Sometimes, a Kickstarter game receives funding and then just slowly disappears. This is the risk backers gamble with anytime they choose to fund a project. However, sometimes a game disappears so quickly and so completely it warrants a closer look. To that end, I present the disturbing case of LCD Entertainment’s, Sunshine Compound.
The campaign for the free-to-play cult themed browser game began in February of 2013 with a modest $20,000 goal and a hilariously animated teaser, Sunshine Compound showed some promise. The premise borrowed from multiple iterations of Facebook farming sims, with a decidedly darker twist. Playing as the leader of the Sunshine Compound cult, players would be tasked with acquiring new followers and funding through less than legal methods while staying under the radar of the local police force.
By the end of the Kickstarter, LCD had just managed to meet their funding goal with $129 to spare. Ordinarily this would be when the developers would start releasing updates and interacting with backers, instead things got weird.
LCD Entertainment made the obligatory updates announcing they had been funded and thanking their 52 backers for helping the project succeed. There was a follow-up update at the beginning of April 2013 where they announced they’d be sending out surveys so backers could claim their rewards. Most of the action seemed to happening over at their website forums, which are sadly, the only part of their site that no longer works.
Then, on April 11, 2013, they posted a list of their donors to the website and then, well, that was it. All of their social media pages and updates just ended upon the publishing of this list. The part that really got my spidey-senses tingling though, was that after the updates ended, none of the 52 backers ever asked about the project again.
It was as if they all just disappeared into a void at the same time together, almost like a cult? All attempts to reach out to available points of contact were met with complete silence. Even stalkishly messaging the only dev I could trace on Facebook yielded no results, unless there is now a restraining order I’m unaware of.
The list of donors is interesting, not only because several of the donors share a last name with at least one of the devs, but because it exists at all. Why was it so important for them to make the list before they disappeared? Some of the names are clearly fictitious, unless some poor kid really ended up with Darth Maul as his moniker, but there are enough of them that it seems unlikely that they were all just friends and family of the developers offering support for a passion project.
So, what happened to Sunshine Compound and the backers who supported it? It seems so bizarre that not a single backer ever asked about the game again. I’m only half kidding when I say we might want to start checking for missing person reports and track Kool-Aid sales. (Yeah, I know it was actually Flavor Aid, but that figure of speech never caught on.)