Knuckle Club & ConEx The Latest Kickstarter Scams? Not So Fast.

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knuckleclublogo

Knuckle Club & ConEx The Latest Kickstarter Scams? Not So Fast.

By Nathaniel Liles

I was approached by our Editor in Chief today about an article surrounding the latest “scam” Kickstarter had to offer. Articles like this are great. They certainly don’t exist to shame Kickstarter as a whole, they just help create a community of backers that know when a campaign looks fishy. Consumers need to understand where their money is going. The hardest thing for most people to understand is that backing a project on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo isn’t the indie equivalent of pre-ordering a game. I think pre-orders of AAA games are a scourge on humanity, mostly because of the reason they exist: To get you to buy a game before a credible source has had the chance to fully analyze it. Crowdfunding works very differently, believe it or not, because it’s not a pre-order. The game doesn’t exist yet, so the developers aren’t trying to get you to buy a product that they’re not confident in, they’re trying to get enough money together to make a game that will sell on its own. Everything takes an initial investment, after all. Want a sandwich? Even that requires an initial investment.

conexpresslogoHowever, as I began to investigate this scandal, I had a really hard time finding anything worthy of the word. Maybe “con” or “scam” would be a better word for what I was looking for, and try as I might, I couldn’t find the “scam” that the comments section on the Kickstarter for Confederate Express was referring to. I saw a studio with a flimsy grasp on their fan base, I saw a community of entitled crybabies, and I even saw an overlap of interests that contributed to a delay, but I didn’t see a scam, and I didn’t see any reason for an investigation or mass refund – two things backers of Confederate Express were demanding. I even saw a reasonable portion of backers that understood the situation and reacted like grown-ass, responsible people. For those of you in the dark about this ordeal, I’m going to outline the situation and provide a way to process the outcome that you can use, if you like, to formulate a mature response to a company making a questionable decision.

Confederate Express
Confederate Express

Here’s the skinny: Developer Maksym Pashanin and his team of artists, programmers, and musicians started a Kickstarter campaign for a game called Confederate ExpressIn November of last year, this campaign was funded and reached almost 400% of its original goal, ending on November 20th with nearly $40,000 in the bank. While this isn’t a particularly small goal for a game of this size, it probably wasn’t a realistic expectation, and as time went on, funds for the game dwindled while the developers remained quiet (in our interview with Maksym, development costs were now somewhere around $70,000). In the almost 8 months that have passed since Confederate Express was funded, only 4 updates have been posted. Most of them are about the game’s development, including character breakdowns and some talk of engine enhancements. Two of the updates, however, dealt with something that backers simply didn’t want to hear. The development team was going to be receiving additional funding from another group of developers working within the same studio in return for ambiguous “help” developing another game. How the developers were associated is a little complicated, but for now suffice it to say that there was no overlap in the core development teams. Anyone working on both projects was brought in as an independent, and they were paid for out-of-pocket.

knuckleclub2
Knuckle Club

The “other game”, so to speak, is Knuckle Cluba 2D brawler sporting the same unique graphics engine as ConExThe deal was that after Knuckle Club was completed (a projected 2-3 month job), Confederate Express would be made even bigger than ever imagined, including all stretch goals – even those not met during the initial campaign. Development of Knuckle Club is currently behind schedule, however, and backers of Confederate Express are outraged that the project they backed is evidently being put on the back burner. Backers didn’t initially know that development efforts were going to be split, and all donations were locked in before this news was broken to either the developers or the backers. That being said, backers are very vocal about the way they feel, and they feel outrage deep in their souls.

Knuckle Club
Knuckle Club

Those are the facts, and if you’d like to take a closer look at what Maksym had to say about this situation, you can take a look at our most recent interview with him. This is an editorial, however, so we’re not quite done yet. That’s right, it’s time for me to chime in with my two cents on the situation, so buckle in. First of all, I don’t think this is a scam, and I sincerely think everyone calling it a scam needs to calm down and figure out what Kickstarter is before spending another dime on a campaign. Those of you calling this a scam are overreacting to an unpredictable development cycle, you misunderstand how crowdfunding works, and you misunderstand on a fundamental level how complicated business is. Instead of flaming the developers of a game you hope to play (developers who haven’t cancelled the game), you should sit back, relax, and live your life the same way you’ve been living it for the last 8 months.

First off, let me establish that I don’t think the developers are blameless here. They didn’t ask for enough money, they handled their community badly, and they didn’t post enough updates or engage backers in a clear enough way. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at how the developers dealt with this problem. They didn’t cancel the game, and the community is reacting as if they not only cancelled the game, but cancelled it while wrapping shredded money in more money and lighting their money cigars with burning money while sitting in a chair made of even more money. This is not conventional, but it’s a solution to a problem that led to a delay instead of a cancellation, and with all the madness that Kickstarter can stir up, this is definitely a best-case scenario considering that the original campaign asked for too little. However, if the original campaign had asked for the $70,000 it would eventually discover it needed, neither game would exist at all. Don’t be afraid that the game you donated to is going to fall behind. It’s taking steps forward, it’s being worked on every day, and because of this deal, it’s going to be more than it ever would have been. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/nathaniel.jpg”]Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free on his BandCamp page. You can watch him play games on his Twitch channel. You can also follow him on twitter at @NathanielLiles. And finally, you can read more of his writing over at EliteGamingComputers.com. He’s a pretty connected guy.[/author]

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Nathaniel Liles
Nathaniel Liles is a freelance writer, writing major, and indie musician based in Southern Indiana. While procrastinating or avoiding real-world responsibility, Nathaniel enjoys playing rhythm games, action RPGs, and very colorful games with many bright, flashing lights. You can listen to Nathaniel sing songs or download his music for free at http://nathanielliles.bandcamp.com/.
Nathaniel Liles
  • I think the scam comes from these two brothers stealing someones condo in palm springs and becoming squatters. I would never give these guys another dime. Those who have are just more suckers

  • DJ_Jackel

    Wow, I have never in my life read so much ignorance in one news article. Perhaps a little more research needs done before posting something with such a radical statement towards such a large group of individuals. Getting all your information directly from a so-called “scam artist” is what you consider factual?

    I find it hard to believe I’m the first to comment on this article, but perhaps everyone else was too disgusted to actually finish it, so let me step in and be the voice of reason.

    I’m going to take for granted that everyone realizes that Kick Starter projects have absolutely no requirement to be completed. It’s simply based on a faith system, in which you judge the individual to be respectable to follow through with their promises. I’m going to give that point to the author above.

    Confederate Express was, let’s face it, more than Kilobite was capable of making. They made wild promises that they couldn’t deliver on, and that was their biggest failure. That said, we can’t just stop there. We have to take EVERYTHING into account when we’re judging a person and the company they own.

    Maksym has been labeled a scam artist, in my opinion for just cause, and nothing the article above gave evidence that pointed away from that. In fact, if you take a look at the linked “most recent interview” you’ll see that he even bounces around with his facts during the interview. He goes from stating that he started and owns Kilobite, to saying he’s not involved in anything at Kilobite, to saying he’s just employed there. Any psychiatrist will tell you that’s what happens when you lie pathologically. You forget the previous lies and just keep developing new ones, even if they contradict the old ones you’ve already stated.

    The true facts of the matter is, he IS the owner of Kilobite and therefore makes the decisions. I don’t know a single CEO that doesn’t make decisions in their company. His ownership is verifiable through both a search of the Florida business records as well as a WHOIS check on the website domain.

    Now, going further into his personal character (and why nothing he says should be trusted) we need to look at the Airbnb squatter scandal. They even posted on Twitter that they’d look to pull off this same squatting event somewhere else in the future! Personally I think if you just got 40k from Kick Starter, and have no office, you can afford to move into a place where you’re actually PAYING rent. No office? Oh, did I forget to mention that the registered address of Kilobite is actually the same address where the Airbnb squatting is taking place? Taking what this guys says as gospel is just stupid, and the author should know that.

    Let’s go over a few things that Maksym has said in gaming interviews these past few months and you’ll see how conflicted his statements are. These are not direct quotes, because that would require putting in more time here than I want to, but all of this information is Google searchable under “Maksym Pashanin interview”…

    1. His Connection to Kilobite;

    – He started Kilobite (CEO).
    – He has no decision making power at Kilobite.
    – He’s just an employee of Kilobite.
    – Kilobite is a 3rd party company he’s working with.

    2. Confederate Express’ Status;

    – Development of Confederate Express is suspended until KC is released.
    – Maksym is working solely on Confederate Express.
    – Confederate Express will hit Steam in late 2014.

    3. Status of Knuckle Club’s Funding;

    – Knuckle Club is fully funded.
    – Knuckle Club’s Kick Starter will be used for Development, License & Audio.
    – Knuckle Club’s Kick Starter is simply for research.

    Finally, I’d like to add another fact that occurred after this article was posted. If these gentlemen are NOT scam artists then why has their campaign for Knuckle Club been recently suspended by Kick Starter?

    Facts folks… That’s what this article lacks, real facts. It puts far too much faith in the commentary of a presumed scam artist and does absolutely NO research to back up those claims. Don’t just believe something because someone says so. Go and do your own research!

    • GregMicek

      You’re hired! Wait, I mean, you definitely raise some great points. The entire situation sucks honestly. Whether or not you believe ConEx will ever see the light of day, there’s little doubt that Maksym will be keeping his head down for some time; which leaves backers holding the bag.

      • DJ_Jackel

        I absolutely agree. It’s unfortunate that there are people like this in the world who utilize the faith of others as a simple money-grabbing scheme. For further readings on this type of despicable behavior, affecting gamers, I recommend reading up on Mineorama.

      • PegasusOrgans

        This is the guy that was scamming an Air BNB landlord and not paying rent for months and months… This is an open and shut SCAM, so I’m glad you were proven absolutely wrong.

  • PegasusOrgans

    This is the guy that was scamming an Air BNB landlord and not paying
    rent for months and months… This is an open and shut SCAM, so I’m glad
    you were proven absolutely wrong. Maybe, do your job better next time?