Robot 6

Kickstarter-funded board game canceled, backers cry ‘fraud’

doom-atlantic city

More than a year after a Kickstarter campaign for a lighthearted Lovecraftian board game generated $122,000 in pledges, the project has been abruptly canceled, triggering accusations of fraud.

Erik Chevalier of The Forking Path Co. announced Tuesday to backers that The Doom That Came to Atlantic City! was simply “beyond my abilities.” “Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications,” he wrote. “No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.”

Designed by industry veterans Lee Moyer and Keith Baker, who worked independently on the project for nearly a decade, the Monopoly-like game — some suggest too Monopoly-like — which casts players in the roles of HP Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones. Rather than buy property, and build houses on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the “goal is to smash houses, open gates, and destroy the world.” With pledge incentives that included original art, pewter playing pieces and an afternoon of hosted gaming, the campaign rocketed past its original $30,000 target, with contributions 1,246 people.

kickstarter-doomDonors are now understandably upset, with some threatening legal action. However, the focus of much of their ire isn’t on the failure of Doom — that’s one of the pitfalls of Kickstarter, despite the website’s terms of use — but rather Chevalier’s explanation of how he spent at least part of the $122,000.

“From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds, with The Doom That Came to Atlantic City as only our first of hopefully many projects,” he wrote. “Everyone involved agreed on this. Since then rifts have formed and every error compounded the growing frustration, causing only more issues. After paying to form the company, for the miniature statues, moving back to Portland, getting software licenses and hiring artists to do things like rule book design and art conforming the money was approaching a point of no return. We had to print at that point or never. Unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards for a variety of reasons.”

But his original pitch didn’t say anything about the expenses of forming a new board-game company to launch other projects, or moving, or software licenses. “We were supporting and buying a product, not a lifestyle change for you,” one backer wrote. “You should be ashamed.”

Chevalier, who emphasized that Moyer and Baker “were not directly involved in this decision,” said, “My hope now is to eventually refund everyone fully. This puts all of the financial burden directly on my shoulders.”

Baker took to his own blog, explaining, “It’s a personal and financial blow to both of us, but what concerns Lee and I is that people who believed in our work and put their faith in this Kickstarter have been let down. [...] I would like to make one thing crystal clear. Lee Moyer and Keith Baker are not part of the Forking Path. Neither one of us received any of the funds raised by the Kickstarter or presales. I haven’t received any form of payment for this game. Lee and I were not involved in the decisions that brought about the end of this project, and we were misinformed about its progress and the state of the game.”

He said he and Moyer still believe in the The Doom That Came to Atlantic City!, pledging to backers that, “Lee and I will do our best to get you the game in print-and-play form as soon as possible.”

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Comments

11 Comments

I recently donated to my first kickstarter for Atomic Robo/Tesladyne gear. I know I’d be sad if it failed. But Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have stated that the reason they are having a kickstarter is to get funds to start an online store for Atomic Robo gear.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tesladyne/atomic-robo-needs-you-tesladyne-recruitment-drive

Jason McNamara

July 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

Not the first successful kickstarter whose reach exceeded their grasp. There clearly wasn’t a realistic plan to get this made for 30,000 much less 120,000. Per unit costs drop when quantity rises, the capital was clearly mismanaged. A lot of pre-planning and set up expenses have to be eaten before the launch of a successful kickstarter campaign.

His critics are right, they were not funding a company, they were funding a product. Making it an viable IP after the fact is not their responsibility. The best thing he could have done for the future of his game, and company, was make his backers happy. After they are satisfied, you start pre-selling to the public, not before. Those satisfied backers would have been the best promotion for an ongoing property.

This isn’t rocket science.

This guy Erik Chevalier is a jerk and people like him ruin Kickstarter for honest people. He used the money for personal gain, He should have made the product and that is that. Instead he used some of it to move? What? That is ridiculous. I hope he gets sued and loses it all.

This is a sad story but the odds are there will be many, many more. Kickstarter and its ilk are attracting a breed of wannabe entrepreneurs who have no real idea what they’re doing and think everything’s just as easy as it looks. Trust me, kids, it ain’t so, and a lot of people are going to have a lot of disappointment coming.

And honesty, even projects that are successfully funded, produced and released come with their own disappointments: at some point, you’ll be looking at the product and the thought will occur to you: “Really, I ‘donated’ (paid) actual money–for this? What was I thinking? This is stupid.”

Sounds like a good case of Dumb & Dumber to me. These guys clearly did not have the skills to pay the bill and wasted the donors money. They clearly were out of their league, trying to make a new board game with zero experience. If I was doing on Kickstarter it would be something as simple as working on a graphic novel and making sure that my donors would be getting their money’s worth.

Luckily not all Kickstarter projects end up like this ridiculous story about these idiots, like the Veronica Mars project. Now that is one Kickstarter project which I wished to have backed. The show was smartly written and just a fun detective tale with a modern day Nancy Drew character in Veronica Mars.

While I have contributed to one that didn’t get the funding to start., I haven’t contributed to one that failed yet, and I’ve contributed to over 12. You really have to see what they have ready and available, and whether it’s worth it. Is Cthulhu Monopoly worth investing in? No.

I’ve received 3 items from Kickstarter so far (2 books, one board game) and am waiting on 6 board games, 3 books (including the Atomic Robo), 1 technology item and Veronica Mars the movie. All of them (except the ones that haven’t ended and Veronica Mars) have overshot their estimated delivery dates, but the only one I had little confidence in was picked up by an actual publisher of other board games, so that lack of confidence has been erased.

You really should have more than just an idea before starting a Kickstarter. And if it is just an idea, make sure the backers know that.

Andrew Collins

July 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I’ve contributed to two Kickstarters so far, one for Steve Bryant’s Athena Voltaire and another for the recent Atomic Robo/Tesladyne project that others mentioned above. In both cases, I felt comfortable doing so because both creative teams were “known quantities” whose work I knew, loved, and trusted. I’m still waiting on the Atomic Robo book (which they’ve stated has an estimated ship date of October) but I have no doubt I’ll get it in a timely fashion and be very happy with it.

I’m not sure I’d be comfortable donating to a Kickstarter for a person or company I’ve never heard of…

He has been busy taking pictures and working on independent films!
Glad he has been a lynchpin to us earthbound folks.
http://www.behance.net/etchevalier
https://vimeo.com/etchevalier
http://www.modelmayhem.com/806009

I’ve donated to six projects in the last year. Never recieved any pledge reward. Stopped bothering after that. I know that most will be legit, but I’m turned off now. Would only donate to big names who have a good track record.

Stop using Kickstarter, it is a scam and learn how to invest your money and get an actual return, and you people wonder why you cant afford health insurance, because idiots keep giving their money away.
Oculus Rift people just got rich and owe all the people who actually funded the company next to nothing, so good luck with that morons!!!!!!!!

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