News Article

Areal Campaign Suspended By Kickstarter

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

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]

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User Comments (42)

FragRed

#1

FragRed said:

FINALLY! Took Kickstarter long enough to take action. But at least they suspended the campaign.

Tsurii897

#3

Tsurii897 said:

They probably didn't do anything about it til now, BECAUSE they reached their goal. To prevent the people who actually fell for it from losing their money.

I think the people, who're responsible for this on Kickstarter didn't bother because they expected it to fail, considering how dubious this is/was, and would've taken down a possible second campaign immediately.
That's what I would've done at least ;)

FragRed

#4

FragRed said:

@Tsurii897 The problem with doing things that way is that now it brings far too much bad media attention Kickstarter's way and just raises more concerns over the whole crowd funding idea as it currently is.

Captain_Gonru

#5

Captain_Gonru said:

@FragRed But, perhaps more concerns SHOULD be raised. Maybe this will be the tipping point that forces this and other crowd-funding sites to implement better procedures.
As for this case, I haven't heard every detail, but if they have the money already, and can deliver what they promised, does this "shutdown" even matter?

Mega719

#7

Mega719 said:

"Earlier this week" you mean like yesterday... But seriously glad this was finally suspended this is a scam to make money. Too bad though because i didn't know about STALKER before this the "footage" shown looked cool to me

ekreig

#8

ekreig said:

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they...don't...fund...for you...

ShadJV

#9

ShadJV said:

So this was suspended but they are just letting someone raise $60,000+ to make potato salad? Kickstarter's priorities confuse me.

brandonbwii

#10

brandonbwii said:

Too bad that didn't do this for Mighty No. 9. Inafune was smarter about taking our money.

BigH88

#12

BigH88 said:

@ShadJV wait what? Is that for real? Potato salad? I make some killer salsa. Wonder how much I'd get from Kickstarter to make it. :)

SylveonLover

#20

SylveonLover said:

Wow, "West Games" is guilty of almost all of those offences. I can't believe it took Kickstarter so long to put an end to the campaign.

9th_Sage

#21

9th_Sage said:

They still blame everyone BUT themselves...which of course, is where the blame should truly be laid. It's weird how they say things like 'our competitors were trying to stop us'...what on Earth are they talking about? I can't even think of anything that would make that make some kind of sense.

By the way, don't expect to see on that Facebook page any negative comments, not for long anyway. They've already deleted a few. I guess they can't handle the criticism of people saying 'Oh dear, I'm kind of scared to donate anything to you guys at this point.'

JoakimZ

#23

JoakimZ said:

Probably because they claimed that Vladimir Putin pledged the last $30 000.

Birthday_Boy

#25

Birthday_Boy said:

Considering it took $75,000 to make the most basic form of Shovel Knight and $500,000 to make Renegade Kid's FPS, I highly question of anyone can make a "AAA" multiconsole FPS with only $50,000

ToniK

#26

ToniK said:

Now they have a donation website. It would be really sad if they were in fact for real and now it's ruined :P I'm not saying they are but in these internet times it's sometimes next to impossible to get reliable info and when the snowball starts rolling...

Laxeybobby

#27

Laxeybobby said:

They have a new video on the website home page, which introduces you to all the team and they introduce themselves and their role within the team & game. (Including the script writer of Stalker series). It also takes you inside their studio. Make of it what you will.

WinterWarm

#29

WinterWarm said:

@FragRed What the ****? Kickstarter is in the wrong here morally, not West Games, WG did nothing wrong except being located in Ukraine, which drew hate from irrational Russian and pro-Russian radicals. What message exactly did you mean for your comment to convey?

WaLzgiStaff

#31

WaLzgi said:

@ShadJV Because that Kickstarter is in no way a violation of its terms. That particular campaign just shows how stupid some people are with their money...

Shambo

#33

Shambo said:

And what if the update is completely honest? I believe it may very well be. It could also explain why they chose to claim that they're America based. I can understand what doubt and frustration they must be going through if they are honest and the media keeps spreading lies about them.

And if they are truely making a successor to STALKER, for Wii U no less, I'd really like to play it. So if you doubt them, don't support them, but stop trying to destroy them. It's like fanboy-ism. Stop hating what you simply don't praise sky-high, when you can simply leave it be without there being further victims.

BoobooMama

#34

BoobooMama said:

This campaign was an obvious scam. It took Kickstarter long enough, but at least they shut it down.

SahashraLA

#35

SahashraLA said:

Stoeffer's is a part of a multinational chain that produces premade food for distribution through grocery stores.
They don't use the best ingredients, just a midline run of lower end, consumer driven product. Aka, something accessible, affordable and with a longer shelf life.
I'd say, creating homemade, well sourced potato salad, or salsa or pizza and starting a KS to get distro isn't the most terrible idea.
I've seen EVERYTHING on KS. EVERYTHING.
From food trucks to restaurants, from songs to albums, from musical tours to video games, from recipes to tech, from toys to safety.. it's all on there.
The responsibility is on the people to determine legitimacy.
But what about this: what if West Games put 14k towards their own project to get that extra 50k? What would stop them from taking the money and running.
Or, MUCH worse.. doing it again?
From what I've heard, they don't own the rights to STALKER, hence the term spiritual sequel.
So why did they think showing video of a game they don't have rights to on their KS, like they have a right to do so?
It sounds like the KS may have been a cover to help deal with legal fees and not a legitimate gaming venture, but those are just my views.

SahashraLA

#36

SahashraLA said:

@Shambo
And what if it is entirely honest? Why not be honest all along? Death threats, right? So why not say something months ago?
Why the wait?
It's like hitting a pedestrian with your car and not saying anything about it until the cops find the body, show up at your house and accuse you of said act. The entire campaign has felt very sensational and many accompanying accounts seem to be in direct opposition to each other.
I don't care what the commenters are saying. I've never played these 'great' games the West team worked on. From just what the team themselves have said throughout the KS, Project Areal has felt anything but authentic.

element187

#37

element187 said:

They claimed they built their own proprietary engine..... They showed off Unity... Not only did they shown off Unity, they used all the default assets that came with Unity..... That latest "gameplay" video used 100% assets and animations from Unity.

The kickstarter cash was to be paid out to a Leonid V. In Las Vegas, who is related to Max V, also in Las Vegas, Who was the pay out person for another failed kickstarter called Space Pioneer. Coincidently I'm sure, Space Pioneer used the same lofty promises and goals for very little money without anything to show. Space Pioneer switched to accepting paypal donations as well when the kickstarter failed.

I think it's an entire scam ring to put up as many projects as they can so they can collect money from gullible gamers who really want to believe in them with all their heart.

kensredemption

#38

kensredemption said:

@Xamorus No problem. Although, I did find it a little concerning that they deleted my comment concerning Wii U gameplay and blocked me from commenting on future posts. Then again, I don't exactly come off as neutral to most people. Ha ha ha.

WinterWarm

#40

WinterWarm said:

@Jazzer94

What do you mean 'believe'? It's undeniable!

Russia invaded Crimea( A Ukrainian territory ) temporarily, and then left, but not before they riled up pro-Russian rebels in the region, so now Ukraine has a rebel force consisting of its own citizens backed by Russia, as is evident with the downing of the Malaysian flight, which was flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet, the rebels had previously only possessed missiles capable of reaching 5,000 feet, however the plane was shot down in Ukraine air space by a surface-to-air missile system later confirmed by analysts to be a BUK Launcher, a BUK Launcher's missiles are capable of reaching 60,000+ feet, furthermore, Russia openly admits to owning BUK Launcher systems, although obviously they denied supplying the Ukrainian rebels with any. Over 290 people died on that flight.

So, yes, in the same way some Europeans( Not whole nations, but rather individuals ) support ISIS, an extreme Islamic group in the Middle East that currently controls a significant portion on Syria, it's not insane to 'believe' certain parties and or peoples would be extreme enough to threaten a Ukrain-based developer simply for being just that: A Ukraine-based developer, it's a different racism than what's usual in the U.S. A news YouTube channel named The Young Turks has done an excellent job covering the crisis in Ukraine, if you'd care to learn more.

@Unca_Lz I can't speak for 'originally' as this is the first I'd heard of this, all I know is they said in their response they were based in Ukraine... Perhaps they also have an office here, I was given the impression they were a small, independent company, however.

Jazzer94

#41

Jazzer94 said:

@WinterWarm These people were stealing assets directly and photoshopping pictures from the start they are a bunch of compulsive liars and the reason why kickstarter in its current form doesn't work when scammers are allowed to run wild and a person can rake in thousands to make potato salad for himself.

Stolen assets.
http://wiiudaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/areal-2.png?8c1496
Photoshoppped image

http://wiiudaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/west-games-fraud.png?8c1496

WinterWarm

#42

WinterWarm said:

@Jazzer94 Well yes, that does change the situation considerably, doesn't it... All I'm saying is, fraud or not, I still think this was somewhat political.

Also whatever people freely give money to fund is entirely their choice, but yes, it does seem unfair one man receives $60,000.00 for potato salad while ingenious independent artists( music, video games, film ) struggle financially.

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