Kickstarter has suspended a successfully-funded campaign for an ambitious-sounding sandbox MMO inspired by the likes of GTA Online and Rust for failing to be “honest, and clearly presented.”
Gamesindustry.biz reports that the German developer Killerwhale Games asked for €70,000 via Kickstarter to fund their MMO; RAW. Critics were quick to point out that a project of the proposed scope of RAW would cost an awful lot more than the money the studio was asking for, however.
RAW’s Kickstarter page promised a massive, deeply immersive open world in which players could essentially become anyone or do anything, including build houses, start a business, become a career criminal, or even enter politics via a custom-built government infrastructure.
Here’s the game’s official description:
The player acts as a citizen of the island state. The game offers a wide range of game styles and features. Players can own land, use air, water and land transport, build houses, work for the state or find a private job, as well as organize their own business in almost any field of activity. You can be on the side of the law or go beyond it. Or just fool around alone or with your friends.
Despite the fact RAW managed to raise $170,000 before the crowdfunding campaign closed two weeks ago, Kickstarter has now suspended it and canceled all pledges, citing a lack of transparency on the part of Killerwhale as it allegedly became clear that the studio intended to further fund the project via other means.
A spokesperson for Kickstarter said in a statement to PCGamesN:
Our rules and guidelines ask that creators seek to raise the amount of money needed to bring a project to completion and fulfill all rewards. This creator stated in an update that they would need to raise additional funds outside of Kickstarter to complete the game. We require projects to be honest and clearly presented, and this project failed to meet that standard.
It’s unclear how Kickstarter arrived at this decision, but it’s likely in response to a post from Killerwhale in which the team appear to defend the modest $70,000 goal on their FAQ page.
Yes, our game can not be made for €70,000, but nobody said that this money is all that we have. We have other sources of funding too. We didn’t have any marketing strategy, we didn’t advertise our game anywhere and nobody knew about it, unfortunately we did everything in a hurry. So considering the game wasn’t popular we couldn’t ask you for €300,000 here on Kickstarter.
In a message on the game’s official Discord, Killerwhale claim they received “no warning” that Kickstarter would be cancelling the pledges, but assured fans they “weren’t broken” and would continue to seek funding elsewhere.
While other Kickstarter-backed games (such as Shenmue 3) have made it clear that they have additional funds elsewhere, the issue in the case of RAW seems to be that the developers implied the Kickstarter funds wouldn’t come close to covering the project while the campaign was still going on, which clearly shook Kickstarter’s faith that the game would be completed.
Killerwhale claimed that most of RAW’s systems were already finished, and that around €10,000 had been spent on the game so far. The studio also said they’ve been working on it for around two and a half years now, and have taken very little time off in that period.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.