The Word Realms Kickstarter has ironically failed to articulate itself, causing confusion and upset among its backers. The breakdown of communication spawns from the confusing description of the game which led many backers to believe they were backing an MMO project. But the game they received was a single-player version only. Understandably, many backers were upset. The original game was released back in 2013 and there has been no word of the MMO in recent history on the Kickstarter.
We can speculate on what happened. It seems the developer (Asymmetric) planned to produce an MMO game called Word Realms. When they came to Kickstarter they were wise enough to focus on making a single-player campaign first. This was probably to test the waters and see if the game would be popular before committing to a larger project. At the time, the team appeared certain of success, as reflected on the Kickstarter page. The way the campaign talks about the MMO version of Word Realms led many backers to believe that they were backing the MMO.
The Kickstarter says, “Show your support by pledging at least $11, and you’ll be able to download the single-player Word Realms game before it goes on sale to the riff-raff known as the ‘general public’,” but there are also lines like, “If we surpass our funding goal, we can hire more artists and programmers, and make the MMO a reality even faster.”
They did surpass the Kickstarter goal, but only by $21,442 and sales were abysmal. Comments on the forums seem to suggest that it’s a fun game and probably would have done quite well if had actually gone to Steam. Unfortunately, it seems, the developer was unwilling to wait in Greenlight Limbo forever and (with the game being a financial failure) the MMO aspect has been taken off the table. A brief exploration of the forums reveals Asymmetric is working on a second game with multiplayer but not the MMO, stating, “Based on how that goes over we’ll make decisions about a full-blown MMO.”
Asymmetric has misled many of their backers…
While I empathize with the developer, I still feel the blame is on them. Whether accidental or not, Asymmetric has misled many of their backers and needs to apologize or clarify if they are still planning the MMO. Ideally, refunds should be offered but (considering they did get a finished game) that might be off the table. The real problem is after the game was released the developer moved discussions to the forum for the game.
Users of Kickstarter aren’t even reaching Asymmetric with their complaints. The forums are active, but I could only find two topics on the MMO. I don’t think it would be a difficult thing for the developers to explain their reasoning or better clarify their intent to backers. Nor do the developers quite understand the importance of Steam when it comes to the PC game market. Even with all the positive remarks about Word Realms, it’s unlikely they’ll ever get the sales needed to justify the MMO without Steam.