In May 2013, a 2D Metroidvania styled platformer named A.N.N.E. received $100,272 on Kickstarter. Its expected release date was May 2014, but fast forward to November 2016 and backers are still waiting. Developer Gamesbymo has released an update announcing another delay.
“I am unable to really take some time to prepare an interesting update for October,” the update begins, “but it’s been intense and will remain so for the next 14 weeks as we are on the road to alpha. And then hopefully soon after that we can talk beta access.”
With a projected release of Summer 2017, you can imagine the response from the backers has been mixed. Usually when a Kickstarter game is delayed, even after this long, the majority of backers seem to be positive. A.N.N.E.’s backers have broken that trend though.
“I hope you have been living well all these years on other people’s money,” says Peter. Another backer, Josh, cites the developer stating they don’t have time to write a full update. “Isn’t that what we paid you to do? It’s part of the package. But I get why you’re so quiet, everyone is really upset with your lack of commitment and it seems like a cash-grab scam at this point.” Two other backers simply pointed out the 2014 release date and said “LOL.”
It’s not all negative however. “Keep up the good work and thans [sic] for the update,” says Louis. “Take care Mo. Make an awesome game and I wish you the best,” says Christopher. Just looking at the comments on the update, you’d think backers were evenly split. Looking at the general comment section tells a different story.
There are the usual backers claiming this was a scam and asking where the game is. There’s also the classic “this is the only project I ever backed and I’m glad I never used Kickstarter again” chestnut. But one comment from Nickolaus dated December 2015 makes a great point.
He points to one of the updates with an alarming quote: “The past few months were mostly spent on planning and game design. But that being said here are some highlights from 2015.” They received their money in May 2013 and only finished planning the game in late 2015? That’s exactly what Nickolaus went to town on.
“A bit late to start project planning, isn’t it? That should have completed before the Kickstarter was created. Hell, the kickstarter should have been part of the project plan to begin with.
“I’m not angry about the project taking too long, I’m more concerned that each update feels like an obligatory excuse. I imagine the new developer will help, but what you seem to need is a project manager that can ensure you reach your milestones.
“As of now their is little faith of a 2017 release, and more of a concern this project is stringing people along until such time has past that no one cares it has been abandoned. But I’m only in for the cost of a cheap lunch. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I was waiting on beta access or the other promised material.”
A Cloudy Future
It’s always a shame when a good looking, highly funded Kickstarter project goes bad like this. But it’s always a good thing when backers make noise, when they complain and point out a developer’s nonsense in the comment section. Too often we see backers bend over backwards and willingly accept anything a developer says even after years of absence.
It’s impossible to say if A.N.N.E. will make its target release date, but you can’t blame backers for wondering if it will, or if it’ll ever even see the light of day. Give the developer props for frequently updating the project (almost one a month for over a year), but even that doesn’t mean much when you have no game to show for yourselves.