When a game project gets funding from Kickstarter, it’s a win-win: Developers get the funding they need to make their concepts come to life and gamers get their a game that would otherwise be dismissed because of money restrictions or poor marketing potential.
There are only only a few problems that keep the system from being perfect. One big question is, what happens when a developer can’t keep their end of the bargain?
That’s what happened with Haunts: The Manse Macabre, a turn-based horror themed game that had gotten “kickstarted “back in July 2012. It seems that the two programmers that were assigned to work for the game went off to different jobs. One went back to Google, while the other went to another undisclosed job. This left Rick Dakan, the project head, holding the bags.
Kickstarter does state in its FAQs that it is not responsible for what happens to donator’s money after a project has been funded. Creators are free to personally return money to any donators who believed they were cheated but they were under no obligation to do so.
Daken admitted that he hesitated before announcing the project’s troubles. He said on the Kickstarter site that he was scared to bring the bad news, hoping that things would work out. When things didn’t seem to work out, and when it seemed that it looked like the project would be canceled, he manned up and made things right.
He first offered to personally refund money to any donors who wanted to back out on the project. While Daken said on the site that most of the money was already spent on project expenses, he would honor any request for a refund sent to his Kickstarter email.
Second, he continued looking for any takers to salvage the project. He got into contact with some of his old friends at Blue Mammoth and found some programmers willing to see the project through. Everything now seems to be back on track.
There are two lessons to take from this: First, Kickstarter projects are, for the most part, not a guaranteed investment. Second, developers using Kickstarter need to make sure they’re willing to take responsibility when things go south.