The Daily Grind: Have you ever regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO?

Too soon? No.

Look, if you want to call me a doomsayer or a pessimist or whatever when it comes to Kickstarter and MMOs, you have every reason to do so. I’ve been saying unflattering things about it since back in 2012, at least. But when you back a Kickstarter, the explicit assumption is that what you are backing is an idea. It’s not an actual thing yet. Hopefully it will become an actual thing, but it is not one at the time you back it. And that means that some of the projects you fund will take your money and then never turn into actual games.

All part of the experience. But have you ever actually regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO?

In my case, I do genuinely regret a game I helped fund on Kickstarter, although it wasn’t an MMO (Mighty No. 9 had a different set of enormous problems). But sometimes I wonder if people might not just be looking at games like TUG or Embers of Caerus; I can understand someone who funded Shroud of the Avatar or Crowfall and now feels like the game is developing in a very different direction, one that makes the previous funding a source of regret. So what about you? Have you ever regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO, either because it didn’t happen or for other reasons?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Arcanum Zero

Pathfinder Online. I thought it was a terrible idea, and I knew it was going to fail, so I only backed it after it had already funded, to get the pack-in guest-author adventure book. Then all the interesting guest authors pulled out and it turned out I’d totally wasted my $40 or whatever.

I’m clearly super broken up about this. Honestly, I’m pretty sanguine about Kickstarters. Backers are guaranteed nothing, and this is well documented. Much like the stock market, you should only play with what you can afford to lose.

Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor

Shroud of the Avatar is on top of my regret list, but there are many others. The only significant MMO that I don’t regret funding at this point is Camelot Unchained. The rest I either shouldn’t have backed at all, or backed at much too high a level. There was a period of time where I was throwing large chunks of cash at almost every MMO that popped up, not knowing which one(s) would succeed but figuring at least one of them would stick. I have learned my lesson now and, when I do decide to back a game, it is at the minimum tier.

Jonny Sage

Yes, Vengeance online and Repopulation. Total deception by the devs.

Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor

Speaking about anything & everything I’ve backed, not just MMOs: I’ve had a few Kickstarters I backed not go all the way, and I’ve had a few that were amazingly successful. I don’t regret any of them, even the ‘failures’. I’m sad that the hopes and dreams weren’t successful, so I might regret that they weren’t, but I don’t regret trying.

Most of the time I don’t put in very much, so it wouldn’t be a painful loss. It IS a gamble, after all, and you should never, ever, EVER gamble with more than you can afford to lose.

I’m also still incredibly happy that crowdfunding took off like it did. For far too long it felt like I was screaming my game hopes and wishes into the wind and getting nowhere. Then, suddenly, games were being put on hopeful display, allowing me to put my money where my mouth was and say YES. THIS. I WANT THIS. HERE’S MY MONEY, PLEASE TRY AND MAKE THIS. After feeling like I was in a gaming drought for years, I now have access to games a plenty, because thanks to crowdfunding it’s been proven that there are players interested and willing to pay. HOORAY for that.

Mick the Barbarian

I don’t generally do regret. Even the abject failures like TUG and Landfall. They just make me more wary.

There is one exceptions though … SotA. I loved all the Ultima all the way back to Akalabeth. U7 was my favourite game of all time. So I bought into hype of what this game could be. Sadly we got something that barely qualifies as a game and seems to a vehicle to milk the fans with more and more real-money transactions. Oh … how the mighty has fallen. Richard Garriot went from hero to scam artist. Such disappointment.


There’s been a couple of plucky, genuine indie games I’ve backed on Kickstarter that never happened. Real, guy-in-his-bedroom stuff. They’re disappointing to some degree, but easy come easy go as the investment was only ever $10 or $20.

Stuff like Camelot Unchained and Crowfall have represented larger investments, and with development not always going to plan, and dragging on and on, they’re disappointing, but in a different sort of way, as they’re still progressing to something I want.

What takes the cake, however, is Shroud of the Avatar. Promised as one thing… made as another. Terrible project management. Still limping along today – over 500 days beyond persistence, “But we’re not launched, no sir!” Absolutely bizarre.

What worries me most about the project, aside from it being full of free Unity assets and playing like crap, is that they’ve had $12.5 million plus raised and over four years to work on it… yet it’s not clear where that money & time has gone?!?

(And don’t get me started on the all-too-regular, livestream beg-a-thons that continue to rake in money, as the remaining fanbase continues to throw good money after bad, rather than sending a clearer message with their wallets. Oh well…)

Since Travian Games came onboard, there’s been surveys, job adverts (including, tellingly, one for an Agile Project Manager/Agile Coach… something the game should have had, ahem, four years ago), and that bodes well, although one wonders if the horse has bolted.

ie: Shroud has already gone down so many paths, it’s dubious is can be yanked back to any great degree and, simultaneous to that, the game now has such an extraordinarily poor reputation in MMO circles, would any yanking back be of value, anyway?

So… yes… the above captures about 2% of what I could say about Shroud of the Avatar, so without a shadow of doubt in my mind, it’s the game I most regret Kickstarting. It’s left me wishing for a game that the Shroud team has no ability to actually make.

TotalCowage .

Obvious candidate for what alienated me, but I want to use it as a jumping off point for why I’ll never kickstart again; there really are no protections from Kickstarter itself against companies abusing the process. They honestly only seem to care about taking their cut of the funding and then saying “nothing more to do with us, guv.”

You see, during the original Kickstarter, Shroud of the Avatar looked like this; the commentary about re-designing the game comes from the fact it’s FAQ specifically stated it wouldn’t be an MMO. It would be a plot driven game with optional co-op. The original coverage showed only the single player Ultimas, and even the accompanying launch video only mentioned Ultima Online, but didn’t visually show it.

We now know Portalarium had planned right from the start to just say anything to “get out of a pickle” because Portalarium itself was nearly bankrupt from its failed Mobile games; and they planned all along to convert it into macro-transactions driven, Real Money Trading based MMO along the same Freemium lines. But that’s not the issue with Kickstarter; they allow “Project Drift” as part of the process. You could turn a drone into a remote controlled car if you claimed making it fly was just too hard…

No, the problem is that the contracts signed specifically states that Rewards are NOT optional. You have to try and honor them, no matter what;

When a project is successfully funded, the creator must complete the project and fulfill each reward. Once a creator has done so, they’ve satisfied their obligation to their backers.

(Bolding in original).

Here’s where Portalarium have been especially shifty; In the list of backer rewards are future “Episodes” for the game. In theory, you would get Episodes 2-5 for free later at certain tiers.

When it became apparent (except to the increasingly cult like believers) that the game could really afford to even to truly finish Episode 1 (major systems will be missing even at “Launch” in 68 days) they announced that Episode 2 would require the first episode to launch and be successful, a wait of 12 months, and then a second kickstarter.

Not only was it obviously getting ready to cut and run, but it would be fund raising a second time to complete the rewards of the first kickstarter that was supposed to have already paid for them; a blatant violation of the rules. When I wrote to Kickstarter asking how this could possibly be acceptable, all I got back was this generic response;

” Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out about this and I’m sorry to hear about this situation. We encourage creators to research all costs involved in completing their project prior to launching. Sometimes, however, the scope of a project can change, resulting in unexpected fees for the creator. We know that this isn’t an ideal situation for backers or creators, but hope that everyone involved can work together to understand and overcome these obstacles when they come about.”

Yes, everyone should work together… just don’t expect Kickstarter to do anything about it.

And that is why I’ll never trust the actual process itself again. How hard would it be to enforce your own rules? Too hard for Kickstarter it seems. You can’t even get them to hold firm on something that genuinely is supposed to be a direct purchase, the backer rewards.

As always, outright greed has strangled the goose that should have been laying golden eggs…


That was an interesting read, thanks. When I met them at Pax a few years ago it felt shady. They wouldn’t answer my questions, would only give their scripted responses (which was weird and awkward – so does your game do A – well let me tell you about B!) and their free invite to alpha/beta or whatever it was was not honoured.

Never looked at them again after that.

I grew up playing Ultimas on my Apple IIc. It’s over now and has been for years, it’s time to just let it go guys.

Loyal Patron

TUG was the only game I ever Kickstarted. Ten of your dollars or fourteen of mine. I like to think that it paid for a valuable lesson in the perils of misplaced optimism and faith. A bit of a bargain if you think of it like that. Others have paid far more for the same.

Rolan Storm

Not exactly regret… But closest to it is Greed Monger. A scam it is. I am not regretting my $25, but I funded a scammer. Ain’t right.

I, as many here did, participated in Mandate and Repopulation kickstarters. With Mandate it is simple – I forgot about it. :D Compeltely. With Repopulation… For some reason feel bad. They do something, might even make a game. :) I even tried it recently. Switching between roleplaying and shooting modes are actyually fun. I know no game that does anything like that. So it’s fine.

Guess I never funded any kickstarter games with a sum I could not afford to loose. Two games I spent over a hundred on were The Black Watchmen (they delivered – oh, yesss) and Star Citizen (sold my ship with 20% loss).

Also can we say about being happy as a drunk hyppo kickstarter funding? Doesn’t matter, I’ll tell about it anyway. That would be Divinity Original Sin 2. *nod*nod*


Star Citizen. I regret every time… :(