Board Game Kickstarter Shuts Down After CEO Allegedly Flees Country And Bankrupts Company

If you needed a reminder that crowdfunding projects are always risky, then here's a tale for you.

Solar City was a sci-fi board game that put players in charge of designing a futuristic city in 2035. It had a strong renewable theme to it, awarding points for building photovoltaic panels, activating wind turbines, and making a environmentally sustainable place to live.

It raised just over $95,000 ($US67,929) in June last year, and after a delay that saw the company "very close to bankruptcy", the company has since announced that it has gone completely under, allegedly due to its president fleeing the country.

In one of the most salacious updates posted to a Kickstarter campaign, someone behind the Solar City project wrote that the president of Games Factory, who also oversaw all logistics, production and finances, had fled and not informed the other director of the company's dire financial situation:

Before we explain to you everything, we are forced to announce that the BGCK and Solar City campaigns, despite our best efforts, will not come to fruition.

We are very sorry that everything ends like this. We know that you entrusted us and apologies are not enough to make you feel how sorry we are, but that's all we can do in this situation.

In the first week of February the president of our company (and also the person who was responsible for all the finances, production and logistics) resigned and fled the country.

As a result, the remaining director began to learn about the monstrous mass of shortcomings, debts, inaccuracies and lies that were hidden.

Until the beginning of February, we were running normal, everyday activities in the company, not knowing about it’s real situation and about the financial issues that are going back to the beginning of 2018.

We had a budget for the coming year, a plan for the premieres and production of new games and projects, and also a plan for refunds for the BGCK campaign, made for the whole year.

It's not the first rumblings of trouble within the company. Back in Feburary, a post on the Games Factory Facebook page revealed that the company was out of funds, and unable to pay out invoices on existing work. One of the co-creators took to YouTube earlier this month, announcing that the Solar City project would still be released - but only in Polish.

The reason it was being released in Polish was because the co-authors, Marcin Ropka and Viola Kijowska, founded a new publishing group capable of handling domestic distribution. They can't ship the game internationally, but they're still looking for a partner that can help out there.

For Games Factory, it's over, and as far as they're concerned, it's over for backers as well.

At the beginning of February everyone in GF - other member of the board and employees - even received the deadline for picking up the game: mid-March. It turns out to be untrue - the production was not paid and was withdrawn from printing house’s schedule. The company has no means to complete production or refund. The work of many people lasting over a year and your commitment has been wasted.

It is a very difficult situation for us - every day we discover new lies, manipulations and debts. Our employees remain penniless and with unpaid invoices for their work. We apologise to you very much.

"We never thought that as gamers and game enthusiasts we will find ourselves in this situation," they wrote.

You can read the full Kickstarter update here. It's quite the doozy. Fingers crossed Solar City makes it to our fair shores one day.


Comments

    A tale of how one man runs and leaves customers furious at the passionate people that wanted this project to happen. I hope he feels guilty.

    I've gotten burned only once so far on Kickstarter and gotten a few things funded. Still waiting on Sky Sharks though, that one is taking awhile if it is indeed happening.

    I have to hand it to Chris Roberts. In the face of the train wreck that is Star Citizen / Squadron 42 development, he hasn't abandoned ship. This tells me that he is delusional, rather than cynically avaricious.

    I've backed 105 projects on Kickstarter and half a dozen more on other crowdfunding platforms.

    Having a look back through my backed list I can see some absolute classics including Factorio, Rimworld, Grim Dawn, Night in the Woods, Parkitect, Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville,
    Divinity: Original Sin, and a pretty impressive collection of isometric RPGs.

    Of those I've backed there's 10 or so that'd I consider either outright abandoned or someone ran off with the money, and maybe another 10 launched but generally awful and unfinished (Godus, I'm looking at you).

    So, something like 20% great, 20% a write-off and 60% perfectly adequate or still under development.

    On balance, I feel that I've got my money's worth, and PC gaming in general is in a much healthier place overall than it would otherwise have been without the crowdfunding boom.

    It's definitely hard to tell what's going to end up in your hands or not, especially since many of these projects make the same promises and assurances!

    I think backing relies mostly on intuition. Are they promising too much? Does it make business sense? I've supported 67 projects, and I've only had one yet to deliver (ironically, the first project I had backed). Overall, my experiences have been positive and I think KS has been a fantastic resource for both developers and consumers.

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