Reports are coming in that Erik Chevalier, the man behind one of the most high-profile Kickstarter game successes of 2012, The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, has admitted that he will never produce the game.
The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, created by Eberron designer Keith Baker and artist Lee Moyer, was a Monopoly-style game with a distinct Cthulhu flair. Described as “A light hearted Lovecraftian game of urban destruction,” the game invited players to take the roles of Great Old Ones in a race to be the first to destroy the world. The Kickstarter campaign launched May 7, 2012 with a $35,000 goal; by the time it closed on June 6, 2012 it had raised an astounding $122,874.
However, over the past 13 months, Chevalier has been releasing increasingly bleak progress reports, culminating in this post Tuesday:
This is not an easy update to write. The short version: The project is over, the game is canceled…
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… 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…
Predictably, the feedback from backers has been scathing.
In the comments section of Chevalier’s post RevBob wrote:
We’ve been given false information for several months, when the game was supposedly at the printer and production was ready to start Any Day Now. According to the update above, none of that was ever true; the game never even got to layout/prototype… I didn’t back this under the impression that the project was to form a company and then publish a game. I was led to believe that the company already existed, the game was ready, and they just needed to raise funds to print the initial run. I certainly didn’t expect to be paying someone’s moving expenses!
Critics have been pointing out the risks of Kickstarter for some time, especially for gaming companies.
Scott Taylor’s BG article “The Joy and Pain of Kickstarter [and How Backed Projects Still Fail]” examined some of the highest-profile Kickstarted games yet to materialize, and Joseph Bloch at Greyhawk Grognard recently produced his own “Kickstarter Update: Just the No-shows” list, with no less than 18 major MIA projects.
Scott also took a grim look at the poor business planning behind several recent Kickstarted games last month in his article “Kickstarter, it Really Shouldn’t be About the Stuff We All Get.”
The Doom that Came to Atlantic City had 1,246 backers, the majority of whom are unlikely to see any of their money back. As Glen Tickle at Geekosystem writes (in an article sub-titled “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits with all of your money. Good luck getting that back”):
Chevalier hints at the reasons for the cancellation, and promises a future update with the specifics. He also states his intention to refund all backers, but since he quit his job to launch the game company that would have published The Doom Blah Blah Blah, he currently has no way of doing that.
Given the lengthy (and growing) list of unrealized projects, it seems unlikely The Doom that Came to Atlantic City will be the last high-profile Kickstarter game failure.
It’s too soon to know if this will choke off the money supply for future Kickstarter gaming projects. Most likely, Kickstarter backers will simply become more picky with the projects they back, looking for a track record of success before plunking down their hard-earned money.