Make My MMO: Following Chronicles of Elyria reports, state attorney general addresses crowdfunding scams

    
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Make My MMO: Following Chronicles of Elyria reports, state attorney general addresses crowdfunding scams

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Chronicles of Elyria stirred fresh drama, as Soulbound Studios appeared to backtrack on its announcement that it had folded and work on the game had ceased. Initially, that announcement had caused backers to seek help from the Washington State Attorney General’s office and pursue other avenues for refunds and civil suits. But this week, Soulbound’s Jeromy Walsh claimed he’d been misunderstood – that in fact some staff remain to work on the game and he was seeking alternative funding sources, which some backers interpreted to be an effort to stall legal action against the company.

As reader HolyAvengerOne chronicled, representatives from the Washington State Attorney General’s office held a live Facebook discussion this week that in part discussed scams and consumer protection when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns, which are indeed subject to the Consumer Protection Act. In the video (embedded below) the reps recommend that affected citizens submit formal complaints and say they “stand ready” to prosecute scams again. While there’s no specific mention of Soulbound Studios, the reps refer to a spike in complaints (which as we’ve noted come chiefly in regard to the game) and remind would-be backers of “too-good-to-be-true” projects to be careful when investing in crowdfunding efforts.

Meanwhile, Book of Travels confirmed that it’s still on track schedule-wise in spite of COVID-19, Elite Dangerous began the beta for fleet carriers on PC (with a few snafus), Albion Online went egg-huntin’, the Heartwood Forest Saga is live in AdventureQuest 3D, Crowfall’s War of the Gods phase 2 is on the way, and both Dual Universe and Star Citizen tinkered with lore.

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks, plus our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following!

Chronicles of Elyria

Recent MMO crowdfunding news

Star Citizen

Campaigns and crowdfunded MMOs we’re watching

3001SQ (Société des Mondes Virtuels) – Kickstarter unsuccessful, dev halted in 2018.
AdventureQuest 3D (Artix Entertainment) – Raised 368k; beta began Oct 2016.
Albion Online (Sandbox) – Launched July 2017, hit Steam May 2018.
Antraxx (Team Antraxx) – Kickstarter canceled.
Ascent: The Space Game (Fluffy Kitten Studios) – Successful KS. Fully launched 2016.
Ashes of Creation (Intrepid Studios) – Successful KS. Alpha zero.
Book of Travels (Might and Delight) – Kickstarted successfully.
Broke Protocol (Cylinder) – Unsuccessful KS. In free early access.
Camelot Unchained
(City State) – Kickstarter successful; open donations/packages.
Caribbean Conquest (Invenio) – First KS canceled, second ended unsuccessfully.
Codename Reality (Orode) – Kickstarter unsuccessful.
Contested Space (Zon)
Crowfall (ArtCraft) – Kickstarter win, open packages, Indiegogo crowdfunding ongoing.
Chronicles of Elyria (Soulbound) – Kickstarter. Abandoned March 2020.
City of Heroes Homecoming (Homecoming) – Monthly donation rounds.
City of Titans (Missing Worlds Media) – Successful KS; Issue 0 delayed into 2019.
Day of Dragons (Beawesome) – Kickstarter successful.
Descent Underground (Descendent Studios) – Successful KS.
Destiny’s Sword (2Dogs) – Kickstarter successful June 2019; demo avail now.
Divergence Online (Stained Glass Llama) – Abandoned in early access.
Dogma: Eternal Night
(Prelude Games Factory): Kickstarter. Probably dead.
Dragon of Legends (Thrive Games) – Successful Kickstarter.
Dual Universe (Novaquark) – Kickstarter funded, donor platform. Backer alpha.
Eco (Strange Loop Games) – Funded, now in alpha.
Edengrad (Huckleberry Games) – Kickstarter funded. Abandoned, then not, then again.
Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments) – Funded and fully launched.
Empyrion Online (Eleon) – Kickstarter canceled; launched on Steam early access.
Endless Trials (Fire Hurts) – Kickstarter canceled.
Epic Space (EpicSpace.net)
EverFeud (PSB) – Kickstarter canceled.
Ever, Jane (3 Turn Productions) – Now in open beta.
Fractured (Dynamight) – Kickstarter successful. Alpha 2.
Global Adventures (SubaGames) – Kickstarter funded.
Gloria Victis (Black Eye Games) – Open donations, no end date; in early access.
Greed Monger (Greed Monger) – Abandoned, now allegedly in refund process.
Grim Dawn (Crate Entertainment) – Funded and launched.
Guardians of Ember (Runewaker) – Funded and launched.
Guns of Icarus (Muse) – Funded and launched.
Hero’s Song (Pixelmage) – KS canceled; Indiegogo. Canceled w/ refunds.
Infinity: Battlescape (I-Novae Studios)
HEX (HEX Entertainment) – Funded and launched.
Legends of Aria (Citadel Studios) – Kickstarted as Shards Online. Early access.
Life is Feudal (Bitbox): Indiegogo ended. Currently in beta.
LUX (Chimera) – Kickstarter canceled.
Maestros of the Anthymn (String Theory) – Kickstarter canceled.
Maguss (Maguss) – Indiegogo successful; open beta.
Mekria (Infinity Online Studios) – Kickstarter canceled.
Midair (Archetype Studios) – Kickstarter successful.
Nebula Online (Mizar Games) Kickstarter canceled; launched in November.
Neo’s Land (NeoJac Entertainment) – Open donations, no end date.
Novus AEterno (Taitale Studios)
Oath (Ready-Up) – Kickstarter funded.
Occupy White Walls (Stikipixels) – Kickstarter ends April 21.
OrbusVR (Ad Alternum) – KS funded March 2017. In early access.
Overpower (Hydrant Games) – Kickstarter unfunded; heading to early access.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen (Visionary Realms) – Open donations. Pre-alpha.
Pantropy (Brain Stone GmbH): First Kickstarter canceled, second funded.
Past Fate (Icy North): Kickstarter unsuccessful.
Pathfinder Online (GoblinWorks) – Doom, mostly.
Path of Titans (Alderon) – Indiegogo.
Planet Nomads (Craneballs) – Kickstarted, early access launched sans multiplayer.
Playcraft (Bebop Games) – Kickstarter funded May 2019.
Pixel Starships (SavySoda)
Project Gorgon (Elder Game) – Kickstarted in three tries + Indiegogo. Early access.
Project Oasis World (POW) – Kickstarter unsuccessful.
Pumpkin Online (Monique) – Downgrading from MMORPG.
RAW (Killerwhale) – Kickstarter canceled by Kickstarter.
ROKH (Darewise) – Kickstarter canceled; in  early access but not active dev.
RUiN (Tarhead Studio) – Kickstarter successful.
Sacrament (Ferocity Unbound) – Kickstarter failed; Patreon ongoing.
Saga of Lucimia (Stormhaven) – Indiegogo. Intermittent pre-alphas.
Seed (Klang Games) – Kickstarter launching in 2020.
Shadow’s Kiss (Clockwork Throne) – Ongoing Patreon, Kickstarter funded.
Ship of Heroes (Heroic) – Kickstarter canceled, beta expected before 2020.
Shroud of the Avatar (Portalarium) – Soft launch July 2016. Launch March 2018.
Spycursion (Defun) – Kickstarter unsuccessful.
Squadron 42 (Cloud Imperium) – Beta delayed until at least 2020.
Star Citizen (Cloud Imperium) – Ongoing donations/packages. Backer alpha.
Starfighter Infinity (Ben Olding) – Kickstarter funded. Early access.
Temtem (Crema) – Kickstarter fully funded; now in early access.
The Exiled (Fairytale Distillery) – fka Das Tal; KS unsuccessful. Early access.
The Flower of KnighthoodKickstarter canceled.
The Realm: Reawakened (Stephen Nichols) – Ongoing GoFundMe.
The Repopulation (Idea Fabrik) – Kickstarted twice by A&B. Back in alpha.
The Stomping Land (Alex Fundora) – Abandoned.
Trials of Ascension (Dragonfire) – Latest Kickstarter failed.
TUG (Nerd Kingdom) – Totally abandoned without a word. Now considered a scam.
Vigor Roads (NeuronHaze) – Kickstarter unsuccessful; early access planned for 2017.
War of Rights (Campfire Games) – Successful Kickstarter; in early access.
Zenith (Ramen) – Kickstarter successfully funded.

Crowfall

Yes, some crowdfunded MMOs most definitely do succeed. But others crash and burn, and you need to hear about the whole spectrum of games that sought your money early in exchange for the promise of input and transparency. And that’s exactly what Make My MMO does every Saturday. Help us keep ’em accountable, would ya?

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Toy Clown

Pre-20’s, I believed in our legal system. After I got a job with the city, my eyes were opened to how corrupt and unfair the entire system really was. Even though I left that job after 5 years as it no longer aligned with my value system, my experiences stuck with me. I learned not to lean too much on the ideal that the system will keep the victims and the innocent safe. One thing I did learn: The one with the most money wins.

I’m the type of person that will try out most things at least once, but if I have a bad experience, I won’t do something like that again. I’m also quick to listen to my intuition: If something seems too good to be true, or things aren’t adding up, I back away. That’s the best protection I can give myself.

While some companies get justice brought to them, most can skim by on lawyer-found loopholes in the system and have learned to operate on people’s short-term memories to wave their hands, and claim these aren’t the droids anyone was looking for.

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HolyAvengerOne

While I share your opinion of the judicial and political powers system, in this case, given where I live this is all I can do and hope to, maybe, see something done to bring light to this shitstorm. My hopes aren’t very high, but I still think it’s worth a shot.

Sometimes, the enemy of your enemy can turn out to be an ally ;)

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Arktouros

I hope that the AG does investigate, finds that the company did use the funds in good faith to create a project but it simply failed because it ran out of funding, and people get no compensation as a result.

People wanted to financially invest in the future of games they wanted to see. Well welcome to the wide world of financial investment. Things don’t always work out.

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Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

The issue with that is that gamers are an unsophisticated lot and need protection much in the same way we protect 5 year olds. As stupid people are common the rise of con artists proliferate. Imo, the less con artists the better.

We protect idiots from all types of things – gamers should be at the top of that list. They are like babies left in the woods. You can choose to let the stupid baby try to survive – but no one wants to watch a wolf rend the baby limb from limb on youtube.

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Bruno Brito

but no one wants to watch a wolf rend the baby limb from limb on youtube.

Speak for yourself, i hate children.

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HolyAvengerOne

Good thing for you that your parents didn’t think the same or you wouldn’t be here to burden us with the stupidity of this comment.

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Bruno Brito

It was a joke, targeted at Armsbend because he’s the resident nihilist here.

Good thing for you that your parents didn’t think the same or you wouldn’t be here to burden us with the stupidity of this comment.

Don’t make me dream.

Whatever you seem to think, is of no consequence to me. Go back to your little crusade.

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HolyAvengerOne

Well, maybe next time be a bit more specific that it’s an inside joke instead of polluting this space with that stuff.

Also seems that you care enough / is enough of consequence to you that you took time to respond :)

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Bruno Brito

Also seems that you care enough / is enough of consequence to you that you took time to respond :)

Not really, i just like having the last word. It makes me fuzzy inside and i dance on my table.

Well, maybe next time be a bit more specific that it’s an inside joke instead of polluting this space with that stuff.

All hail HolyAvengerOne, owner of MOP and the true cleanser we need.

Back to your crusade now. Move along.

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HolyAvengerOne

Wow, I really hit a nerve, eh? Hahaha :*D

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Dro Gul

I think it’s very cult-like behavior. They not only tie their personal worth to the game but go out and try to lure others into giving money to the leader.

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HolyAvengerOne

That would be true in all cases if two conditions were met: a) the object of the cult is impossible to realize (it is, others have made MMOs before…); and b) the entire set of beliefs relies on dogma (it isn’t, many of us have jumped ship for a number of months or years now).

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Dro Gul

I said cult-like. Meaning similar to. And gave the similarities.

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HolyAvengerOne

And then I gave you the reasons why that wasn’t cult-like for a lot/most involved.

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HolyAvengerOne

You say gamers, but that applies to everyone – that’s why we have laws and contract terms.

The contract terms (Kickstarter’s) in this case were pretty clear: if the creator is unable to deliver the promised rewards, they must remedy by divulging what happened with the funds, attempt to refund if possible, and deliver as much as possible what’s been done with those funds.

None of that was done by Jeromy, and it is thus a breach of contract. Sadly, this isn’t the 13th century anymore, so that shit gets resolved in a court of law nowadays.

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HolyAvengerOne

Absolutely, I just wish the AG will investigate and find out the truth, whatever it may be. That’s all we can wish for at this point. I don’t share your confidence that this was purely incompetence, however, given the many lies and misrepresentation that occurred over this project’s life.

Either way, I’m at peace with outcome, whatever it is, but in no way does that mean I need to give a pass and mot attempt to bring to light the truth of what happened and make sure to uphold Jeromy to the Kickstarter Terms of Use.

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Dankey Kang

Hope that scumbag gets jail and a huge fine.

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P Jones

That buffoon who ran CoE publicly stated multiple times that the studio was closed. It’s right on his twitter. Right here he says he shut it:

Right here he said it was closed:


And somehow he has the gall to state we misunderstood him?
How dumb does he think we are?
Fuck this clown.

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Toy Clown

He does as much backpedaling as Trump has done through the pandemic.

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HolyAvengerOne

Well put. You could also check his LinkedIn announcement and find the same thing :

View post on imgur.com

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cursedseishi

It’s worth it to note that Washington state actually has history of some degree with this. They had successfully sued a prior project a while back.

https://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-city-life/2015/10/washington-state-sued-a-failed-kickstarter-project-and-won

So at least in Washington, there is already precedence with the courts for CPA enforcement regarding Crowdfunded projects that fail on their requisite honors agreed upon when you start the project. And it’s why, whenever I see people spamming the ‘I invoke blahdablahdaba’ line elsewhere, I point them towards that as a start.

And I’m guessing that fact likely encouraged Jeremy to try and squeeze out whatever excuse he could. Since there are fines associated to violating CPA, even if there was only 100 backers from Washington that is a guaranteed $100k USD in that alone. It stacks quick, and it stacks hard on projects like these. And while there are no hard numbers…

Seattle alone is shown to have 85 backers in Washington. $85k. There could be plenty more in other cities there, that just don’t show up in the ‘top’ lists of the kickstarters community tab.

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Arktouros

“It’s called Kickstarter not Kickfinisher” is probably my favorite line in that entire article.

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HolyAvengerOne

Thanks for posting that update, Bree!

We now have in excess of 250 complaints filed with the AG. Everyone who has at heart the indie MMO development and crowdfunding as a tool to achieve these can file a complaint today and help us shed some light on what happened with Chronicles of Elyria and Soulbound Studios.

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Lethality

Let me guess, every crowdfunding project that fails to finish is a scam correct? Unless it meets your exact specifications for timelines and communication, they were out to just take your money. Right?

You are adults. You want something done, you put your money where your mouth is. Yep, sometimes you get punched in the mouth… but at least you weren’t silent.

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Bruno Brito

the reps recommend that affected citizens submit formal complaints and say they “stand ready” to prosecute scams again.

The AG itself said it. They’re on their full rights to sue and try to get their due back.

But i don’t expect anything besides gamer-bashing and dev-masturbation from you.

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Dro Gul

Hey. Guess who set that timeline for CoE. Missed it, set another, missed it, on and on for years with nothing delivered? It wasn’t the supporters it was the clown show developer.
And since We are talking adult behavior, when someone tells you they are going to do something and repeatedly doesn’t, the adults would question that. A child just looks at the new shiny thing they promised and never connect that fact that they never received the last 10 shiny things they were promised.
Guys like you are part of the problem by creating an environment where people like Jeromy can thrive.

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Bruno Brito

Leth is a known dev zealot in MOP. He only appears to defend developers from the big bad gamers.

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P Jones

I wonder if he LOLs people on another gaming site.

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Bruno Brito

I don’t know, i don’t care. Leth is a waste of time. Always was, always will be.

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HolyAvengerOne

Given that you have no idea what my stance is on other failed crowdfunding ventures, I could use that exact same logic you’re using to tell you “oh, so since that given Kickstarter game actually released, don’t you see they’re all legit and never scammy?”

Now that we’ve shown your logic flaws, on to the actual arguments.

CoE very probably did not start as a scam, but over time, so many red flags started popping off, up until the day of closure, that we just cannot take Jeromy for his words anymore, and that’s why we want the Washington AG to investigate this thoroughly, with all the legal tools at his disposal, in order to bring light on what happened.

At the end of the day, if it was just tough luck and incompetence, well ok, that happens and it’s a risk we were willing to take.

However, if it was misrepresentation, and lies, and misappropriation of funds, and petty egotistical infighting, and if that truly led to the breach of Kickstarter terms of use, as it could be the case, then no, that wasn’t part of the risk we were taking when we entered that agreement with Jeromy in good faith. If that’s the case, then it must be remedied by whatever means possible.

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Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

“CoE very probably did not start as a scam, but over time, so many red flags started popping off”

This is a very important aspect in my opinion. Thing is I know everyone knows this but it often bears repeating, making games is hard and making an MMO is a lot harder. Kickstarters all start with lots of hopes and dreams but for the most part they’d have just scratched the surface by the time they run their kickstarter. They have a game design and maybe they prototyped some aspects but unless they had a ton of prior funding they didnt have the resources to create a deep enough vertical slice to know for sure they’re able to create what they intend to create. When reality hits is when things probably start going south. They can’t simply scale back because backers will not accept it. They lock themselves into solving what for them may very well be an unsolvable problem(s) and that’s where the red flags you mention come in. They cant tell their backers the truth, they cant tell their backers how that impediment is wasting all their time. They try to stall but gamers arent stupid and sometimes they can see right through that veil. Is it immoral ? yes probably but is that a scam? I dont think so.

This is not to say kickstarters cant be scams, ofcourse some do create kickstarters with no intention to create a game at all. Its also possible some pay themselves large salaries and run out of funds too quickly. Its also possible to over promise just to get the funds. Or be guilty of not running proper due diligence before promising features.

That being said I dont see anything that suggests scam here to me. Obviously I am not all knowing and just cause I dont see it, it doesnt mean its not there. But a studio spending 7 million when they spent 4 years working on game with a team of 19 people especially when you factor in licenses / rent and overheads sounds about right, It doesnt sound like anyone ran with a bunch of money.

Thing is Lethality is right in that kickstarters have risks and people who partake in them accept those risks. Its not fair to renege on that if things dont go our way. We cant expect developers to drive themselves into ruin every time they cant deliver. Now again to be clear maybe there is something I am not seeing here but from where i stand it seems to me some people bought a lottery ticket and now want a refund because they didnt win and thats just not right.

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Dro Gul

If you do not see anything suggesting scam then you haven’t looked.
A perfect example was given earlier. Kickstarter rules state the goal amount has to be for the full amount to complete the project. Nowhere on the campaign main page does it mention that this was just for a demo. Instead he used images to make it seem like this was a game well into development. He even claimed to have paid a team of 15 for the year before the Kickstarter and would only go to Kickstarter after substantial development was completed.

Every year he gave a state of the game update where he listed all the great stuff to come the following year. Nearly zero of that ever occurred. Instead he just promised new stuff next year.

Before you pontificate go read the Kickstarter page. Then go read some of the articles on here.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

Again for business reasons no business can be honest about what goes on behind the curtains. Originally CoE planned to release in Dec 2017 thats about a year after the kickstarter. $1m would be enough to finance 1 year of development with a team of less then 20 people. It would have been a scam if they had asked for $20m to do that.

NOW the big red herring. Obviously I have no idea as much as everyone else, what went on behind the curtains. If their projected end of Dec target date was a lie then yeah Scam obviously. Personally I dont think thats the case cause it doesnt make sense for them to lie about that. They didnt stop on Dec 2017, they knew full well it would make people angry and it costs them money of course. If you’re scamming you’re not going to do things that cost you more then Its going to make you right?

Now I am also aware they said the plan was always to use the money to make a prototype and then get further funding. Personally I think thats where the lie is. Here is why. In 2018 they dropped spacialOS, after they were suppose to release. At that point they obviously starter from scratch because spatial OS was the engine that made everything work not some cosmetic item you can just replace with no consequences. That was definitely not the plan all along. Changing your core technology naturally also destroys your timeline. While in their original plan SpacialOS was going to handle the bulk of the technical detail now they had to do everything themselves. That right there scrapped all the plans that went into the kickstarter as well ofcourse.

But why the lying? Thing is strictly speaking they have no choice. If they publically state well yeah we thought we could finish the game in a year but now 2 years later we’re essentially starting from scratch they could be 100% sure they’d never get any investor support. Investors aren’t stupid, they’re not going to back someone who admits publically they had to scrap everything. Likewise they’d loose backer confidence and people will start pushing for refunds. Thats pandora’s box and no one is going to open it.

Again just to be clear, I am not saying thats the right thing to do. I am not saying they acted correctly. I am only saying this doesnt seem like they were trying to scam anyone. Seems to me its more a case of them biting more then they could chew and to me thats the number 1 risk with any kickstarter.

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P Jones

So, to be clear: The Kickstarter was supposed to be for the full amount of the project. The Kickstarter campaign’s main page does not mention anything about this only being for a demo and also the dates listed are clearly not for a demo. In the FAQ they say it is for the full release of the game. He said they had significant amount of work done on the game and it would be released in it’s entirety in Dec 17 (again, leading people to believe a lot of work was done). After the campaign, on this very website he states that he was surprised people did not know they would need more money and at the same time he shut down refunds.

You see nothing that could be considered a scam there? Seriously?
At a minimum, since he ADMITTED that the goal amount was not for the full project, he should have had all funding canceled from the Kickstarter. Instead, he kept all that money plus a few hundred thousand extra. How is that allowed?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

To be honest I am not sure if its a rule as much a guideline. First of all its not listed under the rule section of using kickstarter but rather in the creator handbook. But if it was a hard rule which I dont believe it is, it would be a rule thats impossible to comply with within the gaming industry. Making a game is not like making a deck of cards, you cant precisely calculate how much its going to cost to get to the finishing line. Which game related kickstarter hit its delivery target?
Bards tale iv – 1 year late
Pillars of eternity – 1 year late
Battletech also 1 year late

And thats the first 3 I came across without cherry picking something like crowfall or star citzen which are YEARS late. If having to request full funds was an enforceable rule no game would ever resort to kickstarter because you can pretty much guarantee they’re going to break it out of necessity.

To be fair unless they have since changed the kickstarter campaign page they said they invested some of their money, had money coming in from investors and that they plan to continue funding the game through their webpage. However you are right in that they mentioned they needed 3m after the kickstarter which isnt very honest from their part. That being said the 3m wasnt the issue because they got twice that money and still failed.

However all this being said its also important to point out that hiding certain negative facts about your situation to sell doesnt make you a scam artist. Every product on face of the earth probably has facts that they’d rather their customers not know.

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P Jones

Again- It’s not about being late, although pointing at other people and saying they were late too is what a 5 year old does.

It’s about fraud- Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

So read your last paragraph and then read the definition of fraud again.

Luckily the Attorney General is already involved so it doesn’t really matter what an internet apologist “thinks”.

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HolyAvengerOne

Many good points were made above. A few notes:

1) Kickstarters, according to their terms of use (the legally binding contract between the backers and creators) states clearly that the funds requested in a campaign must be sufficient to bring the rewards to the backers. After the KS, Jeromy went back on that.

2) Jeromy sold us the Kickstarter with some detailed “in-game” footage of a client he had been working on for 1 year+ prior to the Kickstarter; 4 years later, no trace of that client to be found. We were also sold on the fact he was using SpatialOS for the backend, on which he spun-around afterwards and decided to code the whole backend himself.

3) Jeromy named several people as co-founder and director in the initial KS campaign pitch, many of which we never had any proof of working on COE, and many of which don’t show “Soulbound Studios” on their LinkedIn profiles.

4) Misrepresentation also happened when, a few days before the closure, Jeromy was still selling packages, accepting sales, and promoting a bunch of pre-alpha experiences that were just around the corner.

5) Jeromy stated that they had run out of funds, yet they made 1.6 million+ USD in the last 7 months prior to closure, and over $60,000 in the last 2 weeks of their promo; we couldn’t find eother 10 employees that actually worked there in the last year prior to closure.

6) Most employees that we found having worked there over the last few years were designers and artists. Very few programmers ever worked there and most actually were employed for just a few months or had concurrent jobs.

All of those points, in my opinion, are sufficient hints that there was indeed some pretty important mismanagement and misrepresentation going on, ones born out of decisions that any reasonable studio executive couldn’t, I think, reasonably believe would lead to a successful endeavour here.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

1) I dont think thats true, Its not listed anywhere in the terms of use or the rules page that I can find. That statement does exist of course but as far as I can tell its just in the creator’s handbook and seems to me its more of a suggestion then a rule since the wording is funding goal should and not funding goal must. And I know I am knitpicking but legally that may very well make a difference if that part is legally binding at all which I dont think it is since its a handbook not something you’re agreeing to.

2) A game in development is a game in development, things change. I am sure he didnt change his mind on spacialOS for fun. It doesnt automatically imply fraud just cause he changed the design.

3) If thats the case this is so far the strongest argument I heard so far. But if that was the case I’d expect someone would have asked them and they would publically stated their names were being used without their permission and they werent truly involved. Why would they keep silent?

4) This is a complicated point. I’d say its clearly a case of fraud if they didnt offer refunds to whoever bought those packs. I wouldnt say trying to sell them is automatically a case of fraud because they may as well hoped they’d make enough to fund development long enough to find outside investment. It would be fullish I agree but not giving up isnt the same as fraud. If they’re keeping the money from those sales though thats definitely wrong / fraud no question.

5) if thats true thats definitely fishy. could be they had debts to pay I suppose but definitely warrants investigation. Naturally if they had funds left they should be refunded not kept!

6) This seems pure speculation to me, granted based on the pre-alpha they released a few days ago it seems entirely plausible but its impossible to say that not being able to track developers down automatically means there were never any!

Mismanagement yes for sure, no doubt about that, no argument what so ever that the whole thing was mismanaged from start to finish. But there is a difference between mismanagement / incompetence to malicious intent / fraud!

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

You miss understand my point, I wasnt implying the issue is being late. Whats the cost of a game? Primarily its the labor cost. What is the biggest factor of labor cost in a game? how long it will take you to finish it. If for the sake of argument you have 20 people working on a game and you’re paying 50k wages to each, then the game is going to cost 1m a year to make (ignoring other costs for this argument). Hence if a developer estimates its going to take 5 years to finish a game they’ll project they need $5m to make said game. However if something happens mid development (which it nearly always does) and you find something doesnt work out as planned, or takes longer to optimize etc… and you end up needing 6 years to complete your game then your estimate of $5m was wrong and you actually needed $6m which if that was a hard rule that entitles backers for refunds then you’re in big trouble dont you think?

In short my point is simply its impossible for anyone to accurately estimate how long it will take for them to finish their game which in turns means its impossible for them to estimate exactly how much it will cost which in turn means they could never satisfy a hard rule where they have to ask for the exact funds needed to finish their product.

Not specifically stating they needed $3m extra in funding makes which other statement misleading exactly? They did say they needed extra funding beyond the kickstarter, they said they were going to engage with investors and they said they planned to keep gathering funds beyond the kickstarter. I am not a lawyer but I dont see how that omission changes anything they stated. Beyond that what damage did it cause? Its pretty safe to say the project didnt fail because they didnt manage to get the $3m they needed.

Just cause the AG is already involved doesn’t mean the other party is automatically guilty. Also just for clarification I am not apologizing for anyone much less for CoE which I have no stake in. I didnt back them. I just find it really disingenuous when people invest in kickstarter / Early access and even though in both cases they’re clearly told the risks, they’re clearly told that they’re not buying anything but rather they’re financing the development which might fail to get to the finish, each time a project fails its like they guaranteed there was no way for said project to fail because very often there is talk of fraud or “they ran off with the money”.

Reader
P Jones

You do a disservice by continually lumping CoE in with other Kickstarters. I gave you the general legal definition of fraud. You seem to think its OK for a company to mislead customers about the state of the game in order to get them to pay money. It is not.

As Holy points out, we believe they clearly misrepresented the condition of the game. We were told they ALREADY had a playable demo and had completed substantial development of the game. They specifically made both statements in the KS campaign.

Even the supposed CO-FOUNDER of the company has removed all trace of SoulboundStudios from his linked-in page. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know then I give up.

As I said, what you believe is irrelevant. The actual AG is involved now.

PS: The budget didn’t grow from 900k because of a scheduling problem. The budget was NEVER 900k. he knew 900k was not enough to create the game (he was also wrong about it being possible on 3.5M but that’s a different issue). He knew, during the KS, that 900k was not enough. He portrayed his development as being far along so we, not knowing any better, could believe that only 900k and 18 months were enough to finish a game. Little did we know that he seemingly really hadn’t even started much of the game. That is misleading and I believe clearly fraud. We will see if the AG agrees.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

Where did I say its okey to mislead customers about the state of a game in order to get them to pay money? I said no such thing and neither do I believe it to be so! But you keep saying they had a playable demo and claimed they had completed a substantial part of the development yet in their kickstarter the only thing about a demo I can find is this “We also promised to only go to Kickstarter once we had a playable demo (combat demo released at PAX East) and substantial development to show. “. (emphasis mine)

Now granted substantial development may very well be misleading no argument about that but for the rest,they correctly labeled the demo *combat* demo which to me clearly states this is a vertical slice showing just the combat mechanics and why would you do that if not because thats all you have? Its not like they kept it hidden either, they showed the video which even someone who never played an MMO could tell they still had A LOT of work still to be done. More then that though they also stated they had partnered with SpacialOS which would be used for the backend which well clearly indicates they had no backend yet! I dont think its fair to say they were trying to give the impression they were nearly finished. Yes they said “substantial development” and yes I do agree calling that demo substantial development is a huge huge stretch, but who on earth would look at that and think ohh they’re nearly done!

Reader
P Jones

That combat demo was not a demo of the actual game. The problem is that you apparently know nothing about this game’s development history but feel compelled to speak on it as though you do.
How do you go from this…

To this in 2019…

As I said- You can apologize for them all you want (and yes despite your protestations that is exactly what you are doing. trying to find technicalities for them to weasel through). It is irrelevant. The AG is on the case and we will know in a few months if there is legitimate legal jeopardy here. The sad part is that all your defense does is make it harder for LEGITIMATE KS projects that face issues because you are bending over backward to try and get this ridiculous clown show lumped together with them.

I’m sure even once the AG presses charges you will have some explanation/excuse for them.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Emmanuel Carabott

That combat demo was not a demo of the actual game.

Yeah that’s exactly my point, it was a demo of the combat they were going for and not of the game.

The problem is that you apparently know nothing about this game’s development history but feel compelled to speak on it as though you do.

I already said quite clearly I didnt back the game, obviously I didnt follow its development history. But you keep thinking I am defending CoE specifically when actually I am defending KS in general.

How do you get from what looks decent to what looks terrible? Do you think game development works backwards? Do you think you first finish coding a game and then you seek financing to make that game? You seem to genuinely think they were near completion when they did their kickstarter but that was clearly not the case. An MMO with no backend hasnt even started yet.

I am the one who’s making it harder for legitimate ks projects? What are your claims that CoE was a Scam?
1. They showed mockup content rather than actual content
2. They didnt ask for all the funds necessary to finish the product
3. They were not fully transparent

Lets say you get all that you want and AG prosecutes them and an actual court finds them guilty and say orders them to refund backers. what do you think the effect will be on KS? even the most noble of projects will likely be guilty of all 3 like I already explained. If you’re going to KS for funding to develop a game, naturally you dont have a game yet, yet you need to show players something so like everyone else you’ll create a vertical slice of what you plan to achieve. 2. No project can ever know how long it will take for them to get to the finish line hence there is no way for them to ask for all the funds they will need in advance because they cant possibly know exactly how much money they’ll need. 3. No one is ever going to share the deep dark secrets that will essentially ensure they dont get a single cent or make them toxic if they ever decide/need to look for an investor in the future. Now if you get a precedent where breaking one of the these 3 rules which is in my opinion is unavoidable, could get you liable for having to pay potentially millions in money you dont have in the event you fail to get to the finish line, who on earth would risk funding through KS anymore?

Now I get it, there are major red flags in CoE. The fact that after 4 years all they showed are grey box environments is suspicious no doubt. I am not claiming they’re clearly legitimate beyond suspicion here. For the 3rd time my argument is simply that to me they tried their best to make the game. Yes they fell extremely short and yes they miss managed this greatly. But that doesnt make it a scam.

You can apologize for them all you want (and yes despite your protestations that is exactly what you are doing. trying to find technicalities for them to weasel through)

What am I doing now? my whole argument is in essence this “they’ve worked on this for 4 years, payed a team of 19 people to work on it with a budget of $7m” provided all that is true they tried to make the game which to me means they were not trying to scam anyone. Ofcourse this is a bit of a generalization because Holy in a separate post says they have $1.7m remaining funds and if thats true and they’re trying to keep those then yes they would be scamming those funds no doubt. So I ask again what technicalities I am trying to employ to get them to weasel out of what exactly? with all due respect but it is you who are trying to find some technicality to weasel out of the commitment you made here (assuming you backed the project).

Reader
P Jones

Again. You are acting like an internet apologist for a game who’s development you admit you didn’t follow. The definition of Fraud was posted above. They blatantly misrepresented the state of the game when they launched the Kickstarter. “They tried their best” is not an excuse for misrepresenting the status of development when trying to get money, even if it were true, which you who didn’t follow the game have no freaking idea. You do not know what they spent their money on, nor do you know how much of it was spent. You have no idea about the photoshopped “mood pieces” or anything else yet feel compelled to chime in on what (again) you didn’t even follow.

The AG is involved. You can whine all you want but it’s utterly irrelevant. He will or will not press charges. As I said repeatedly when the charges are filed I expect that you will continue to whine about it. Amazing for someone who never followed the game. LOL

Pepperzine
Reader
Pepperzine

How’s “Revival” treating you?

Reader
HolyAvengerOne

Treating whom?!