The most important thing to look for in a Kickstarter isn’t a cool pitch video or an impressive roster of talent. It’s someone who knows how to manage money.
Here, following our look earlier this year at 12 Kickstarter projects that were funded but never came to fruition, are nine more crowdfunded projects that took people’s money and didn’t deliver. From retro platformers to RPGs by respected authors, the following projects represent hundreds of thousands of dollars that simply fizzled.
(If you know of any other disappearing Kickstarters that we haven’t yet covered, please e-mail me.)
Earned: $12,067 AUD
Funded: December 24, 2013
Estimated Delivery: February 2014
Pitched as a retro-inspired platformer with a Bionic Commando-like grappling mechanic, Grapple Knight looked pretty rad, but has yet to actually happen. The project’s creators stopped posting updates in July of 2014, leaving fans and backers scratching their heads and wondering just what was going on. When reached by Kotaku, designer Gonzalo Araya said he’s still working on the game and that he ran into a setback after a falling out with one of the lead artists.
“We haven’t been updating our backers about the situation out of shame more than anything,” Araya said. “I guess in a roundabout way of putting it, life happened, it kicked us down and it’s taken a while to pick ourselves back up, but we aren’t quitters or thieves and sooner or later we will deliver because we are all gamers, we love games and the community that has tried to help us with ours, and we want to find the perfect way to return the favour, it’s just taken longer than we hoped.”
Funded: July 6, 2012
Estimated Delivery: October 2012
“Things are not going well,” wrote author Rick Dakan in a Kickstarter update on March 5, 2013, outlining some of the problems he faced while trying to put together the turn-based horror game Haunts: The Manse Macabre. “I still hope for some kind of Haunts something, but there’s no longer an obvious path from here to there.”
Dakan, a veteran writer and designer who co-founded Cryptic Studios in 2000, offered to issue refunds to the best of his ability, but the game never happened and likely never will. Dakan did not respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE (12/14): Dakan sent an e-mail response after the publication of this article, noting that he had given refunds to everyone who asked. “The project failed for technical and financial reasons, which I explained in detail at the time, but which is not up online anymore since I could no longer afford to keep the company website up and took it down earlier this year when I was let go from my last job,” Dakan said.”
Funded: November 9, 2012
Estimated Delivery: February 2013
It’s been a year and a half since the last (backer-only) update for iBeg, a game that was pitched as a simulator of homeless life in Vancouver. It’s been over a year since they updated their Twitter account. But you can still donate on their website! The creators of iBeg did not respond to a request for comment.
Funded: December 30, 2011
Estimated Delivery: April, 2012
Although Quantum Role-Playing Game earned more than triple its initial goal of $13,000, the tabletop game appears to be no more. Creator Joshua Frost and artist Hugo Solis engaged in a nasty public finger-pointing match, with Frost eventually declaring in May of 2014 that the game wouldn’t be happening. “The project is dead, no longer has a timeline, and has no plans to resume,” he wrote. The creators did not respond to a request for comment.
Funded: March 30, 2012
Estimated Delivery: October, 2012
Credit to the creators of Auditorium 2: Duet; the pitched Auditorium sequel is over three years late, but at least they haven’t gone MIA. They say they’ve given out all of their rewards—other than the game itself—and they’ve been posting semi-regular updates, even if there’s still no indication that this colorful puzzler will ever actually happen.
“At this point, we are absolutely planning to continue work on Duet,” creative director Will Stallwood said in an e-mail. “But, giving updates to an increasingly angry audience has been making development considerably harder on us... We’re very much at a crossroads and trying to figure out what the hell we can do. We are in a terrible position, but I’d like to think how we handle ourselves when we are down is what defines us. The future is still not written.”
Funded: May 6, 2012
Estimated Delivery: May, 2013
Why is it always the cool-looking JRPGs that fail? Thanks to personnel changes and an inexperienced team that got in way over their heads, the once-promising role-playing game Echoes of Eternia is still MIA. At this point, designer Jeremy Hill appears to be going at it himself, posting the occasional lonely update on Reddit. Things seem grim for this one. The creators didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Funded: September 22, 2012
Estimated Delivery: April, 2013
After raising over $33,000 for a beat’em up video game in partnership with the Maryland-based anime convention Otakon, creator Dave Lister went MIA (although he’s still active on Twitter). In July of 2014, Otakon announced that they had cut ties with Lister and his studio. Will backers ever see their money again? The creators did not respond to a request for comment.
Funded: May 6, 2012
Estimated Delivery: July, 2012
In 2012, webcomic artist Chris Hastings announced a Kickstarter for a game based on his cartoon, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. In September of 2013, the creators announced that the game would be on hiatus for four to six months. In December of 2015, it’s clear that this one ain’t happening. The creators didn’t respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE (4:30pm): A few hours after this article went live, artist Alisa Tana wrote me an e-mail that you can read here. “We were foolish and bit off WAY more than we could chew,” she wrote. “We made so many mistakes and I regret almost all of them, but I have learned so much more than I would have otherwise. There is little that a homeless artist can offer in the way of a refund to our backers, other than a sincere apology.”
Funded: November 20, 2013
Estimated Delivery: June, 2014
This might be one of the biggest scams in Kickstarter’s history—although Confederate Express creators Maksym and Denys Pashanin only raised $39,739 for what they described as an isometric survival game, news soon came out that the brothers were also notorious Airbnb squatters who have sued multiple landlords and taken over a Palm Springs condo without paying rent.
Less than a year after launching their Kickstarter for Confederate Express—which never happened—the Pashanin brothers put up another Kickstarter for a game called Knuckle Club. Kickstarter quickly suspended it. The brothers did not respond to a request for comment.