Areal Campaign Suspended By Kickstarter

Update: West Games responds

Update: West Games has issued the following statement:

Our Kickstarter was suspended without any warning. As per Kickstarter’s policy, we cannot contact them to find out why. Areal is the spiritual successor to STALKER, in terms of our vision for it and in terms of the team that we have (which includes Alexey Sytyanov, the lead game designer and screenwriter for STALKER). You can find out more about us and our team on our website: http://areal.west-games.com/ From the very beginning, we showed what we have accomplished, and showed the atmosphere for what we want to accomplish.

The fact is that there are a lot of companies that make their livelihood on STALKER, so when we showed up on the scene, they saw us as a threat and did everything that they could to stop us. People also need to take into account that Ukrainians and Russians are in an information war right now, and as a Ukrainian developer, we were subject to constant hostility from Russian Kickstarter accounts (we even got death threats). There are over 16,000 comments on our Kickstarter, which is unprecedented for the amount of supporters that we have, and a lot of our comments are hate filled. Some sites, in light of this, chose to report based on sources from direct competitors or from the myriad of comments based on lies. Others chose a neutral ground, because of the confusing situation around us, and still others wrote positively about us.

All in all, more than a 1,000 news results come up when you type in “Areal Kickstarter” on Google. After Vice news wrote an article about us, people started contributing every minute, but Kickstarter was afraid of the controversy surrounding our project, so they suspended funding. We set our base goal at 50K; even with 2 days left, we raised more than 64 thousand dollars, and our competitors were doing everything that they could to stop that. Kickstarter is a business, and that was their decision. We were not warned, we do not have a say in the matter, we cannot notify our backers, we cannot message our backers, and we can’t post updates anymore. That is how Kickstarter chose to act.

We are the creators of STALKER, and we know that we can make Areal even better than that series, because of advances in technology, gameplay mechanics, and story. We need your support to make that happen, so we have opened up a website wherein we will continue to raise funds. We ask all supporters of Areal who read this, to please head over to our site and contribute there. PayPal is used for safe checkout, but you do not need a PayPal account to donate. Thank you for your understanding.


Original Story: Earlier this week we reported that Areal had passed its Kickstarter goal, a campaign from West Games that claimed to have key developers from S.T.A.L.K.E.R working on the project. As we also highlighted, however, the project has been mired in controversy and bizarre circumstances over the past week, with the manner of its sudden boost in funding joining the lengthy list of peculiar events.

The latest twist is that, being just days away from closing, the campaign has now been suspended by Kickstarter. Kotaku got in touch with Kickstarter and was given no details, but merely directed to an area of the site's FAQ section that says the following.

Why would a project be suspended?

A project may be suspended if our Trust & Safety team uncovers evidence that it is in violation of one or more of Kickstarter's rules, including:

— Misrepresentation of support, through self-pledging

— Misrepresentation or failure to disclose relevant facts about the project or its creator

— The creator provides inaccurate or incomplete user information to Kickstarter or one of our partners

— The characteristics of the creator account overlap with the characteristics of backer accounts that pledged to their project

— A party related to the creator is posing as an independent, supportive party in project comments or elsewhere

— The creator is presenting someone else’s work as their own

— The creator is offering purchased items, claiming to have made them

More information is available within our rules and Terms of Use.

It brings this messy saga to a close, though it wouldn't surprise us if West Games disputes or challenges the suspension. Overall it's been one of the messiest campaigns on the service, in terms of generating negative press, though it should be pointed out that the crowdfunding site has made a number of excellent products possible in the past couple of years.

As for this campaign, it's been more unreal than Areal.

[via kickstarter.com, kotaku.com]