How To Rip Off 9000 People On Kickstarter (And Pretty Much Get Away With It)

By September 20, 2013


Remember in 2012 when famed sci-fi writer and swordfighting enthusiast Neal Stephenson (above) went to Kickstarter to help Subutai Corporation get $500k for their 1-1 multiplayer arena based swordfighting PC game, CLANG?

He was so passionate about it that he appeared in Subtai Corp’s high-end pitch video that included an appearance from none other than Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell pounding on a crowbar while jokingly saying “These things take time,” (a possible reference to why there isn’t a Half-Life 3 yet) in order to show gamers exactly what their money would go for.

On July 9, 2012, they reached their goal (and then some) with a final total of $526,125, leaving their backers and gamers everywhere excited at the prospect that they’ll be playing something they had a hand in bringing to life; they eagerly awaited the estimated February 2013 delivery date.

That should be the end of this story, right? WRONG.


9023 backers (including nine who pledged $10k) are totally S.O.L. as Stephenson told said backers in their seemingly UNapologetic Kickstarter backer’s update that the game’s been relegated to “nights and weekends” (because the money’s gone) and most of CLANG’s developers have jumped ship.

So where did all the money go? Not toward the friggin’ game’s development and apparently it never was going to, as it was meant as a “see how much interest we have in our game” in order to entice others (angel investors, publishers, etc) to kick in some cash as well…which *SURPRISE* never happened. And of course, Subutai Corp is pointing the finger at EVERYone (and the economy) else BUT themselves, THEN deflecting by saying their backers should go support ANOTHER Kickstarter project called STEM (a wireless, modular motion tracking platform for video games, virtual reality, etc).

“In the meantime, if you’re still interested in helping the next generation of swordfighting games move forward, have a look at the STEM Kickstarter now being run by our friends at Sixense.”

That smells like “Hey, you already gave us money and although we can’t deliver, how about you give MORE money to SOMETHING ELSE where there may be no guarantees?” or “They said if we help THEM, they’ll help us.”

Either way, it smells like total BULL**** and backers are pissed.

clang complaintAs someone who’s backed many Kickstarter projects, I’d be pissed, too. The mere FACT that Subutai Corp isn’t getting off its ass and looking for investors (“Our only efficient choice is to keep doing what we’re doing and wait for the right investor to come along”) should be a major indicator these guys are unprepared and shifty a-holes who’ve snake-charmed their way into Kickstarter and fleeced over 9,000 people out of their money.

What happens next is anyone’s guess…pretty sure it’s probably gonna get litigious up in here at some point.

Stay WELL tuned.

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee
  • Ann Scrivner

    wow, might check out kickstarter now.