seems to me like Steve Sharif has a tendency to skirt the bounds of the rules, which makes me an intrepid and unwilling investor in his company’s product.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

lol! Tinfoil hat because we’re noting something and we talk about it? Well I guess that’s one way to push for not discussing our hobby. Btw if Sharif is at his wits end this early into the process, he isn’t the right person for the job.