If you’ve been a lover of indie games for a while then chances are you have heard of Indie Statik. It was way back in July 2011 that a YouTube channel by that name appeared featuring a playthrough of Jamestown. A fellow named Josh Mattingly had decided to share his love of all things indie with YouTube’s audience and quickly gained a following. At some point he and friend Chris Priestman, both lovers of indie titles, decided to create a website named Indie Statik. By November 2012 the site had its soft launch. It was around this time I discovered my new favorite indie game site.
Fast forward about a year later and in 2013 Indie Statik had been going strong with a small, but devoted staff of freelancers. In hopes of hiring a few folks free time and expanding the site, founders Josh and Chris launched a Kickstarter campaign. According to the page, if they could reach the goal of $35,000 then that would be used to pay content creators. Despite being only about a year old at the time, Indie Statik had become a phenomenal resource for indie fans. This meant that it was easy to raise their funding goal and even reach beyond it. By the end, it had raised $50,350.
They were able to raise this amount of funding because of high quality work and continuous output. Of course, they also gained a place in many indie developer’s hearts because of their loving coverage of all games. It’s likely because of this very positive image that many well known indie developers provided digital music and even exclusive games to include with reward tiers. Personally, I backed at the $25 level which granted me access to both a mixtape-style soundtrack and a collection of 10 indie games. By January 10th 2014, I received a campaign message and was finally able to download my pack of games via Game Jolt’s website.
Unfortunately, shortly afterward things took a sharp turn. On January 20th 2014 news broke via Kotaku that Josh had overtly sexually harassed a game developer online. This was bad enough as is, but apparently he had also used his position as a member of Indie Statik to gain access to her time to begin with. This moment shook the indie community, previous fans of the website, and the staff itself. Josh’s apology followed shortly (although it has since been deleted from his Tumblr). As a result of such transgressions, Editor-in-Chief Chris Priestman left the site officially on January 22nd and shortly after began work on a new indie website, Warp Door.
On that same day Josh stepped down “for a bit” from Indie Statik and previous editor Chloi Rad became the new Editor-in-Chief. Game Jolt’s own David DeCarmine was also named to keep the site running in Josh’s absence. Despite the awful events that transpired with the site’s founder, Indie Statik assured readers that their goal would be to “always remain to push the indie community forward in a positive way.” For a while, to outsiders such as myself, it appeared that things were regaining some sense of normalcy on the site.
Something more must have been brewing underneath. On April 4th, the Indie Statik YouTube channel uploaded content for the last time, shortly after Josh appeared and promised tons of new content. The last Kickstarter update posted was on May 30th, explaining why they had been unable to provide the physical rewards of t-shirts and posters yet. As I didn’t pledge to these tiers I am unaware if anyone has received these tangible goods yet. Brief searching of Twitter doesn’t reveal anyone gloating about them yet, anyhow. Because of that my assumption is that a year after the campaign they’re still not out. By itself, that’s not dire as so many Kickstarter campaigns are unable to get their rewards out in a timely fashion.
However, other events lead me to believe that rewards and expectations of the campaign may be in more jeopardy. Indie Statik was receiving regular content up, some even quietly penned by Josh, until July 31st. Then the site went silent. On August 6th Indie Statik’s Twitter – not the website – provided an official announcement: “We’d like to inform our readers that IndieStatik is going on hiatus, but not going away. Stay tuned!” Despite the hiatus, the site remained online with its homepage seemingly frozen in time. Well, it did until November.
On November 1st I visited the site only to be greeted with a message that the site was offline. Regular checking since has resulted in the same down page. As far as I’m aware, this is the day the site officially went offline. As of now, neither the Indie Statik page or past or previous site contributors have given an explanation as to why. If there had been a reason, such as a complete redesign, it would make sense to see acknowledgement of the site’s accessibility. Without that, it paints a more worrisome picture that maybe Indie Statik is over.
This should matter very much to the Kickstarter backers. We paid a little over $50,000 to help the site look and function better, but most importantly to pay its writers. Chances are the staff were paid for their work, but they weren’t even given a year of time to receive their portion of the Kickstarter funds. It’s possible they were paid in advance, or in full after the fact, but this is something that people in the know are probably legally barred from discussing.
Then there’s the matter of the $42,000 stretch goal of an “Indie Arcade powered by Game Jolt.” This was meant to be a fancy webpage accessible from Indie Statik where staff would curate awesome indie games that the readership could then play for free. As far as I’m aware, this never made its way out. Nowhere on the site (at least in its archived version) is such an arcade link displayed either. No other stretch goals were met. Where did this extra money meant to pay for development of the arcade webfront go? Perhaps it was funneled directly toward the staff instead, since they did provide their end of the agreement.
Finally, one must look to the backers and the money they provided to make this site’s continued existence possible. In exchange, they were promised a variety of rewards which may have ended up as useless (or severely delayed, if everything suddenly resumes in the near future). In all, 307 backers from $40 and up were promised t-shirts. Maybe these do exist, but again, I’ve not seen any confirmation personally.
95 backers at the exclusive $85 tier were promised four art prints signed by Josh. It’s entirely possible many backers no long even want these rewards, considering what transpired, but they were promised at a point so they should be provided. Then there’s the $100 tier which 22 people pledged for to receive “early access to any new YouTube shows we produce.” After the close of the campaign, 11 videos were published but have long since ceased uploading. I can’t pretend to know the thoughts of these backers but it would make sense that they expected Indie Statik to continue bringing new content to YouTube as it had for years prior.
From Kickstarter success on October 30th to site site and YouTube silence since July 31st, the site survived for about 9 more months. What happened to prompt the sudden hiatus? Unfortunately, no one is currently giving any answers. All previous and “current” Indie Statik staff members are still working with other sites, posting updates, and generally doing well. Even Josh has apparently begun a career in comedy. So is this the end for Indie Statik? We’ll just have to watch and see what eventually transpires.
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Read more Kickstarter MIA articles right here for more sad crowdfunding tales.