As we’ve been covering over the last month and change, Soulbound Studios shocked backers and watchers when it announced that MMORPG Chronicles of Elyria, the recipient of millions in crowdfunding money, was laying off staff and ceasing production, having run out of cash. The revelation caused backers to seek aid from the Washington State Attorney General’s office and pursue other avenues for refunds and civil suits for what they characterize as a scam. Then Soulbound backtracked, claiming it’d been misunderstood – that in fact some staff remain to work on the game and the studio was seeking alternative funding sources, which some backers interpreted to be an effort to stall legal action against the company.
The latest development probably won’t change the minds of any angry backers, that’s for sure. Apparently, Soulbound CEO Jeromy Walsh penned an FAQ for the Washington State AG’s office, and now that FAQ is being distributed to backers, complaining consumers, and Kickstarter readers. In it, Walsh repeats the newer assertion that the studio is still working on the MMO, that its “intention was and continues to be to deliver” the game. “Our intention was never to shut down the game or the company,” Walsh says. “We used the word ‘shutter’ incorrectly and regret ever writing that.”
However, Walsh says he doesn’t know when the game will launch, confirms that the team was indeed laid off March 24th, and admits that he alone is working on the game, though “six or so” former team members have offered to volunteer to continue development. “Presently, we are discussing a plan with a potential investor/partner to provide a playable proof of technology game to you.”
The letter also informs backers that the studio will not be issuing refunds and outlines where all the money has gone to date.
“100% of the funds we raised through Kickstarter, our stretch goals, and direct contributions went directly to support the game’s development. Building games, especially games of this scope, is an expensive venture that is a combination of software development and art where things are bound to go wrong. We are no exception. Like many developers over the years, we have found ourselves way behind schedule. We are solely to blame for our mistakes. No one has purchased a Ferrari. No one has taken a world tour on your money. All salaries were within the norm for a company of our size in our industry and region. In fact, our founders are our biggest investors by far. So, where did your money go? Our costs can be broken down into payroll expenses for approximately 20 people, numerous contractors, health insurance, operating expenses (such as our lease, computers, electricity, Internet services), software licenses and associated royalties, legal costs, accounting, training, and marketing. Our run-rate has averaged nearly $2M a year over four years and every penny can be accounted for.”