Games Like Project Phoenix Ruin Kickstarter For Everyone Else

Kickstarter, a polarising crowdfunding website that has become a useful tool for aspiring game developers, should maybe reconsider its policy on helping backers of failed projects get their money back. Otherwise, games like Project Phoenix will keep hurting crowdfunding for everyone.

In 2013, a Japanese composer named Hiroaki Yura raised over $US1 million ($1.3 million) for Project Phoenix, a game that he wrote "will set a new standard of excellence for the Japanese gaming industry". It promised to be the product of Japanese and Western talent including the legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu, among other superstars. Four years later — and you probably know where this one's headed — Project Phoenix is nowhere to be found.

In 2015, the game's creators admitted that it was nowhere close to being finished, promising a new release date of 2018. And earlier this week, the Project Phoenix team put up a new update that says, among other things:

We expect to make our backers happy will require higher quality assets and more programmers. To this end we stopped investing the returns from our music business into art assets and instead drove them into a different smaller production, with further assistance from private investors. Should this tiny product succeed those private investors have promised to invest significant capital into Project Phoenix. In this way we have been able to expand our in-house development staff and work towards a bright future for Project Phoenix. Instead of financing salaries and running costs out of Project Phoenix we have been building a team out of the budget of this tiny project. Work has continued on Project Phoenix, but only things for which budget existed. If you have been wondering why the past few months have had lots of story updates, that is the reason why. We are very excited for this tiny project which will be announced in May. It is fun to play and we are proud of that.

Should it hit the success we are hoping for it will set our team in a position to deliver Project Phoenix anything we had hoped for. This is not a plea to support that project, please consider it but understand it is not Project Phoenix.

In other words, just like the disastrous Final Fantasy Tactics spiritual successor Unsung Story, Project Phoenix is never happening. Which is a shame. Although this campaign always seemed shady to me — too many sketchy claims and lofty promises — it's a bummer that 15,802 backers will never get their money back.

Way back in 2012, when games like Pillars of Eternity and what was at the time called the Double Fine Adventure shattered Kickstarter records, we all thought that Kickstarter could revolutionise the video game industry. And to some extent, it has — without Kickstarter, we wouldn't have Shovel Knight, FTL, Divinity: Original Sin and many other successful games. But high-profile failures like this can leave a whole lot of people feeling burned, to the point where they won't put much faith in future Kickstarter projects. Which sucks for everyone.


    I've funded a few things. Been hit and miss so far.
    Board/card games have been good and a movie.
    Another movie is in total limbo (Sky Sharks) but I really hope it gets made, the idea is too funny to die.
    And znaps - put a bit into that but not expecting anything at all to come of it, at least not what they promised. That money is gone, but I guess that is the nature of the beast.

    This is (looking like - I still have hope) my second big KS failure. It's been so long and I've lost interest so I can't even remember how much I pledged exactly but it wasn't insignificant. Unfortunately, I've had to learn the hard way when it comes to KS and though I accept the risk involved, I think I'll probably steer clear from now on. There's just not enough to be gained by backing anything which eventually sees a retail release anyway.

    So the point of this article is? ummm... that every prominent Kickstarter must be a success otherwise this "ruins Kickstarter for everyone else"?

    Me thinks that you might be somewhat missing a fairly significant distinction between preordering a nearly finished, guaranteed game, and speculatively funding potential future games in order to improve the odds that the game might happen at all.

      I think the article made allusion to the disturbing trend of KS games getting big dollars invested, then suddenly they sprout two or three more minor the detriment of the initial KS project.

      As in they suddenly got some money, and decided to spend in other areas besides that of the KS project.

        There is no evidence of any kind of trend here, and certainly none established by this article.

        Furthermore, there is nothing 'sudden' about a project running out of money after five years and thereafter needing to produce something else in order to continue paying the bills - in fact, it's entirely predictable.

        The allusion in your comment seems to be that there might be some kind of fraud going on here, yet we have seen no evidence whatsoever to suggest that this situation might be anything other than the case of a developer with more enthusiasm than they have project management skills or business acumen.

        edit: damn. correcting one typo and I go in the moderation black hole. Why offer an edit function if even tiny edits cause your posts to be flagged?

    Kickstarter is fine, people just need to consider what they are backing
    This is a case of saying they had superstar AAA talent across a range of industries and that it could be delivered for $100,000.
    They listed 20 people on the team page which means on average 20,000 for each person. Around 30% of that goes in kickstarter fees and the like I think so you are down to $14,000 per person. All this for a project that had nothing but concept art to show.
    To add to the red flags they make claims like it is going to be an entirely new way to make games, which is another way of saying this type of development hasn't been proven to deliver a game.
    It wasn't doomed to fail, but it was very likely to fail

    But on topic of kickstarter doing something what could they possibly do here. It seems like it was a legitimate project, not a scam so they can't block it there. They don't have anywhere near enough revenue from this to refund backers. Those funds have been released to the development studio.

    Video game projects themselves ruined Kickstarter in a way. By including the game as a reward, they gave people the impression that Kickstarter was like Etsy. You pay for someone to make something, you get that thing in return. It's not like that though, you're giving someone money to try and realise a project and they have said they'll give you something as a reward in thanks.

    Stories like this should only serve to remind people that they need to be more cautious about where they put their money. Investors don't just throw their money around willy nilly, (if they're smart) they want to see business and marketing plans, guarantees of success, risk analyses and contingency plans should things go wrong. You should approach Kickstarter in the same way and consider whether the project is feasible. Ask yourself if you think these people can deliver. Analyse the risk of putting in money you may never see again and pay attention to the failed projects. If the one you are about to back seems to be going down the same path, maybe you should reconsider.

      > You should approach Kickstarter in
      > the same way and consider whether
      > the project is feasible.
      Not if you are a head programmer or director of some big game projects. Most people prob don't have the ability to make the judge imo.

    But high-profile failures like this can leave a whole lot of people feeling burned, to the point where they won't put much faith in future Kickstarter projects. Which sucks for everyone.

    Enh. The investor pool needed to be shrunk, and the perception of kickstarter backing as a glorified pre-order needs to be dispelled.

    It sucks that Kickstarter ISN'T a sure-fire pre-order system, of course... in much the same way that it sucks that too many devs think that the absence of a publisher also means the absence of good financial planning and project management.

    It also sucks that devs routinely low-ball their goal because they want to get SOME money, even if it's not what they need, in the hope that early-access purchases or last-minute angel investor funding will get them over the finish line.

    And it sure does suck that people seem to think that stretch goals has led to some weird exponential expectation system where funding millions of dollars more than the half-mill asked for results in people thinking that the extra funding needs to be spent ONLY on the game, creating unreasonable expectations, instead of the excess being treated for what it is: pre-orders and a safety net.

    It also sucks that people grow old and die, I guess.

    I've backed only 1 KS project that has taken the money and ran, so far of the 28 that I've backed. Confederate Express was that project. They asked for an amount which they received + knocked off numerous stretch goals. Then the KS came to an end and all we got besides a thank you, was silence for the next 6 months. Then we got 1 update saying that the project was on hold, and that the funds were being funneled into another game they wanted to make.

    Soon after it was revealed that they started another KS project. When backers became aware, you can guess as to the result and that other project soon after disappeared. We've not heard a word from the developer ever since.

    People lost money essentially gambling. Big whoop.

    The first and only project I backed was Project Phoenix end it was an experience so unpleasant, with so many ridiculous excuses and updates that seems more like spam for other projects, that I probabily won't back anything else.

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