In 2015 Indonesian game studio, Artoncode ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for their new project. Winterflame: The Other Side was planned to be an exciting puzzle adventure game with a complex emotional story. Over 600 backers pledged CA$ 70,832 to help Artoncode bring the project to life, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. A recent update has revealed that it probably was never going to be either.
Winterflame got off to a great start. Not only did the campaign raise slightly more than its goal, but the game also got on Steam Greenlight. Artoncode never explicitly stated how far along the game was during the campaign, but they did have a presumably working prototype available at the time. Combined with their assertion that the project’s biggest challenge would be designing the puzzles, backers had every reason to think the game was well underway.
In truth, despite updates to the contrary, Winterflame was already facing difficulties. Backers were told, “We ensure you that we have progress very well until now,” in updates. Meanwhile, the project was actually experiencing numerous design and technical issues. Information which remained hidden from backers until the team’s most recent Kickstarter update.
After only two “backer only” updates throughout the whole of 2016, Artoncode has finally (10 months later) come clean with backers about the state of the project. Namely, that quite unexpectedly, they have canceled the whole thing.
“We are sad to inform you that we have terminated this project for good. We are fully aware of the disappointment this decision will cause, and so, we humbly ask for your forgiveness.”
The setbacks at the end of 2015 significantly slowed down the team’s progress. To counter this they attempted to split up the content going into 2016, but they had already used up a considerable chunk of the budget. With only 3 months of funding left they decided to build a working demo to pitch the project to publishers. By the end of May 2016 the demo was done, but it had depleted all of the team’s remaining financial resources.
Rather than come clean with backers about the complete suspension of the project, a few members of the team tried to keep things going. However, after several months of desperately trying to secure additional funding the company went under and the team dispersed.
The update notes that as the team is currently without resources they have no means of refunding the backers who’d supported them. Instead they are planning to release all the progress they’d made to their backers. Particularly, the Winterflame: The Other Side demo, which for CA$ 70,832 doesn’t seem like much.
Naturally, backers are angry. Not just about their lost money, but also about how Artoncode hid the problems. As backer, Tyler Bledsoe commented, “What upsets me most is that the team knew 9 months ago that things were going downhill & this may be the end result, & yet they did nothing to warn us. They even posted updates in May & June saying ‘Look how great things are going! I hope you’re all still excited about this great game we’ll have to you soon!’.”
It’s always disappointing when a project fails, but even more-so when developers try to be sneaky about it. Kickstarter might not be an ‘official’ investment platform like Fig, but when people believe in you enough to give you money to create something, common courtesy suggests that you be honest with them. It seems like CA$ 70,832 should have bought at least that much.