This sounds like a good title for a segment on a hidden traitor, euro game but unfortunately it is far less fun than that. We are currently in the midst of another board game company acting shady on Kickstarter and I have hit a point of no return. When a game designer says they have not been paid for a year and a company has, within that year, finished a Kickstarter massing over $1 million, one starts to get suspicious.
With the Doom that Came to Atlantic City finally getting FTC attention and game companies like Game Salute failing to deliver any project in a reasonable amount of time, I feel like we may need to take a look at some of the companies in this industry and reevaluate some of our principals when it comes to interacting with some companies.
I am not here to say that every company that runs a Kickstarter for a game is trying to do something shady. In fact, I would even go as far as saying some companies like Stronghold Games and Mr. B Games are using Kickstarter to put out a wonderful product. These companies seem to run a campaign not only to gauge demand but because the projects they created are a bit out of their ability to produce with their own capital. Thusly, they can use the Kickstarter platform as an investment opportunity for people who want to see a game that would otherwise never be able to exist. Alternatively it seems like there are two other kinds of companies utilizing Kickstarter.
Game Salute is one of these two types of companies. Seemingly their goal on Kickstater is to grab up as many games as they can, to produce/deliver. This kind of production consolidation may seem like a good idea as then all the games can be handled by a company who literally exists to manage the production of your game. However, what is really happening is that these companies take on too much and the developers end up paying them for overly elongated game productions and releases. This is frustrating because it hurts developers who may otherwise not be able to handle the production of their game themselves. It comes off, at best, as a cash grab by these companies who are seemingly conning developers into giving them money for a sub-par experience.
Speaking of cash grabs, lets talk about Queen Games.The main point of this article was that Donald X Vaccarino mentioned on the Kingdom Builder: Marshlands Expaniosn BGG page that, “…that they haven’t paid me yet for 2014.” Believe it or not a lot of people don’t really like to hear that a developer is not getting paid for their work! In 2014 Queen ran a campaign for Kindom Builder Box Expansion, which raised almost $160k in funds. Since that campaign they have raised over $1 million dollars in Kickstarter campaign funds for 17 different games. Seven of these games I have heard talked about on media outlets like The Dice Tower, Shut Up and Sit Down and TableTop.
Personally it is, at the very least, interesting that such a “successful” company needs that much support in creating a version of there games that already seem to sell pretty well. I mean, we are talking games that gamers use to introduce people to gaming. These games are not under the radar hits (Posthuman) or a game that needed help getting off the ground (Space Cadets Away Missions). This coupled with the shady activity surrounding Queen Game’s Kingdom Builder contract problems, begs the question why are they using Kickstarter anyway? As of this moment Queen Games has yet to respond to the comment on their Kickstarter page for Kingdom Builder: Marshlands. I am very interested in seeing what they have to say in response to Donald’s claim.
I love this community, I love board games, and most of all I love the people I get to meet as part of this. When I hear about these kinds of events happening, I truly feel bad. It may be too much to ask that the companies that give us our games act the way that we like to treat others in the community. These are the times when I am glad publishers like Mr.B Games, Stronghold Games, and others exist and are so integrated into the community. I want to thank you for being part of our community. As for the other companies, this is a call to arms! Shape up or ship out.