Art MMO Occupy White Walls’ Kickstarter comes up short of its $124K ask


It turns out that art is a hard sell in the gaming space.

The decidedly unique Occupy White Walls saw its recent Kickstarter campaign fizzle to a close today, as the art MMO was only able to garner $54,924 of its desired $124,163 goal. While the game is running in early access on Steam, the team had hoped for extra funds to create better building tools, an improved AI, more sound options, a sculpture pack, and scripting support.

This must be a blow to the project, especially after being the subject of an April 17th piece in the New York Times. “More significantly, artists will soon be able to upload their own pieces for a fee, meaning that the game could function as a marketplace, less forbidding than traditional auction houses,” the Times said. “That seems to be [CEO Yarden Yaroshevski’s] grander ambition with Occupy White Walls. As the game’s name suggests, he said he wants to unsettle the art establishment, which he regards as a shadowy cabal: the gallerists, the auction houses, the dealers, the curators, the billionaire collectors.”

The studio’s confirmed work on the game continues!


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I think the biggest thing hurting their campaign was… that campaign, ouch.

They have a catchy video… But that’s it. The page might work for people already into the game, aware of it and playing it… But literally nobody else is going to know what it is about. There’s nothing to describe the game, the tiers are undefined, and the communication in general is abysmal outside of the comments section.

It took two weeks, Two. Bloody. Weeks! Just for them to come out and say what the Kickstarter is for. They even admit in that update that people have no clue why they’re doing a Kickstarter in the first place!

That’s… That is… It’s just… It’s just bad. A first impression is important, but a person’s first impression isn’t from your project video. It’s from the campaign’s main page. And that page makes Death Valley seem like a lush Hawaiian paradise. The very first thing I noticed clicking to it was that I was already literally at the bottom of it.

And it isn’t like one can claim the project didn’t get attention, either. It got a push from Kickstarter themselves.


Thank you for your comment, I would like to clarify that the page you see now is not the page we had for kickstarter. We had everything defined, multiple videos, lots of images showing every single reward in detail. We had at least 3 videos at the top including one where we spoke about the project and about the game.
The page was really quite long and very in depth. We simply had to remove most of it because it will stay there forever and we cannot change it.

Could you also explain the bad communication outside of the kickstarter? We respond to all comments and issues within minutes and are very helpful. Sure if you post on steam, we may not see if right away because steam sucks at notifying us of comments in the forums but discord and social media and in game f10 response is pretty fast.

We also did not get a push from kickstarter.


And to clarify, the second update was actually because most games in kickstarter dint exist, heck they dont even have a demo and it takes 2 or 3 years to make something to play, while our kickstarter. We had a working. Running game so some people wondered why we did a kickstarter even though we had a working game.
We also decided to share the top 5 features that were to be stretch goals with others in that update.
Our original page was maybe 30 or 40 pages long and we spent 6 months writing it and created images and videos for it.
We send multiple email campaigns, posted all over the internet but the fact that it started when over 195 million people lost their jobs due to covid was not helpful. :)


That explains the page being empty at least. However, honestly, there’s no reason to really ‘wipe’ the slate clean before it ends. Most every project keeps the front-end up, as the kickstarter page itself serves as a ‘portal’ for people to visit for updates, questions regarding the project, and the like. And in the event of doing later runs if failed or running secondary methods of backing the project after the Kickstarter ends (via Backerkit or other sites and methods), it’s a good method of having reference for people.

I’m also assuming then that the main page would have had at least some context as to why. Though if people were still questioning why, perhaps it wasn’t as well-defined then.

I can only go off what I see now, and unfortunately there just wasn’t anything on that page.

As for the Kickstarter push? They may not do a media blitzes, but when you check the page you guys did get a ‘Project We Love’ badge. That happens only during the time a kickstarter project is live, and it actually does drive attention. It’s a ‘curation’ of sorts that the staff use as a way of singling out projects they feel strongly for. Said projects are picked from for newsletters sent out, they do get a boost through the algorithms the site uses–though without any intimate understanding of it myself, I cannot speak as to how much. But when a project is featured as that, it does drive attention as they are marked when browsing, are most likely to be put on the front page, and are usually nudged up in general when people are searching around.

The last couple points are honestly a bit more subjective for me. When I mentioned communication, I’m specifically referring to the Kickstarter page itself. And since most of it was, as you said, taken down before it was closed, that was a big first strike to me. And, the more subjective point for me at least, was update cadence and the like… I acknowledged you guys were active in the comment section itself, but for updates specifically on the project? Things were… empty. There was an update 5 days after launch, 2 weeks after launch, and a final one about 1 month from launch. For me, I at least like to see a regular cadence–it doesn’t have to be every day, doesn’t need to be once a week, but I rarely back a project from the start unless I’m familiar with the creator. I follow, watch how they handle updating backers on things and go from there

In that second update, you did mention sharing things over a few weeks. That’s perfect. Expanding on and touching over what you’re doing and going to do while the project is live keeps attention on it from those who are learning about the game for the first time through Kickstarter. It keeps them engaged, and if they’re engaged they’re likely more willing to talk about it outside of the page and bring in additional backers.

And… Yeah, the current crisis is likely hitting a lot of people in a way that restricts things. It’s likely things would look much better if people weren’t presently concerned with how they’ll be stretching out funds, meals, medicine, and all of that. But there are projects that launched and succeeded about that same time frame too.
And part of that might just be due to the fact you guys are operating an MMO, and a non-standard one at that. Video Games have seen a downturn overall with Kickstarter, and MMO projects especially so. And loss of trust has a big thing to do with that.

As of the moment at least, the most popular ones are all from individuals with prior creator experience (with successful projects being the strongest lead-in), or those who may be first-timers but have had playable builds out there. Of the ones successful, most are below $100,000 USD however. And, unfortunately, not every great looking game on Kickstarter is going to be able to hit under that threshold. I’ve kept an eye on a couple myself that looked great, but they’re very much doomed to fail for no fault of their own. It’s just… how things have shifted.

Apologies on the length of my speculation though, as well as the assumptions made off the current page! And while your project isn’t exactly my cup of tea? If you decide to do another run later on, I wish you guys good luck on it!


Good points but we did try, a lot… I guess having a playable game already released and free to play for 2 years is not enough :) A person can click the website link with all the info to our game there, we did not keep a full description there because things change, what if we change the game to be something different than what the Kickstarter page states? We removed it minutes before the end of the Kickstarter. Leaving off the description on the Kickstarter page means that we can update the website it is linked to later if things change, we can’t do this on the Kickstarter page, so it is better in the long term to have it this way.

Regards to Kickstarter, Projects we love did not get us on the front page, it got us on the second or third page for less than a day or two. The featured project is on the front page and gets all the visibility and is included in emails which we did not get. :)


Turns out people play games for game play. Who would have thought?

Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

I liked OWW a lot at the start but the direction they’re taking it is far from what I expected . I looked at the Kickstarter and couldn’t really see what it was aiming at. As for the uploading of art, that seems to be moving ever further from the original concept that attracted me, a virtual art history course with a small building game attached.

I stopped playing when the AI, DAISY, started to suggest mostly new works by contemporary artists, sourced as far as i could see from the internet rather than galleries. I hadn’t seen that quote from the CEO before but it does shed a lot of light on how things have been going. I always thought OWW was a weird choice for a name but it makes sense now.


Hello, so every single artwork (over 7p00, mostly public domain) in game is manually edited and uploaded by us, we do not pull artwork from any other source.

Daisy the AI is designed to show you new artworks that you may never have chosen but may like, for example Player A buys an artwork, player B buys that same artwork and some other artworks, daisy will then show player A the other artwork that player B liked.

We also have a second AI, this one finds similar artwork, for if you click on a portrait of a woman. You will likley get more portraits of women.

With regard to being a platform for artists, it has always been our goal to allow artists to upload art into the game to find an audience. This has never changed.

You can view our art database here