The lights are on
Earlier today, we reported that Precursor Games was suspending its crowdfunding efforts for Shadow of the Eternals. The episodic game was to be the studio's first, though the entirety of its staff is composed of former Silicon Knights employees. Furthermore, Shadow of the Eternals is tied very closely to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, a Silicon Knights game.
I have been critical of the campaign for a number of reasons. There was a distinct mismatch between funding goal and promised backer rewards. We received conflicting stories from both current Silicon Knights staff and Precursor Games about art and technology assets transferred from the former to the latter. The Precursor Games forums carry a logo for Eternal Darkness that isn't theirs (it belongs to Nintendo).
All of these led me to have serious reservations about the project. Today brings yet another reason why potential backers should be skeptical.
There have been a number of canceled video game Kickstarter projects, and I've spoken with project creators who confirm that if a manager decides to cancel, it can be done instantaneously. In fact, one I spoke with one that did cancel and was told explicitly that the group was able to terminate immediately.
Precursor Games has decided to keep the doors open for two more days, even though the decision has been made. I asked them why. Put simply, the answer doesn't make sense.
Here's what I was told via email,
Thanks for your inquiry. We are committed to our community and the delivering a great game. So it was important for us to give fans adequate notice that the Kickstarter page would be temporarily taken down.
I wanted to know why they felt fans needed time since the Kickstarter update assured that all funds contributed via the company's website would be returned. Of course, no Kickstarter backers have been charged yet. I pressed further and received a longer answer that is no more detailed.
The reason we are notifying fans before the page is down is because we want to ensure that those who have or are considering contributing know that the page is coming down, but we will be reigniting the campaign shortly. We did this as a courtesy as we didn’t just want to pull the page down without letting our community know ahead of time, leaving them wondering what happened.
From the outside, this doesn't appear to be a courtesy. It sounds definitive in the intent to pull the plug, but the actions tell a different story. The update (both on the Kickstarter website and Precursor's own page) doesn't go away if the campaign ends. Information about "new developments" cited in the update haven't been revealed, so people are still wondering what happened (aside from the failure to match a pace that would yield success). The real courtesy would be returning funds and releasing pledges.
This appears to be a last ditch effort to drum up sympathy and rev the engine one last time. It should not work. The campaign is less than 20 percent of the way funded with two weeks to go (and the Kickstarter portion is only 10 percent of the way there). The chance of success with nearly $1 million left to raise is slim at best.
Had Precursor Games simply pulled the plug with a promise to retool and revisit, it could have easily been chalked up to poor performance and a bad pitch. It happens all the time. However, dangling the campaign for just two more days seems manipulative.
If Precursor is truly committed to canceling and returning later, the campaigns should end immediately. Backers to the private effort should be refunded as quickly as possible. It's the right thing to do.