Successful $100,000 Kickstarter Dev Calls It Quits Due To Drama

Successful $100,000 Kickstarter Dev Calls It Quits Due To Drama

In 2014 nearly 4000 backers pledged $US100,000 for a silly game about being a bear. Yesterday, despite seemingly happy backers and 78 per cent positive reviews on Steam, Bear Simulator‘s developer says updating the game any further is “a lost cause”. I played John Farjay’s Kickstarted bear sim last weekend. While it could certainly use a lot more polish and tweaking, as a first game from an untested developer it’s pretty impressive. Not only did he manage to drum up enough interest in a silly concept to gather a large amount of cash to support development, his first game made it through Steam’s Greenlight program and onto the store proper, where it currently enjoys a “Mostly Positive” review average of 78 per cent.

That sounds like a success to me, which is why Farjay’s latest Kickstarter update was such a surprise.

Well the game didn’t have a great reception, has a stigma against it’s name and there’s plenty of other problems so making any updates or going further is basically a lost cause now. Plus not skilled enough to make the game better than it currently is or write better updates than previously.

Was really hoping the Steam release would go well but why would it, should have just gave the game to backers and not bother with Steam.

Also don’t want to deal with the drama anymore. Can’t ignore it because that causes more drama and can’t do anything about it because that causes more drama.

So why all the drama? For one thing, I wasn’t the only person who makes YouTube videos to notice Bear Simulator on Steam. Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg also played the game, and he did not like it at all.

His video review of the game ended with YouTube’s biggest celebrity giving the game developer the finger after attempting to get a Steam refund for it. The vid currently has more than 2.5 million views.

Despite the widely-viewed video, Bear Simulator still maintains a “Mostly Positive” average on Steam, though it’s not readily evident when browsing through user reviews. Though positive reviews from folks owning the game far outnumber the negative (currently 105 to 30), the negative reviews have received a massive amount of helpful ratings (users don’t have to own the game to mark a negative review as helpful), bringing them to the front of the page.

That’s not to say that the negative reviews are unwarranted. Several of them, including the current highest rated review, come from players identifying themselves as backers of the original Kickstarter project. As Steam member Tickler points out in the review below, Farjay’s Kickstarter communication hasn’t been stellar, and backers experienced long periods of silence over the course of development.

Successful $100,000 Kickstarter Dev Calls It Quits Due To Drama

I’m torn here. On one hand I feel bad for John Farjay, a first-time game developer whose cute idea took off unexpectedly and then had his sloppy but heartfelt work paraded about on about the most massive stage an independent PC game can find itself on. The negative Pewdiepie video isn’t alone in causing the wave of hate that seems to be cascading over Bear Simulator, but it certainly did not help.

Then again, criticism is part of the game development job. Just ask Cliff Bleszinsky.

Today’s PC gaming climate and the Steam platform give small developers more opportunities to get seen, but increased visibility isn’t always a good thing. Farjay put his product out there, and some people didn’t like what they played. Many enjoyed their time with Bear Simulator, but on the internet hate is almost always louder than love, especially when you focus on it.

I reached out to John Farjay for comment on this post, but so far he hasn’t responded. Considering his not wanting to deal with drama stance, I don’t expect him to.

Bear Simulator is not being abandoned. Backers received their game, as promised. Farjay plans a final update to add in a promised Kickstarter backer island into the game and work on any bug fixes or features backers request in the comments section of the update. Some of the stretch goals indicated in the Kickstarter campaign may not be fulfilled, which is a problem, but that’s between the developer and backers.

He wrote that he’s glad that many backers enjoyed the game (though he added “unless you were just being nice”), and thanked them for their positive feedback and encouragement.

The sentence he chose to close the update with is perhaps the most telling.

“Must be doing this PC game dev thing wrong because it is way too hard to stay happy and productive.”

I hope he sticks with the game. I had a bit of fun with it, general messiness and all, and the backer comments under the update are overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Sometimes you just have to power through the hate.

Farjay chimed up later in the comments section, and perhaps he’ll do just that.

OK, been in a really weird mood for a while now and cannot snap out of it. Has been really annoying and it shows. Need to get back to my original sarcastic self and stop being so complain-y.

Will try to make the next update funny and interesting.

Update (1pm, March 7): PewDiePie’s video has gone private since the posting of this article.

Update (2am, March 8): PewDiePie has tweeted a response to the situation.

Update (6am, March 8): PewDiePie made the video public once more, adding the following message to its YouTube description:

I originally took the video down yesterday after hearing the developer felt discouraged from getting harsh criticism. (Most likely not only from me).

Now, I’m not interested in making people feeling bad, so I took the video down..

But later after hearing he stopped developing games in total and gave up on this project, it kind of made me think I should keep the video back up. Obviously you don’t stop making games because of one person’s video, and me taking it down made it seem like that was the case to some people.

The video speaks for itself, but I do think it’s a shame he stopped making games.

I’ve been faced with very harsh criticism in my days online and I know it can be rough as hell.

But you can also learn from it, and grow from it.

By abandoning this game you’re letting the people who supported and who is supporting you down. Which isn’t really fair to them. There’s been plenty of times when I felt like quitting YouTube for example. But it just doesn’t make sense to do it, just because some people maybe don’t like it?

Although being public on the internet isn’t something everyone can handle, I get that.

Here’s to hoping the developer has a change of heart.

Take this video with a pinch of salt… like all my videos, honestly.


  • It can be hard if you let the haters roll over you, and it is difficult not to.
    Sounds like a guy finding his way through the current world of people not liking something so hating on it hard, I hope he finds a path through it that works for him.

    • A good friends daughter had a video go viral a few years ago, when she was a teenager. Fast forward a few years, and she’s managed to turn that into quite a successful social media career, with a million followers on FB, Twitter, and Instagram. Thats each. And about to start an acting career with one of the highest profile roles you could imagine.

      Anyhow, as a friend of the family (and her, I’ve known her since she was born), I follow her FB account and occasionally read the comments on her photos. And they disgust me at times.

      And it was while reading the depravity some people post on her pictures that made me realise that I could never deal with that level of attention. Which brings me back to here.

      It would be the same thing to me if I was the developer. This will have been something he would have put his heart and soul into, and given 100% to, so negative feedback will cut like a knife. A really sharp knife.

      I’ve tinkered with the idea of developing some small stuff myself, and its this sort of thing that puts me off. I just wouldnt handle the criticism. I really hope he keeps going, because I dont know if I could.

  • It sucks, but welcome to criticism – you can’t release something and not expect to get criticised if people don’t like it. This isn’t kindergarten and end users aren’t going to heap praise on something if they don’t like it. If they find problems they’ll point it out. The Steam community is especially toxic in this way and you have to expect that they’ll apply high standards to your product.

    And this isn’t a bad thing, because it helps weed out good games from bad games (usually). It might be that parts of this game just aren’t very good, and if that’s the case, the developer needs to take that on board. Indies don’t get a free ride with immunity from criticism – the amount of work or “heart” you put into a game doesn’t matter if the end result isn’t very good. Of course this is no reason for people to be pricks for no reason, but there seems to be valid criticism of the dev and the game here, so I can’t put it down to just trolling.

    Honestly it seems like the dev needs to put his shield up a bit more rather than lamenting the fact that some people don’t like his game. Some people won’t like this comment or will call me the devil incarnate for posting it, but I won’t lose sleep over it. Being an indie doesn’t exempt you from standards.

    • there is a difference between criticism and keyboard warrior techno heroes who just vomit all over forums.
      people forget the impact that words have on someone. there are two choices. build someone up, tear someone down. the majority of people who has access to internet forums and are active, tend to leave their responsibilities as human beings out of those rooms.

      you are not wrong though, the developer will need to to try and not take it to heart, but i guess its hard not to when you’ve just put 2 or 3 years into something like that.

      • Exactly this. Criticism is one thing, the bile-ridden hate-speak and often personal attacks really take their toll.
        It isn’t about being held to standards, it is the way it has seemingly become somewhat socially acceptable to be viscious, personal and often downright cruel when commenting/criticising on the internet and in forums. I have a ridiculously thick skin, I worked in production where the director would come in at 2am and tell you everything you just showed him was shit and would yell in your face. It wasn’t fun, but it was rare that it happened and it was usually when the director was under a ton of pressure. It sucked, but you sucked it up, did your best and got the work done.
        However I did some free restoration work and put it up on the net, and even though 90% of the feedback was really positive or at least constructive, the other tn percent was truly vile, personal and the people were relentless. If you engaged to try and get to the issue, it got worse, if you ignored itm it got worse. The relentlessness of it took its toll, I eventually pulled all work on the restoration, and after 6 months returned to doing it privately.

        Check out the comments he got, and remember he isn’t a big studio, just a guy doing his best, and generally working hard on getting the game out there and in good shape. The current climate of downright nasty commenting is aggressive, abusive and truly horrible (i.e. the people commenting on the game, not the comments here on this thread), and I really feel it needs to change.

      • I agree. Assholes on the internet spew vitriol for no other reason than to destroy people and be malicious. It’s out of control.

  • Bear with me here. I think there’s also a lesson here about early developers not taking on more than they can bear. Launch on one platform and do it well, but pick a platform intelligently. Do some research on the launch landscape so you don’t end up with this kind of situation. Get your bearings… It’ll bearly take 15 minutes.

    Steam Greenlight is pretty ruthless and its gamers unapologetic, so you have to have a pretty decent game to launch well on it.
    Kickstarter and other crowdfunding communities have communities who are actually passionate about projects they back, and are usually somewhat more forgiving, so as long as one lives up to their promises they won’t get mauled to pieces.

    Also, this “Pewdiepie” guy needs to take some responsibility for the failure of this game. His reach is vast and his overbearing opinions seem to carry a lot of weight (god knows why… on both counts, the guy is unbearable), so he needs to grow up and understand that he could ruin people with his stupid antics.

    Those are my observations though so take them as you will.
    Thanks for your forbearance.

    • I agree re pewdiepie, it is true of many reviewers, they may trash a game for laughs, but they really should have some sort of responsibility not to really shit all over something that doesn’t deserve it, it has a *huge* kick-on effect.

      You do need a thick skin to put your work out there, people are going to critique it, but by the same token, it has gotten so toxic now, I’m amazed anyone even tries any more.

    • I don’t watch nor do I like his stuff but regarding the Pewdiepie stuff I find it unfair that no one will criticise him when he praises a game launching it into popular culture(his fans culture) generating mass amounts of revenue and will only hate on him when he does the same thing but dislikes a game. Anything said about him can be said for any popular celebrity and developers and consumers need to hold themselves responsible for their decision making. Mob mentality is a weak excuse and should be applied here in my opinion.

    • For games yes, but seems to work well for physical goods… for the most part at least lol

  • US$100,000 for what, a years work… for one guy…? Yeah,… I’d take that gig. Then make sure my health insurance was topped up nicely, and go in for a decent bout of depression therapy, say… in Hawaii.

    Sorry but no sympathy here at all. I work in as a programmer (not gaming industry) and criticism is part of parcel of the job. Heck its part of most grown up jobs. My advise, grow up Farjay, and do the right thing by your backers, rather than having a nice little cry. You were organised enough to get a Kickstarter gig, so delivery what you promised.

    • Why do people still act like fundraising amounts are pure profit?

      I would be surprised if a third of that 100k went to pocket.

      • Well I never said it all went to his pocket – maybe I implied it,… fair point. But the money went “somewhere” didn’t it? He was ultimately responsible for it… I’m not sure that point is in question? Yeah I get that his take home pay wasn’t 100% of the money – but I don’t think it changes the fact it’s gone..?

    • so tell me Robnick, its part and parcel that this guy should accept personal attacks and constant hounding on top of criticism? are you fucking kidding me? are you sadistic? ive had personal experience with mental health issues, and my wife also, its not something you should just ‘accept’. we arent all the same mold. having the sort of pressure Farjay was experiencing can caus some pretty serious issues, pretty quickly. what you might be able to brush off, might make someone else suicidal. i cant believe how insensitive your comment is. yeah, i agree there is criticism, and that is ok, but most criticisms on a professional level, are not personal attacks. and at the end of the day, who do you answer to in your job? your boss and maybe some peers? Farjay was his own boss and answering to thousands of people. id love to see how well you would do in his situation, then tell people that there is no sympathy.

      • So much hate there skinja. What’s great is that we’re all entitled to our “sadistic” thoughts. I even get to read your thoughts – see that’s how it works. In regard to your last sentence – I live that every date mate.

        Lets look at it another way shall we? Lets say you had a contract, in lets say any industry. A contract to deliver a product in a reasonable period of time to a certain loose spec. And lets say you agree to do this for $100K. Then lets say, you decided you couldn’t do this because it all got too hard, and oh, you spent all the money. What do you think would happen in the big bad world… do you really think that he’s work again in said industry?

  • Sounds like the game wasn’t ready for release. He probably just wanted to push it out the door and then call it done.

  • (users don’t have to own the game to mark a negative review as helpful)

    This sounds to me like you’re criticising the system.

    If I’m looking to buy a game and a reviewer points out its many flaws….it is a helpful review in my eyes. No need for me to own the game for this to be valid.

      • You are right that not every person is the same, but unfortunately, a creator that puts out his creation in the public, must be ready for criticism, both the deserved and the undeserved kinds. It goes with the job position and if you are not thick skinned or don’t develop a thick skin, you will not be creating for long.

        I’m not saying that it is /right/ (though I hear much of the criticism is well-deserved,) I’m just saying that’s how it /is/.

        • but like i said in another comment. there is a difference between being hit with criticism, and then being hit with keyboard warrior troll vomit.

          but, yes, criticism is a positive thing, as long as it is not personal and its about the product. but i dont blame him for saying ‘fuck it all’ its gotta be a nightmare seeing 10 lots of hate for every 1 criticism.

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