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One theme we're hearing way too often from Kickstarter projects is one of fraud. This week, backers exploded (and rightly so) as a funded project was canceled after the fundraiser spent all of the money on NOT publishing the game.
The Forking Path company requested $35,000 to publish "The Doom That Came to Atlantic City," a board game that was virtually complete, just not published. The company raised over $122,000 on June 6, 2012, greatly surpassing their original goal. Now that it's been over a year, the board game still hasn't been published, and the owner of The Forking Path, Erik Chevalier, claims that all of the money has been spent, so there will be no game.
From his last update, Chevalier seems to have spent all of the money on starting up his company and moving said company to Portland, Oregon. No one else has seen any money, including any artists he claimed to have talked to and, sadly, the game's creators. However, even though all of the money is gone, Chevalier did try to give all of the backers some hope that he will refund everyone...eventually.
Chevalier has been reported to the Oregon Department of Justice for fraud, and as one can imagine, he has also been threatened with a series of lawsuits from backers. He of course urged everyone to not sue him, as this means all of the money he is saving to reimburse backers will go to legal fees. Somehow, at this point, I don't think the backers care about getting their money back. From the comments, many just want to make sure Chevalier isn't able to do this to another Kickstarter project or other game designers again.
One of the game creators, Keith Baker, has retrieved a list of the backers from Chevalier and will be sending each backer a copy of the game they can print themselves. It's not what the backers originally supported, but it's incredibly nice of Keith to be willing to give away any version of his game for free.
Who knows if Chevalier's claims of where the money went are true, and who knows if he really was honorable in all of his dealings regarding this board game. Maybe he really did have the best of intentions and he failed miserably. Maybe he really was out to scam everyone. Either way, I can't help but wonder if some of these independent game publishers get in over their heads with these projects due to lack of experience, knowledge, and know-how. It's also valuable lesson for future backers to accept the possibility that they may be throwing their money to the wind, and therefore donate what they're willing to lose when funding projects headed up by individuals or new companies.
I have never donated to a Kickstarter project, and this is one reason why I haven't. I know several people who have backed projects successfully with no problems, but there just hasn't been anything out there for me that's worth possibly losing money.
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