No, we didn’t write a ‘testimonial review’ supporting Kickstarter MMO Magic to Master

So many intelligent decisions!

A couple of years back, we reported on the resurrection of Magic to Master, aka M2M, which along with Laniatus had apparently changed hands to a Turkish Hungarian gaming outfit with plans for a revival and a Patreon. It’s been waiting in the wings on Steam for a bit, and now the game is now on Kickstarter – with several serious red flags.

The first is that the game’s Kickstarter includes “testimonial reviews” from multiple websites – including, to our amazement, ours. The problem is that we never wrote what it claims we wrote. Nobody here has ever even played this game. We don’t do reviews, let alone testimonials. We don’t award stars. And if somebody turned in an article with that many typos and random words capitalized and a total lack of substantive content, a major rewrite would be in order.

In other words, the game’s Kickstarter is fibbing about at least one MMO website’s support, which in addition to being deeply dishonest is also an obvious violation of Kickstarter’s policies. We don’t know whether the other “testimonial reviews” from other sites actually exist, but our searches for a few of them came up empty, so we’re guessing some of them are fake too. Here they are for posterity. (We’ve reported it to Kickstarter, as we’re assuming they’ll be removed at some point. [Update: They’re gone now.])

You’ll note that one of the “testimonial reviews” is from Hero Engine, which would be a weird entity to be reviewing a game, seeing as how it has an apparent business relationship with M2M, but let’s talk about that too. The Kickstarter proclaims its use of Hero Engine and says it is “directly linked to Idea Fabrik,” which as we recently covered is effectively defunct, with its website vanishing from the internet, its founders scampering off to new ventures, and its core remaining in-house game shuttered. That’s not impossible, but certainly another bizarre claim.

Normally in a Kickstarter post, we’d be talking about the pitch-game’s content, its plans, its budget (oh goodness, this budget, you guys), and its launch window (early access July 2023), but we really don’t see the point of going through those motions for a game actively misrepresenting our website’s support; moreover, as readers point out, this particular pitch includes a team far too big for the size of the game as well as outside funding and a stretch goal for NFT pets (what?!) [Update: As of 5/31, the devs claim “NFT” means “necessary features tree,” not a ref to crypto.] We often recommend not backing any Kickstarters for your own safety, but definitely not this one.

Source: Kickstarter
FYI: concurs that the “testimonial review” attributed by Laniatus to is also fraudulent.

The developers now say it was a placeholder. “Excuse me, it shouldn’t be there,” they tweeted. “We don’t have an official review yet. We sent out a review invitation for MOP in advance. This was purely for testing purposes. We forgot to remove it due to our excitement. We apologize for this misunderstanding.” The fake reviews (seven of them, apart from Hero Engine’s) have also now been deleted, but that’s why we screencapped ’em above.
Update 5/31
Apparently, a member of the Laniatus staff is discussing this article in the Hero Engine Discord, which if messages from the staff are correct is now owned by Laniatus, along with the rest of Idea Fabrik and Hero Engine. This is apparently what the Kickstarter means when it says it is “directly linked to Idea Fabrik,” but the exact nature of that relationship was not disclosed in the Kickstarter.

As to the claims being made in Discord: First, anyone can ask anything in email, including for a review, but we don’t do reviews, and there’s no “registered request in [our] database” – that’s not a thing that exists, and if it did, it’s not relevant anyway. And second, while this company has apologized to us – repeatedly and at length – there’s no “evidence that this was a mistake” apart from the developer’s protestations. However, following those apologies, the developer has criticized our decision to defend our rep and disavow the fake review, saying, “It is MOP’s mistake to damage the brand image by reporting this.” In fact, it would be a mistake to remove the article, which this developer asked us to do; our obligation is to the public, and the public would not be served by hiding the full story and chain of events. We will not be removing this article.

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