Dr Horrible Board Game Kickstarter Cancelled Because It Didn't Get The Licence

A Kickstarter for a board game adaptation of Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog had looked to be going very well earlier this week, going 4x past its stretch goal in just a matter of days. Slight problem though: The game never had the Dr Horrible licence.

In a bizarre update on the game’s Kickstarter page, the CEO of Lucky Troll Games, Nicholas Engel, says “it was never my intent to hurt or deceive anyone”, before admitting that “I now know we should have explicitly and clearly stated that this product is currently unlicensed, and more importantly not gone into the Kickstarter in the current stages of licensing. As a new and overly enthusiastic board game creator I ask for your understanding and forgiveness.”

This is wild. It’s one thing to use a licence when designing a board game in private — people do it all the time, just for fun — but to take it to Kickstarter as a commercial product without official blessing is nuts.

“Attempts have been made and are being made to contact both the company who currently holds the rights to the IP, and Joss himself,” Engel writes. “They have a copy of the prototype and they have been informed of everything we have done.”

In addition to his inexperience, Engel also admits that “rushing to meet the [show’s] 10 year anniversary should not have been as important as securing the IP”.

The project has now been cancelled, and all 868 backers have been refunded their money. Amazingly, Engel is still upbeat about the whole thing, and is optimistic that the project can bounce back:

For those of you that have played the game, or are still willing and eager to play the game. I’m very sorry that you will have to wait a bit longer. We will go back to the drawing board and do this right. I can’t say how sorry I am for the miscommunication and more importantly for the distrust this brings, but please know that this is sincere and I’ve learned a lot from this.

Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a project born out of the big Hollywood writer’s guild strike, premiered in 2008. The show starred Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day. As of July 2018, it does not have a licensed board game adaptation.


    Can't they just rename to like Dr Terrible and change the char names abit and call it spiritual successor? :P

      Yes, I'm sure it will still be just as popular... IN THE BIZARRO-VERSE.

    Huh.. sounds like that whole attempt at a Talisman reprint ages back... also got cancelled coz they didnt have the license... was rather quite dodgy

    Seems to happen to Kickstarter a bit. There was a deckbuilding card game that got the same treatment. I think it was a Touhou one.

    This kinda boggles my mind. Even for a newbie game designer, if common sense didn't dictate to secure the licence before raising money, surely the constant stories of fan projects being shut down would have clued him in.

      I guess it falls into the usual dichotomy between wilful blindness/incompetence vs fraudulent conduct. Maybe there was a sprinkle of poor advice in there too. Perhaps they thought they had a pitch that was to good for the licence holders to refuse ... until the licence holders refused.

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