Horror Developer Makes ‘Hostile’ Kickstarter Update, Then Apologizes To Fans

Horror Developer Makes ‘Hostile’ Kickstarter Update, Then Apologizes To Fans
Image: Scorn

The creative director of upcoming horror/shooter game Scorn, Ljubomir Peklar, has issued an apology after an update he made to Kickstarter backers last week went horribly wrong.

In a statement posted to fans on November 6, ostensibly about the team’s decision to delay the HR Giger-inspired game, Peklar ends up writing 15 paragraphs which veer wildly from totally understandable explanations of the problems inherent in independent games development to off-hand calls for unhappy backers to simply ask for refunds for the game.

I don’t think the post, which you can read in full here, is that bad! The vast majority of it is devoted to honest and earnest explanations as to why the game has been delayed into 2022. He explains that they don’t have the bandwidth to release trailers and updates that would divert their attention from working on the actual game, and also touches on the idea of “development hell”, and how their inexperience has led to mistakes and the need to rework huge parts of the game (again, very normal game development stuff!):

Development hell is a term that is thrown around quite often. It should be used on projects that changed their core idea or scope mid-dev and can’t adjust to. That doesn’t apply to our products for the most part. In our case, a lot of mistakes were made and will make more in the future, but it’s a normal process for a new, inexperienced team. Everything that was done up until the middle of 2018 has been reworked, 90% of it completely scrapped. It’s about making it what we want it to be, not releasing it just because we gave some arbitrary release date. If it’s not ready, it’s not ready. Why would people want to play something that the developers think it’s still not up to par?

While Peklar’s tone is a little stand-offish throughout, the majority of the update reads like the frustrations of someone who is simply working hard on their game. Until you get to the very end:

For the record, yes, the game has slipped into 2022 and we will have an official confirmation of the delay on the 10th of December. It was supposed to be announced in October, but circumstances out of our control postponed it. If it turns out not to be on the 10th by our or someone else’s will, don’t hold it too much against us.

And for the end, a bit of friendly advice: If lack of communication is so bothersome just ask for a refund and be done with it. It’s just a game. You can play it when it’s out if you are still interested.

That did not go down well. Comments underneath the post quickly filled with backers taking Peklar up on his offer and asking for refunds. Here are some examples:

Over a year without any kind of update and then this “stop bothering us!” Post?

And your CEOs response is “sorry, wait 3 days and I’ll think about replying”?

I would like a refund.

To match the tone of the update…I expect a full refund today.

I’d like a refund please. That post was completely out of line. I not only back because of the game, I back the people behind it. If you’re going to not take any accountability and shift all this BS onto the consumer then il take my money elsewhere

And they just went on and on and on. Faced with a scenario where the development team were losing money over the Kickstarter update, Peklar posted a follow-up on November 7, in which he takes “full responsibility for the last update”, and admits “it was clear that the hostile tone it was written in should not be how we should express ideas or plans to people that help us out”.

Hello everyone,

My name is Ljubomir Peklar and I’m the CEO of Ebb Software and also the creative director of the game. I take full responsibility for the last update that you received from our KS yesterday. I quickly and haphazardly read through the draft of the update and in all my wisdom approved it. Reading through again it was clear that the hostile tone it was written in should not be how we should express ideas or plans to people that help us out. We may be tired, confused and frustrated at our own ineptitude, but there is no reason to lash out at you. For that I personally apologise. I will do my best for this kind of outburst not to happen again.

We will do a proper update regarding all the raised concerns on Monday,

Thank you.

Like I said, I don’t think the original post was that bad! But backers also had a very basic point, in that going a whole year without updates is not a good look from a campaign, and regardless of how well they can say they’re doing behind the scenes, those who have parted with money for a project should expect some kind of update now and again showing how things are going.

Hopefully both sides have learned a thing or two about the other and everyone can just get along until the game comes out, because what’s been shown so far looks pretty damn cool:

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