If you were thinking about donating some money to help Spike Lee get back on his feet, maybe think twice: this guy just raised over $120,000 to make a game, and then just walked away with all the money. Contrary to what The Crowd Economy preaches, strangers can still screw you.
Erik Chevalier wanted to make a new nerd-approved board game:
A light hearted Lovecraftian game of urban destruction, for two to four players.
You’re one of the Great Old Ones – beings of ancient and eldritch power. Cosmic forces have held you at bay for untold aeons, but at last the stars are right and your maniacal cult has called you to this benighted place. Once you regain your full powers, you will unleash your Doom upon the world!
Fun. Lots of likeminded tabletop gaming geeks flooded Chevalier with cash, surpassing his $35,000 goal by quite a bit: the final take was $122,874. That's a lot of money to design a board game, but hey, it seemed imaginative, so maybe it'd all be put to use. That was possible until this week, when Chevalier posted an update saying he'd spent all the money, didn't have enough to finish the project, and the whole thing was called off. Oh, and about your money? You're probably fucked:
The short version: The project is over, the game is canceled.
After much deliberation I've had to make this decision. I've informed Keith and Lee and neither at all happy with this situation. Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications. No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.
From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds, with The Doom that Came to Atlantic City as only our first of hopefully many projects. Everyone involved agreed on this. Since then rifts have formed and every error compounded the growing frustration, causing only more issues. After paying to form the company, for the miniature statues, moving back to Portland, getting software licenses and hiring artists to do things like rule book design and art conforming the money was approaching a point of no return. We had to print at that point or never. Unfortunately that wasn't in the cards for a variety of reasons.
Wait a second, "moving back to Portland"? Why was that part of the project expense? Backers are asking the exact same thing, and don't like the idea that their money for a board game helped a guy move to a new city. Where the hell did all of the rest of the money go? None of the $122,000 is itemized. It's just... gone. There is talk of refunds, but backers shouldn't expect much anytime soon:
Unfortunately I can't give any type of schedule for the repayment as I left my job to do this project and must find work again. I'll create a separate bank account to place anything beyond my basic costs of living.
I've reached out to Kickstarter to clarify just what kind of recourse these screwed gamers have, but it looks like they'll just have to wait to get a refund out of this dude's savings account sometime in the next couple of decades. Or they can sue, which they're already discussing.
Keep all of this in mind before you donate $30 in the hopes that maybe, someday, that cool Kickstarter iPhone dock might become a reality. Or be ready for the person in charge to spend some (or all!) of your money on haircuts, chewing gum, and a trip to Philly.