After raising $123,000 on Kickstarter to develop a new tabletop board game called ‘The Doom That Came To Atlantic City’, creator Erik Chevalier has told backers that the project has been abandoned.
“The project is over, the game is cancelled,” Chevalier wrote in an update for the project’s Kickstarter page (spotted by CVG).
“Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications. No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.”
The remarks have been met with a wave of criticism from backers that have pledged potentially thousands of dollars to see the game realized and eventually own a copy of the final product. A number of these commenters have now filed complaints with the Oregon Department of Justice – the state where Chevalier’s company is based – for fraudulent activity.
Trying to make peace
A second update has since been posted by Chevalier to try to stabilize the situation. He has contacted the Oregon Department of Justice to explain the situation and will now work with them “to see what I need to do to make this right in their eyes.”
“This project has been a year of frustration on every level,” he said. “There are things you don’t know and I can’t talk about yet without first seeking legal advice, but hopefully in time everything will be made clear. I don’t expect everyone to accept my apologies, there is nothing I can say that will make every single backer forgive me.”
Chevalier has also stated that he wants to refund all of the Kickstarter backers, as well as those who pre-ordered the game after the campaign closed through his company’s webstore. He claims to have started this process already – starting with post-campaign pre-orders – although there’s no time frame as to when it will be completed.
We’ve seen this time and time again
The scenario is not uncommon for Kickstarter. Josh Dibb, a band member of Animal Collective, infamously raised over $25,000 in 2009 and never delivered any of the materials promised to backers, further highlighting the various flaws and pitfalls associated with Kickstarter.
The crowdfunding platform has huge accountability issues. It’s a tool that enables the public to make donations for projects they want to succeed. The problem lies in the ‘perks’ offered to backers with specific pledge amounts – these are often straight-up pre-orders, which come with social expectations. The main one being, of course, that they’ll eventually get the product.
Kickstarter doesn’t have a mechanism for ensuring that project creators actually deliver on their original pitch. The problem is heightened when the amount raised goes far beyond the original funding target – in the case of Chevalier, he raised well over three times his initial goal. The perception and expectation that backers have of the pitch is then changed and inevitably heightened, increasing the likelihood that the creator won’t fully deliver.
Kickstarter: Not our problem
It later adds: “Kickstarter does not offer refunds. A Project Creator is not required to grant a Backer’s request for a refund unless the Project Creator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the reward.”
This would point to some kind of structural, or perhaps contractual obligation by project creators to deliver their rewards to backers as promised. Wrong.
“Kickstarter is not liable for any damages or loss incurred related to rewards or any other use of the Service,” it continues. “Kickstarter is under no obligation to become involved in disputes between any Users, or between Users and any third party arising in connection with the use of the Service. This includes, but is not limited to, delivery of goods and services, and any other terms, conditions, warranties, or representations associated with campaigns on the Site.”
Kickstarter is, essentially, completely disconnected and won’t hold project creators to account. Just to make that crystal clear, it later states: “You release Kickstarter, its officers, employees, agents, and successors in rights from claims, damages, and demands of every kind, known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, disclosed or undisclosed, arising out of or in any way related to such disputes and the Service.”
Backers involved with ‘The Doom That Came To Atlantic City’ are therefore on their own. Reporting the matter to the Oregon Department of Justice was likely their only option.