Have you ever backed a Kickstarter project and wondered – what if this all ends up falling to pieces? Unfortunately for the backers of YouTube sensations Yogscast, this nightmare has become a reality.
After receiving $567,665 of their $250,000 Kickstarter goal, Yogscast in conjunction with Winterkewl games were set out to make a sandbox RPG titled ‘Yogventures’ with claims of it being “The game you’ve always wanted”.
The Kickstarter was launched in April 2012, enticing 13,000 people to donate a large total of $567,665 which, as stated above, is over double what they were originally asking.
As we learned thanks to Kotaku, Yogscast haven’t exactly had a squeaky clean past:
“Yogscast ran into some controversy when they announced a revenue-sharing program in which their personalities would make videos about games like Space Engineers in exchange for a percentage of revenue from the game. Many saw this as a serious conflict of interest.” Kotaku
Their fans were however able to put this behind themselves and funded this project with full confidence. It all began well, with the Alpha release announced in March 2013 with some rather large, and possibly unrealistic, game release features including:
- Beautiful, randomly-generated game worlds that are different every time you start a new Yogventure
- Fully shapeable terrain – with the ability for players to raise a mountain range or create a vast ocean; you can effortlessly shape your world however you imagine it
- A wealth of novel building materials, creatures, NPCs and items
- A rich underground to mine and explore – bristling with rare outcroppings of gems and crystals, hidden tombs and dark underground terrors that drop rare weapons and loot
- A fully-fleshed out crafting system
- An in-game physics engine that will even effect the blocks you place in your creations
- The ability to customise your own unique avatar or play as one of your favourite Yogscast characters
- Easy-to-use in-game modding API including in-game scripting
- Ability for modders to have a chance to get their work added to the game
- Regularly released video updates from the developers including the latest feature additions
Soon after, the slippery slope started. On August 2013, they released a statement claiming financial issues:
“Unfortunately, that ate the majority of our budget while we worked in R&D so ever since December 2012 we have had to fund the development of Yogventures! ourselves. “What does that mean?” I can hear you ask. Well it means the team initially all took time off of our “day jobs” to dedicate to Yogventures, it turns out it was no where near enough time and we had to all go back to those day jobs and continue development on nights and weekends and lunch breaks and pretty much anywhere we can fit in a few hours to tackle the enormous amount of work needed. I’m proud of the team for sticking by the project despite our initial set backs and delays. It’s a testament to how much we all believe in this game and how much we really want to do a good job for all of you that helped Kickstart this company and get us off the ground and running! Hopefully in the near future, we will be able to expand even more and put even more time and effort into making Yogventures! what we all know it really can be, which is great fun!” Kickstarter
But never fear, the game was still being developed! Open BETA was released for the Kickstarters or for an optional buy-in of $30. The general consensus was quite positive and feedback was being accumulated – could this be the revival of a great project?
Unfortunately not. July 2013 saw the disbandment of Winterkewl games by their founder, Kris Vale who claims to have invested $25,000 and his marriage into this endeavour.
“I tried to cut all costs and continue the development even after the heavy losses of 2013 but the stress of trying to work full time and be full time on the game ultimately caused me to ruin my relationship with my wife, and she filed for divorce because I was so obsessed with finishing this game that she couldn’t take not seeing me anymore. When the divorce began I suffered a bit of a crisis personally and had to take a medical leave of absence from work. I almost lost my job too.
I’m deeply sorry that despite our best efforts we never reached a level of play-ability that inspired enough confidence from not only the community but even the Yogscast themselves. This is my fault, I agreed to every feature request we got because I didn’t want to lose the opportunity. I wanted so badly to make this project a reality I ignored the real-world risks to the point that I almost lost everything and worst of all I let you all down.” Reddit
With that heavy information in mind, Yogscast sent a letter to their funding group saying the game was no more. In this statement they said they will not be supplying refunds to backers and made this interesting statement:
“Although we’re under no obligation to do anything. Instead, we’re going to do our best to make this right, and make you really glad that you backed the project![sic]” Kotaku
Yogscast eased the pain by giving their backers each a copy to a game called TUG, which was developed by some of their friends. But can they just call it quits with no refunding or repercussions? As according to the Kickstarter FAQ, quite possibly not:
“Is a creator legally obligated to fulfil the promises of their project?
So where did the hard-earned money actually go? Yogscast claims:
- $35,000.00 Concept Art / Sky boxes / Environment Textures (Senior matte painter / concept artist from PDI Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Concept Art / Character Designs / UI Design (Senior Character Designer Treyarch)
- $35,000.00 Modelling (Senior Modeler from Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Textures / Surfacing / Shader development (Senior Surface Artist from Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Animation (Senior Animator from Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Programming / Unity Development (Myself Unity Developer)
- $15,000.00 Unity Developer part time / intern
- $100,000.00 Programming / Application Architecture / Back-end Server Code / Voxel Engine (TBD, we were courting several programmers with lots of game experience over the course of the Kickstarter)
- $3500.00 Legal Fees Contracts
- $1500.00 Accountant Fees
- $15000.00 Hardware (PC computers)
- $5000.00 Software Licenses
- $15,000.00 Escrow for expenses related to development like buying Unity Assets etc.
- $50,000.00 Physical Rewards creation and Shipping
Vale released a statement claiming:
“In the end we negotiated that $US150,000 would be transferred to the Yogscast with the understanding that they would use that money exclusively to create and ship all the physical rewards, AND they would help hire the main programmer that we still didn’t have on the project” Kotaku
Where did this $150,000 end up? We don’t know. The latest update from Yogscast reads:
We’re not ready to make a detailed statement about what happened with Yogventures. Winterkewl’s statement omits much and I would disagree with a number of points, but there’s no value in going into detail. Our only goal right now is to ensure that we provide the best possible experience for the backers that we can. I can honestly say this has been our goal throughout.
To keep things simple, the facts are:
- Winterkewl failed to meet their promises with Yogventures
- The Yogscast are doing their best to rectify this situation – TUG is only the first step
- Any monies the Yogscast have received in connection with this project has been spent on this project
- I would just like to say that this project was started when The Yogscast was just me and Simon making videos out of our bedrooms. We met Kris and trusted his qualifications and assertions that we could trust him with our brand and even more importantly, our audience. Needless to say, I’m upset and embarrassed, but strongly believe the backers will end up getting far more value and a far better result than they originally anticipated when they backed this project.
Did you back this project? Are you happy with how it’s being handled? This has become quite the mess. Stay tuned to eTeknix for updates.
Image courtesy of Kickstarter