Famous Kickstarter Turns Into Complete Disaster

Were you one of the 9000 people who gave money to the Kickstarter for CLANG, a swordfighting game whose campaign was fronted by sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson? Then I'm sorry.

Despite hitting its funding goal of $US500,000 last year, development on the game is grinding to a halt, with Stephenson writing on the game's Kickstarter page that CLANG is now an "evenings and weekends" project because the money has run out, and many developers have sought contract work elsewhere.

But wait. That's not all. Turns out the money was never going to fund development of the game in the first place; the developers were simply using it as a starting point from which they could attract venture capitalist and/or publisher backing, which for whatever reason hasn't materialised.

While the team are sounding out options, a betting man would call this ambitious project - it was also looking at custom hardware - dead in the water.

Reminder: you are not a customer on Kickstarter. You are a tiny venture capitalist, taking tiny little risks every time you put your money down. Sometimes you win! Or, in cases like this, you lose.

The State of CLANG [Kickstarter]


    It's misleading to say kickstarter donors are venture capitalists, you aren't allowed to sell investment or offer dividends on that site.

    That's not legal, it was stated, and the purpose of kickstarter, that we need X amount to fund this game and make it a reality.

    They can't just turn around after the fact and say sorry we lied it was only 10% of what we needed we used you to attract other people and it failed.

    If i were one of the people who backed this I'd be beyond pissed. Hope someone sues them tbh, this crap is the reason I haven't backed a single kick starter and never will. (Every week its another big name kickstarter that needs more money or didn't turn out and any number of 50 excuses).

    Reminder: you are not a customer on Kickstarter. You are a tiny venture capitalist, taking tiny little risks every time you put your money down. Sometimes you win! Or, in cases like this, you lose.
    This is also false, while it may be the only comparison available, there are far more "rights" to backers than a real world VC. Unless there is some other information missing they have committed fraud and backers should be getting their money back.

      It's just classic risk vs reward. If you're gonna buy into one of these you've got to be prepared for the possibility of not seeing any return, regardless of the legality.

      Sorry, nope, you are not a tiny venture capitalist at all, you do not receive a stake in the company nor is there any agreement for promises of return. In fact the exact opposite is true you are promised *nothing* KS have gone about making it a little less risky, but most of that came after this anyway but the risk is still all on the backers.

      The KS info was misleading but in fact it is in no way illegal, this is why I only back anything I can put inconsequential amounts of money on and still get the product.

        Agree. People don't understand how these things work, which is also why not everyone SHOULD be an investor..

        That said, a lot of these projects seem entirely mismanaged; how you spend 500k and think its acceptable to have nothing to show for it...

          I should have clarified, i ment within KS terms of agreement/contract or what ever else.

          They aren't allowed to partial fund a project, its all or nothing. The fact they lied and mis represented what people were backing on is in fact fraud. What happens as a result i do not know.

          Yes but KS terms especially the recent "Risk Prevention/Accountability" (which I might add have been in use since last year) states that a KS creator is responsible for the fulfillment of their promise.

          Also the procedures for Risk and Accountability says that they are meant to give full disclosure on *what* the funds are to be used for. You can't say we need X dollars to create this game. And then say oh we weren't going to use it for the project... we were going to use it for finding a publisher. If they are using the funds to get a publisher then they *NEED* to say thats what the funds are for. Not say its for "development"

          Besides it annoys me because it's terrible KS projects like this that literally craps on other projects (big name and independant) that will now get less coverage/backing because of a bigger skepticism in the system.

            Ok.... I really should know by now to watch the KS vid first before jumping to conclusions when it comes to KS headlines here at Kotaku...

            After watching the intro vid. I'd have to say that while it's regrettable that the project has "stalled" it's not really something I would be throwing pitchforks and whatnot over for. The vid and intro clearly states they wanted to start out w/ some tools/dev sets for swordfighting controls which they hopefully would lead onto a full game.

            So yes folks you *WERE* backing a control concept. Now if you didn't pay attention to the concepts and explanation then you really shouldn't be pledging in KS =/

            "projects like this that literally craps on other projects"

            You have literally no idea how to use the word literally.

              I hate to tell you mate, but the dictionaries gave up on trying to correct people and accepted that language is fluid and changes with time. The current Merriam-Webster entry Definition of LITERALLY

              1: in a literal sense or manner : actually (took the remark literally) (was literally insane)
              2: in effect : virtually (will literally turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or injustice — Norman Cousins)
              Usage Discussion of LITERALLY

              Since some people take sense 2 to be the opposite of sense 1, it has been frequently criticized as a misuse. Instead, the use is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.

              Last edited 23/09/13 4:29 am

      Firstly two points.
      1. They have not committed fraud, they have failed to deliver their project so far. Read terms and conditions of kickstarter. Fraud would need to be proven first. That they deliberately intended not to deliver.
      2. Kickstarter makes no apologies to backers for incompetent project management. Your job as a backer is to assess the worth of a project and wear the risk.

      I have backed nearly 50 projects on kickstarter and only about 90% of them have eventuated. I don't resent the 10% that failed and I don't want a refund. They took a chance on a creative idea and it didn't pan out. That's great! Hopefully they learnt from it. I don't want them working their asses off to pay me back when they could be working on a new project with the gained experience.

      The pervading culture of never making mistakes is terrible. It saddens me that so many backers have me me me entitlement attitudes. Its because of people like that in the publishing business that we needed kickstarter in the first place.

        I like the cut of your jib, squawkly.

    I'm a backer and I'm not upset. As a I recall they were quite upfront that they had plans for a series of games, or multiple versions with increasing scope. They did bring out an initial beta version for backers, which was pretty much the initial game that they had promised on KS. It's disappointing where the project is at, but I feel like they have acted in good faith. And unlike the crybabies on KS I am aware that even $500K is not a huge amount of money for trying to make a brand new style of game.

    Reminder - Kickstarter isn't a pre-order system.

    On this, I recall that their game was planned to be fairly bare-boned in any case. Neal was planning to make the engine or whatever structure they had able to be licensed for other studios to put together sword based games.

    But in any case, I gather it's still being worked on, but far more slowly. It'd dropped off the radar after their (fairly epic) video so maybe this not-so-good publicity will bring it to some investor's attention...

    Reminder: you are not a customer on Kickstarter. You are a tiny venture capitalist, taking tiny little risks every time you put your money down. Sometimes you win! Or, in cases like this, you lose.No, you are a person putting a coin into a begging man's cup, hoping that his promise of using it to better his life and maybe paying you back one day is genuine. Although, that being said, Kickstarter is slightly different to that analogy in that it provides a little more accountability on the creator's behalf if they cannot make good on the rewards offered.

    Last edited 21/09/13 7:33 pm

    I was one of the 9,000 or so who backed this game on Kickstarter. I've read a few articles like this one since the latest CLANG update was sent out, and the comments sections attached.

    My impression is most who pledge do appreciate there is risk, and they understand they are not customers. Sure there are bound to be some vocal exceptions, but give people some credit!

    In addition, I knew the Kickstarter money was seed money when i pledged. Anyone who read the proposal would have.

    My point; little in this article should come as news to backers.

    If it says down the side under the 'rewards' that if you pay say $20 to back the project that you WILL get a copy of the game and they don't deliver, then that is bullshit.

    This effectively changes the process from 'investing' to 'pre-ordering' which is completely different.

    Investing in something that may or may not get off the ground is a gamble, you may lose that money or you may triple it, either way you know the risks before you go all in. Pre-ordering is paying for something before it's finished in order to get the product (game/tshirt/whatever) at the earliest possible date.

    KS terms and conditions may state whatever it likes, but the fact is if you hand over money and are told that you WILL be getting something for that money and the company/individual doesn't deliver then that is bullshit. They are saying you will get it and if they don't use the money properly then it's up to them to fix the situation however they can and get people the shit they paid for.

    This really sucks as someone who is running a Kickstarter they should have know better, Kickstarter take you through a heap of information around your lability if you can't deliver. This falls into the basket of Kickstarter's run by Hollywood Studios that can easily fund the movie etc.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now