In 2013, game producer Keiji Inafune earned gamers' hearts worldwide by promising to bring back Mega Man in the form of Mighty No. 9. Two years later, he's launched a sloppy, misleading new Kickstarter that threatens to squander all that goodwill.
Red Ash, which took to crowdfunding earlier this month with promises of launching a successor to the beloved Mega Man Legends series, has been a disaster from the start. There was confusion over whether this campaign was for a full game or a prologue; there was a great big mess when the campaign organisers promised a console port but wouldn't say which console; and few fans were happy when they launched a simultaneous second campaign to collect even more money for a companion anime based on the game.
Now, with four days left and just under $US500,000 raised out of their $US800,000 goal, the Red Ash team has a new update: turns out they have got a publisher (the Chinese game company FUZE) and they're going to publish the game no matter what. If the Kickstarter is funded — which at this point seems unlikely — all of that money will go toward stretch goals. What kind of stretch goals? Says the update (emphasis mine):
The Kickstarter campaign is going 100% towards more content! Consider your pledge a contribution to stretch goals from here on out.
Exactly what are those stretch goals? We're sorry to say that will have to wait a little while longer! Like we said, we're very busy with many behind-the-scenes things over here, and we apologise if you feel left in the dark. As you can see, the things we have brewing that are keeping us occupied are BIG, and all for the purpose of getting you RED ASH in its biggest, bestest form. That's the reason we're less communicative than we'd like to be!
We know we're in the final days of our campaign, but we'd like to ask fans to continue their support of RED ASH! Your money is going towards 100% content now, so please look forward to the revised "stretch goals"!
In other words: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you think this is all sketchy — and you're wondering how a Kickstarter campaign can suddenly shift from "we need this money to fund the game" to "this is now for stretch goals!" — you're not alone. When I reached out to Kickstarter this morning, a rep told me that this wasn't in violation of their Terms of Service, even though it appears to violate at least the spirit of rule #2: "Projects must be honest and clearly presented."
I reached out to Comcept for clarification on how this publishing deal had happened and got back the following statement, from a spokesperson:
Inafune met FUZE at E3 this year, but they approached them only after the KS started. Comcept wanted to make Red Ash no matter what, so if the Kickstarter failed, they would find a different way. They were hoping to entice investors with the attention they were getting from the KS, even if it failed. They didn't necessarily try to hurry up the deal since the KS was still at 50% for some time. The timing happened to work out nicely and then we made the announcement. The timing really wasn't up to them, it was in the investor's court. And the [stretch] goals will go out before the KS's end for sure.
So now, whether or not Red Ash is funded, the game will happen. Comcept is promising an eight-hour game — The KalKanon Incident — that will be published for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It says that even though it's getting funding from FUZE, it's keeping all the rights to the game and characters.
If you've never heard of FUZE before, its website is quite an adventure. The Chinese-based company says they're working on new gaming hardware — "coming soon" — and its pages are full of bizarre digs at Microsoft and Sony:
Pretty funny that they're now helping publish Red Ash for both PS4 and Xbox One.
Meanwhile, today Comcept released a speedrun of the opening level for Mighty No. 9, which is currently slated for release in September. It looks... rough.