Exposé tracks how one dude fudged a whole company and swindled 25 devs over an MMO

    
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MMO players aren’t the only people who get scammed by games that sound too good to be true. Kotaku has a piece up this week about a company named Drakore Studios, which apparently was never a properly going concern. The publication interviews multiple “employees” to paint a clear picture of a part con-man, part wishful-thinker who hired two dozen remote employees to work on a game he didn’t even have the rights to, with money from investors he didn’t have.

That game, Zeal, is an MMOARPG we’ve covered previously, and just to be clear, its actual dev studio, Lycanic, is not tainted by the drama, nor is its other MMO, AetherBound; the owners of the game were clearly victims too, as they were promised that the con-man-wishful-thinker would be buying out their company.

Drakore Studios, however, was never even a registered company and it certainly won’t be doing any buying-out paying any of the people it hired, as a skeptical employee who got the scoop from an investor eventually put together that they were all being deceived and locked down the “company” accounts to tell everyone the bad news. And nope, none of them is getting paid. The whole thing seems to have been for nothing.

Zeal, for its part, ended its pre-alpha in May, with plans to incorporate feedback before coming back online, so at least it emerged relatively unscathed from the mess.

Source: Kotaku. Thanks, Phill!
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Mewmew
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Mewmew

That’s like the recently canceled (by Kickstarter) game RAW. The “company” behind it wasn’t a real registered company. There was only one actual name anywhere that wasn’t just a first name for someone supposedly involved with them. The address just led to a residential complex where when people tried to contact the person living there he refused to talk to anybody.

Luckily Kickstarter canceled this fraudster’s campaign before he got to take much money from people, though he is still out there saying he’ll move to other crowdfunding avenues to get his game made (again, so many red flags, I really hope people have enough information on what is going on with this guy and his “company” not to invest in his project this time).

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socontrariwise

I might be slow here but … what did the scammer get out of it? And is police now involved?
That article needs a bit more meat to its bones.

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cursedseishi

I mean… It’s rather blatantly obvious what he was trying to get out of it.

Mahal had convinced an indie developer to agree to give him operational control of a title (or titles, as it could be) that they were currently developing. Which also means any cash said games might have earned would go to him. Likewise, pushing to try and find ‘investors’ to funnel money into his studio could just as simply be him trying to make a quick hefty chunk.

He likely assumed he could bullcrap his way through any early questions, get the game out on storefronts and take over financially from there before ‘dissolving’ the studio–much like what was said at the beginning of the article.

The thing is, he didn’t really get anything. That was also the point of the article. People were quick to distrust ‘Mahal’, and investors did what investors typically do–they check references. Mahal had a Linkedin profile that no longer exists, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he faked his references for it and that ‘Rana Mahal’ might just be a fake name. Just like how Amazon Games, Leidlaw, and the others all said they have no clue who this guy is that is saying he knows them all so well. End of the day, he wasted his time wasting 25 other people’s time because he managed to fake some credentials just enough to get people largely inexperienced or connected in the industry to agree… Or nab those who did have experience, by using a game that was already a known (if minor) commodity.

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Danny Smith

Finally we get the truth about Star Citiz- wait what?

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Rhime

Hahahaha…..No.

Harry Koala
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Harry Koala

I’m sure there’s an obvious Daybreak Games joke to make here.

Tizmah
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Tizmah

Don’t work for free people.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

They didn’t. There were given contracts and all of them were expecting payment at the end of the month. It’s just there was no money and the company was a scam. Now some of them do work for free with the same developers but without that scammer and knowingly this time.

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3dom

That’s rather easy to do: there are tons of junior developers who’d gladly pay (let alone work for a theoretical possibility to get paid) to get actual commercial experience in their resume – because nobody want them and getting their first job is an exhaustive task requiring upwards to 20-40 interviews in some cases.

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Siphaed

How is it easy to do? How hard is it for “junior developers” to look up a company. It literally takes a few hours out of your day before even applying for a company to look into it’s backgrounds such as registration and so on. The fact that the game wasn’t even registered means that had they looked into it, it certainly wouldn’t have been ‘resume material’.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

The game was. That’s the thing – the game WAS real. As well as their creators’ company. Which was scammed by that asshole with a forged contract. The whole scam wouldn’t exist if there weren’t any actual registered game.

laelgon
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laelgon

Yup, junior game developers tend to be desperate as hell. There’s an opening on my team for a software developer, and I’ve seen a ton of resumes from people with game development degrees that have no relevant work experience even though they graduated a year or two ago. We don’t make games, but do use a game engine for some of our software. I always recommend people who want to get into game development to just get a normal CS or Software Engineering degree. From what I’ve seen, it’s way easier to get a game job with a CS degree than a non-game job with a game degree.