So, Then I Just Backed it: A Series on My Kickstarter Adventures (Part 2)

Have you ever supported someone or something financially to help them, or have you been on the receiving end and totally appreciated all the help that they provided? What did you do to honor this support? You paid off a bill, or used it to feed yourself, or perhaps helped family members. In the gaming world, sometimes you support a project that promises amazing things, but turns out to be disappointing in entirely different ways as well as varying degrees. But before I get more into this article, I want to let you know for the most part I’ve had positive encounters on Kickstarter that definitely offset the negative experiences. As I recount my adventures, I will start with the mild and head towards the spicy side of it. This is my Kickstarter adventure.

Mild: Magic Puzzles by Magic Puzzle Company

Let’s talk about a project that was by no means bad, but I would like to point out some errors in the delivery of this product to the Kickstarter community. Imagine backing a project, and in this case, it was a set of Magic Puzzles that my mom and I backed, just to see what was so magic about them. You back the project in June and are promised to have it delivered to you by October. October comes and goes, and you do not receive the product yet, which to me delays are expected and are completely fine. Now here is the part that is disappointing with regards to the company, and again very mild. You are walking around your local Target store and you turn the corner to the toy aisle, and then low and behold, on an end cap is the Magic Puzzles you had backed! A full month after you were promised delivery. You would be a little frustrated to say the least.

We eventually received the three puzzles, but my point is, if you back a project, no matter what it is, the people who backed your project deserve the product they funded before or at the same time as the rest of the public, not after! This is a tip for anyone who is new to starting a campaign.

Medium: Hero of the Ages: An Illustrated Anthology by Catstealers-Zines

So, this next project is in a bit more of a gray area because the failure wasn’t really the fault of the people behind the project. You see, I backed a book titled Hero of Ages: An Illustrated Anthology, which had various artists with an affinity for The Legend of Zelda series. They created art that was inspired by Zelda and through the beautiful pictures depicted their feelings and showcased their talented art style on paper. I backed the project because I love all things Zelda. The project had an outpouring of support and was doing extremely well; however, in the final 24 hours to back the book, the project took a turn for the worst. The team sent out an email and apologized to all backers, stating that the project was canceled due to the copyright violation accusations raised by Nintendo. The project ceased to exist within 24 hours; the book never came to see the light of day. Nintendo had every right to do this, but I wish that they could have worked out something with the Kickstarter team. What is disappointing the most is the fact that the proceeds from this project were going to charity; though I don’t know the details, I’m sure there could be more to this story. Of course, this is not the only time Nintendo has stepped into a Kickstarter project I had backed, but this was the only time that the project I backed was canceled because of the company’s intervention.

Spicy: Kumo – A Boy in the Clouds

Now we are at the final stop on my disappointed and heat-rated, food-based, project list. In August of 2019, I backed a beautiful looking indie game titled: Kumo – A Boy in the Clouds. The game was described as “An Atmospheric Tale of Hope.” It was an amazing looking adventure game that reminded me of Journey or Rime, and in hindsight, it was with good reason as to why it did. I along with 780 other backers pledged our money to this campaign. For me, I pledged to back the physical game, which was supposed to be my first physically backed game on Kickstarter. The tagline under the pledge tier name said, “Get a once in a lifetime physical game copy! + all early rewards.” I’ll include a list of those rewards. Who knew that this amazing list of items would turn into a nightmare of empty promises, lies, and stolen money and assets?

The creator behind this project, showcased a colorful landscape in which the character traverses the land as players explore and solve puzzles. Reminiscent of the game Journey from ThatGameCompany and Tequila Works’ game Rime, Kumo looked like it took inspiration from both amazing games. Well, in fact Kumo took just a little bit more than inspiration from these games. After a promise of trying to keep a January 2020 release for the game, they ultimately had to reschedule the release date for October 2020; then there was an update given on May 5, 2020 entitled, “Big legal problems!” So this is where the downturn began for the project’s backers.

The notice started out stating that the moment was “extremely dangerous for Kumo‘s development.” The post detailed a legal issue with Tequila Works and a possible delay of six months to a year, and possibly even a total closure of development. The creator explained that even if it got him into trouble, he would be honest and straight to the point with his backers, and that he would update us on the situation. He also stated that we could contact him on discord or twitter with any questions. On his Twitter, he briefly posted that he had legal action taken against his game because Tequila Works said that the trees in his game were directly from their game Rime. Shortly after, he removed this post from Twitter and with the outpouring of people angry with Tequila Works for suppressing an indie developer, the company responded. Tequila Works stated that there was no legal action taken, and that they simply sent him a statement asking about the similar resemblance of trees in his game. This was an indication of where this was headed. He again posted later that day on May 5 detailing a bit more on the status of the game and in bold letters stated, “But I Can Promise It, Kumo will Return.”

Two days later on May 7, 2020, the creator wrote a post entitled, “Closing Down,” which simply highlighted that he was stressed, and that he would be closing down Kumo, that he felt sorry. On May 16, in a post entitled “Update On What Will Go On,” He wrote “Hello again, so the situation has been resolved. Going forward I have decided to fully terminate Kumo for good.” He apologized once more, saying that “he [had] poor management skills, and is inexperienced, and [felt sorry] for causing the situation as it was entirely his fault.” Later in the post in bold letters he said, “If Kumo does not release, I WILL PROVIDE A REFUND.” This of course was going to be over a period of time.

On July 31, 2020, he stated that some of the refunds had gone out, and that he would slowly roll out the rest. On August 26, 2020, he shared a picture of pledge returns and stated that he was truly sorry, that he understood he had made a mistake, and just wanted this to be over.

The last post we as backers received was on September 30, 2020 entitled, “Quick Update Sorry.” He said, “Refunds are currently on hold as I have to look [after personal issues].” There has been no communication since this post, and he has shut down his social media accounts. The campaign manager cannot be reached. Also someone was able to get the renders from both the trees in Rime and in Kumo and they are in fact the same trees. So where does that leave the backers?

For the most part, we are out the money, but what hurts is the way this was played out; maybe all of this happened just as stated, but after watching this YouTube video from Slope’s Game Room detailing a bit more of the journey, I feel a bit more certain that I was going to lose out on that money at some point. It never feels good to be used, taken advantage of, or stolen from.

Even though I have been on this journey, and had negative things like this occur, please do not let this deter you from backing a project on any platform. You do what you feel is right. I’ve learned from these experiences, which is why I am way more cautious of whom I back, and I do not back as many physical items as I had in the past, but I’m getting there again slowly. I hope you have learned a bit form these examples, and I hope you get out there and back something worthwhile and amazing. Happy backing!   

Shane Kelley is a Staff writer for Boss Rush Network, as well as a writer for Another Zelda Podcast. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can find him on Twitter to talk video games, Marvel, and axe throwing.

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Read Part 1: Kickstarter Part 1