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Areal Kickstarter suspended over fraud concerns

Areal Kickstarter suspended over fraud concerns

The Kickstarter campaign for Areal, a would-be spiritual successor to the STALKER franchise, has been cancelled amid claims of fraud.

The Kickstarter campaign for the STALKER-inspired Areal has been cancelled with just two days left on the clock following accusations of impropriety levelled against its founders.

Launched back in June, Areal was claimed to be a true spiritual successor to the cult classic STALKER series, with its creator West Games claiming to house many of the staff who worked on the original title. This claim was brought into question when others who had worked on STALKER suggested that West Games had only a single former STALKER designer on staff, while others proclaimed the whole project a fraud when it was discovered that the trailer was made up almost exclusively of STALKER footage and concept art.

As the project, which had raised more than its modest $50,000 goal, entered its final days, the claims from its creators became increasing bizarre. A $10,000 pledge appeared, which was claimed to be from West Games itself, followed by what was purported to be a signed letter from Russian president Vladimir Putin - who presumably has nothing more pressing to occupy his time right now - pledging interest in the Ukrainian company's game.

That, it appears, was the final straw for Kickstarter, which has now cancelled the funding run. The crowd-funding site does not provide reasons for doing so, but typically only takes the measure if there is clear evidence of fraud.

West Games has, as is to be expected, denied any wrongdoing, and has started accepting what it describes as 'pledges' through its own website to support Areal's continued development.

11 Comments

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Nexxo 23rd July 2014, 11:31 Quote
Putin is a computer gamer?
Harlequin 23rd July 2014, 11:33 Quote
at least with kickstarter you have s safety net - pledges via the makers own website? reminds me of another cancelled kickstarter where the owner freely admitted to spanking all the funds in a lavish lifestyle *citation needed when I find the link*
loftie 23rd July 2014, 12:10 Quote
It's funny, I was reading this article on Kotaku last night about the yogscast failed game after being funded, and now this too. I suppose it's good that they stopped it but it still lowers my confidence with anything on kickstarter.
Gareth Halfacree 23rd July 2014, 14:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by loftie
It's funny, I was reading this article on Kotaku last night about the yogscast failed game after being funded, and now this too. I suppose it's good that they stopped it but it still lowers my confidence with anything on kickstarter.
I've only backed a few projects on Kickstarter, but they all have something in common: failure is highly unlikely. One was a hand-held console that already existed in prototype form, meaning it just needed to enter volume production; another is a tool, same deal; a few others were books, and it's hard to imagine not receiving *anything* from those even if they turn out to be crap.

Software, though? Not a chance. Too much room for feature-creep. I'll buy a copy when it's done, but I'm not risking my cash on an unproven project.
Griffter 23rd July 2014, 14:47 Quote
haha, man-o-man i wish i was there when the guy came up with that putin idea and thought to himself: "oh! thats a cool idea..." type type type, update page!
Umbra 23rd July 2014, 15:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Griffter
haha, man-o-man i wish i was there when the guy came up with that putin idea and thought to himself: "oh! thats a cool idea..." type type type, update page!

That guy is now on Putins 'To Do' list
Umbra 23rd July 2014, 16:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I've only backed a few projects on Kickstarter, but they all have something in common: failure is highly unlikely. One was a hand-held console that already existed in prototype form, meaning it just needed to enter volume production; another is a tool, same deal; a few others were books, and it's hard to imagine not receiving *anything* from those even if they turn out to be crap.

Software, though? Not a chance. Too much room for feature-creep. I'll buy a copy when it's done, but I'm not risking my cash on an unproven project.

The only game I've pledged to is 'Obduction' by Cyan with Rand Miller and his team, they have been around for decades and have always produced what they promised, I'm slightly biased though as I have been a Myst and Riven fan since the first Myst was released and Rand and the team have done a lot of publicity with appearances on TV and radio to promote the new game.

There are few game developers that have the continuous history of Cyan and Rand Miller and I feel that if Obduction failed for some reason it wouldn't be because of anything dodgy, there is always the chance for the usual game delays, especially as Cyan exceeded their KS total so stretch goals are now possible but that's nothing new and is more frustrating than financially risky.

Obviously there has to be trust to pledge money and I don't think they come more trustworthy than Rand Miller B)

Obduction Kickstarter video.

4OF9BBc0xA0
mi1ez 24th July 2014, 04:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbra
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I've only backed a few projects on Kickstarter, but they all have something in common: failure is highly unlikely. One was a hand-held console that already existed in prototype form, meaning it just needed to enter volume production; another is a tool, same deal; a few others were books, and it's hard to imagine not receiving *anything* from those even if they turn out to be crap.

Software, though? Not a chance. Too much room for feature-creep. I'll buy a copy when it's done, but I'm not risking my cash on an unproven project.

The only game I've pledged to is 'Obduction' by Cyan with Rand Miller and his team, they have been around for decades and have always produced what they promised, I'm slightly biased though as I have been a Myst and Riven fan since the first Myst was released and Rand and the team have done a lot of publicity with appearances on TV and radio to promote the new game.

There are few game developers that have the continuous history of Cyan and Rand Miller and I feel that if Obduction failed for some reason it wouldn't be because of anything dodgy, there is always the chance for the usual game delays, especially as Cyan exceeded their KS total so stretch goals are now possible but that's nothing new and is more frustrating than financially risky.

Obviously there has to be trust to pledge money and I don't think they come more trustworthy than Rand Miller B)

Obduction Kickstarter video.

Only ever contributed towards dimple.io, nfc buttons for your phone.
SinxarKnights 24th July 2014, 07:38 Quote
GJ, you guys called the scam from the start. I remember reading the first part of this and the comments pretty much nailed it then. Nice to see them get busted tbh.
Gareth Halfacree 24th July 2014, 08:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbra
The only game I've pledged to is 'Obduction' by Cyan with Rand Miller and his team, they have been around for decades and have always produced what they promised
Same could be said for DoubleFine, and look what happened there: they raised far more than their target, then turned around and said it wasn't enough. (Not saying that'll happen with Obduction, but as the investment adverts warn "past performance is no indicator of the future.")
jb0 24th July 2014, 16:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by loftie
It's funny, I was reading this article on Kotaku last night about the yogscast failed game after being funded, and now this too. I suppose it's good that they stopped it but it still lowers my confidence with anything on kickstarter.

The thing you have to remember with Kickstarter is it's not a store. You are actually funding development of a product, making it possible to make things that will someday show up in stores. Doesn't that sound grand?
Which carries a good deal of risk, and means you have to exercise a lot more judgement than usual. If someone's making claims that sound too good to be true, they probably are.


I've backed a few projects, all things I had confidence in or was willing to risk the (admittedly meager) money because they were offering a dream I believed in.

All of the game projects I've helped fund are still in development. And the authors are still putting out regular and credible updates.
Some have apologized for missing projected milestones. One recently informed me of legal threats from a larger company(threats which would be hilariously groundless if it weren't for the difference in legal budgets between the two companies). Another boosted everyone's backer rewards to include a free copy of an older game they'd developed.
They've all been very honest and down-to-earth, which I guess means I can pick 'em well. I've yet to give money to anyone that's disappeared into the mist.
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