As has been widely reported in the specialist press, Yogventures – a game which more than doubled its initial goal of $250,000 on Kickstarter and was heavily associated with Youtube partner Yogscast – was cancelled this month, in a move which sparked outrage among many who had backed the project.
In an email to backers explaining the cancellation, co-founder of the Yogscast, Lewis Brindley said: “As you may of heard, Winterkewl Games have stopped work on Yogventures – but this is actually a good thing. The project was proving too ambitious and difficult for them to complete with their six-man team.”
As for the 13,647 people who backed the project; they have been promised a Steam Early Access Key for TUG, another successfully funded kickstarter game. “In many ways TUG is the game we were hoping Winterkewl would create” stated Brindley.
However many rewards that relied on the games completion, such as merchandise or in-game rewards, will of course no longer be issued. Despite this the Yogscast has promised they will do everything they can to find cool things to take their place – one of which is to offer backers a copy of similar indie open-world survival game TUG instead.
Many backers took to Winterkewl’s Kickstarter page to call for a refund, while others raised some of their own concerns, such as already owning a copy of TUG. One of the lead developers on the project has now issued a full statement on the games Kickstarter page which you can read here, and goes into more detail about how the project fell apart, as well as a breakdown of development costs. It makes for an interesting, if grim read.
Winterkewl stated that after Amazon and Kickstarter fees, the final payment they received was “roughly $415,000”. The breakdown of where all that money went is as follows:
- $35,000.00 Concept Art / Sky boxes / Environment Textures (Senior matte painter / concept artist from PDI Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Concept Art / Character Designs / UI Design (Senior Character Designer Treyarch)
- $35,000.00 Modeling (Senior Modeler from Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Textures / Surfacing / Shader development (Senior Surface Artist from Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Animation (Senior Animator from Dreamworks)
- $35,000.00 Programming / Unity Development (Myself Unity Developer)
- $15,000.00 Unity Developer part time / intern
- $100,000.00 Programming / Application Architecture / Back-end Server Code / Voxel Engine (TBD, we were courting several programmers with lots of game experience over the course of the Kickstarter)
- $3500.00 Legal Fees Contracts
- $1500.00 Accountant Fees
- $15000.00 Hardware (PC computers)
- $5000.00 Software Licenses
- $15,000.00 Escrow for expenses related to development like buying Unity Assets etc.
- $50,000.00 Physical Rewards creation and Shipping
Worthy of note is that while one artist got paid $35,000 for two weeks’ work, no work was actually produced. Unfortunately, right off the bat we had one major incident that happened that we could not fix,” wrote Kris Vale of Winterkewl. “Our good friend and matte painter really terrific artist that created most of the concept art with environments on the Kickstarter page, he left PDI to work at LucasArts. LucasArts wouldn’t give him a carve out in his contract to work on Yogventures so he couldn’t work on the project any longer.”
He goes on to explain the tensions this caused between the developer and Yogscast: “When [Yogscast co-founder] Lewis found out about the artist incident he was rightly confused and upset, as a result he lost faith right away in my ability to run the company from a business standpoint and basically required that all the rest of the Kickstarter money that hadn’t been spent be transferred to them right away. In the end we negotiated that to $150,000 would be transferred to the Yogscast with the understanding that they would use that money exclusively to create and ship all the physical rewards, AND they would help hire the main programmer that we still didn’t have on the project.”
Finally, Vale said that those demanding a refund will unfortunately be disappointed. “Since the money was all spent either directly on development of the game or paid to the Yogscast to handle physical rewards and “licensing fees” I’m afraid Winterkewl Games has a negative balance at this point,” he wrote. “We don’t have any of the money left and as such can’t really offer refunds.”
The entire incident is likely to have left many people with a bitter taste in their mouths – not just towards the developer, but also towards Youtube success Yogscast and Kickstarter in general. It’s a sobering reminder that, despite what many people continue to think, Kickstarter is not a pre-order service – it’s a way for people to donate money to help see projects come to fruition.
We’ll bring more on the story as we have it.