Celebrity esports team FaZe Clan is taking heat for co-producing a video game that, over a year after its targeted launch date, remains unreleased. Backers donated nearly $US20,000 ($26,068) to first-person shooter Starnet Eclipse, which critics are now calling a scam, an allegation FaZe Clan denies.
In January of 2015, FaZe Clan announced they were co-producing Starnet Eclipse with iCazual Entertainment, a new development studio. Headed by a 19-year-old CEO, UK-based iCazual Entertainment says it employs 70 people. The "futuristic FPS" was allegedly being built for Xbox One, PC, PS4 and Mac. To fund Starnet Eclipse, FaZe Clan solicited donations from their millions-strong subscriber base in a YouTube video titled "WE ARE MAKING A VIDEO GAME." They added that backers would receive "perks" for donating.
Accompanying FaZe Clan's announcement was a minute-long teaser trailer, which, they explained, came out of four years of previous development.
"Anything you want in Call of Duty. . . you can get in this game," Thomas "FaZe Temperrr"Oliveira said in the announcement. The game would feature FaZe Clan members as characters. Excitement ensued.
On May 20, 2015, iCazual released an alpha trailer. It featured a basic, template-style FPS made with Unreal Engine. ICazual promised June 5 as an alpha release date for backers and June 27 as the finished game's launch. (Confusingly, on Twitter last January, Starnet Eclipse said their full release would be closer to late 2015).
A "limited time offer" advertised it for $US18 ($23). On Starnet Eclipse's website, the alpha, beta and full copy for PC/Mac still goes for $US30 ($39). Fans could buy different "packs" for the game, however, including a $US300 ($391) "Major Pack," which includes game access, a gold-gilded model and a number of other apparel items (the highest "pack" cost is the $US25,000 ($32,585) "Enfield Pack," which includes dinner with FaZe Clan and iCazual).
A "pre-alpha" was released to backers in June, 2015. The beta, they then said, would come in the summer of 2015. The full game would now be scheduled for early 2016. Here's what the alpha looked like:
By the time early 2016 rolled around, backers began asking more questions. On Twitter, Starnet Eclipse started telling fans that there were no dates set for beta. Then, they told fans there was no set release date. In mid-April, Starnet Eclipse said that "there will be at least one version of the game released this year," still volleying questions about whether the game was still being developed at all.
Today, the status of Starnet Eclipse is unclear to the public. Between May 25th and September 5th, the game's Twitter account stopped updating, although they continued to address backer questions. As of September 2016, iCazual still hasn't announced a final release date for their game.
Starnet Eclipse drew wide attention this week when the YouTuber HonorTheCall posted a video on Monday about the game. HonorTheCall has been following the FaZe Clan for a while; in the past, he's made videos about FaZe Clan members' connections to CS:GO gambling. In Monday's video, he described Starnet Eclipse as "shady," pointing out discrepancies between the game's promises and realities. The missed deadlines, combined with the high price of alpha, he said, point to it being a scam.
"It's safe to say that FaZe Clan should return all the money back to their fan base," HonorTheCall said in the video.
FaZe Clan's Nordan "FaZe Rain" Shat posted a video shortly afterwards titled "We didn't scam ANYONE," in which he attempts to defend himself. $US20,000 ($26,068), he says, isn't enough to make a game. He stressed that games take a long time to make, but does not address that the game was allegedly in development for years. FaZe Rain added that he didn't "fully remember the full situation" when it came to backer rewards. He also notes that he's known iCazual's CEO since he was 15.
Neither FaZe Clan nor Starnet Eclipse's developer iCazual Entertainment returned requests for comment.
Starnet Eclipse's development team said yesterday they are issuing refunds. To ameliorate concerns that the $US20,000 ($26,068) in backing money had been wasted, a Google Doc explains that iCazual Entertainment has been upgrading their office and creating new development teams. "Unreal Engine is by no means easy to master," they added, citing bugs. Soon, they said, Starnet Eclipse will be launching another crowdfunding campaign.
The developers say they will announce a new schedule for Starnet Eclipse on October 29. In early 2017, they say they will start shipping t-shirts to backers.