What happens when a Kickstarter takes the money and runs?

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MansionLord

Funding games on Kickstarter – or anything else, really – is a risk. They’re not investments, they’re not really pre-orders in anything other than ideas. They’re more akin to donations – which makes it rather disheartening when the people you’ve donated money to up and run.

That’s apparently what’s happened with Mansion Lord (via Kotaku). In 2013, the Kickstarter managed to raise over $30 000 to make the game, with an expected launch in August last year.

Mansion Lord combines a murder mystery business sim with tile-based world building and turn-based RPG combat. Build your mansion tile-by-tile, invite unscrupulous aristocrats to dinner, and, with the aid of your hired detectives, capture them for bounties after they slay the other guests. You can level up your detectives, equip them with hundreds of different weapons and accessories, and teach them a variety of skills. All in the name of profit!”

All in the name of profit indeed, as its creators seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth. For over a year, backers have tried to contact Kickstarter creators Golgom Games. They’ve not updated the Kickstarter page, their social media has dropped off, and their website’s even expired.

“We have tried contacting Kickstarter but were basically told tough luck it’s for you and the creator to work out,” one Mansion Lord backer told Kotaku’s Jason Schreier. “But they have given us no way to reach them.”

The reality of it is that $30 000 isn’t a lot of money when it comes to game development, and it’s likely team making the game couldnt afford to carry on. Not keeping backers informed though? Well, that’s just poor form.

Kickstarter themselves share none of this liability, meaning that unless the game suddenly comes out of hiding, backers have thrown their money away. There are protections in place for backers now, but they’re not retroactive, and weren’t around when this game was funded.  It’s a sad situation that, like the infamous CubeWorld saga, highlights the risks of crowd-funding, while also detracting from the wonderful games that have come from these sorts of funding models; Thomas was Alone, Divinity: Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, FTL, Elite Dangerous and Stasis – and the many more that we’ll get to play in the future.

Last Updated: September 30, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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