News Article

Areal Passes Kickstarter Goal, Yet More Peculiarities and Questions Remain

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. developers claim support from Vladimir Putin

A while ago we wrote about a Kickstarter campaign from developers (West Games) claiming to be those behind S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Metro: Last Light, with the Wii U raised as a target. It then all got rather peculiar, as the credentials of the studio were called into question, with much of the pitch video being existing footage of another title and criticism inevitably following. There's also been debate over whether the backers are who they claim to be — the studio is listed as being in Las Vegas in the pitch, though has now said the team is in Ukraine, as expected for the group spinning off from those aforementioned franchises; a front-man and business partner is the recipient of the funding money, which naturally raises some concerns.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, yet it has become stranger still. Late last week a brief — and in our view relatively ropey — gameplay video was released, which you can see below.

Over the weekend we then received an email — along with many other outlets — from Eugene Kim, founder and CEO of West Games. It claimed that Vladimir Putin has sent them a message stating his daughter had told him about the campaign, and that he'd like access to play the game's Alpha, when available. To say it strained credibility is an understatement, and is one of the most peculiar press emails we've ever received; assuming it's an attempt at clever PR gimmickry, rather than a real letter, it's in poor taste considering ongoing events in Ukraine.

We now have the surprising news that, after a long spell stuck with no funding momentum, the game has surged past its $50,000 goal to reach over $64,000. When you look at Kicktraq, however, nearly $26,000 was raised in two days, yet there were only two new backers; amazingly there were no backers on Sunday when $13,914 was added, suggesting existing backers simply upped their donations. There have also been over 5000 comments on the campaign page over the weekend, mostly spam.

West Games may claim that, following wealthy backers taking it to success on Saturday, existing backers that had lowered pledges during all of the controversy simply flooded back to re-affirm support. Whatever the truth, it's been a peculiar saga.

Assuming all is on the level, Areal should be coming to Wii U in the second half of 2015.

[via eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (35)

Prof_Clayton

#1

Prof_Clayton said:

This... seems like a scam to me. Doesn't look legit at all. I'd never put any money near this, ever.

Kroisos

#3

Kroisos said:

I hope that everyone expect for the large donators who are clearly in on it with them wise up and cancel their pledges, leaving Areal to pay the Kickstarter fees out of their own pockets, because I'm guessing their associates will want all of their money paid back. In one of the updates they gave an "explanation" for why they are raising money without gaining backers: apparently a number of people created two accounts, pledging with both, so that when someone else pledges they can cancel one and keep the total from rising. Completely believable.

MAB

#5

MAB said:

Dodgy or not, the Wii U needs more games... Even if they explode after we download them and kill us all ;)

onery

#6

onery said:

You guys seen their latest updates? One of them was apparently a letter from Putin endorsing the game and the latest is a complete whining taunt of a child who thinks he's getting away with something he shouldn't be...

I'd rather they make the game without the KS funds. Since they've been 'pooling their resources' together, it shouldn't be too hard to keep on going until they have an "early-access copy" to suck money from Steam naives.

Mega719

#7

Mega719 said:

I'll play it if it's real but we need a explanation on what has been happening. For now this appears to be a scam for these people to make money they probably haven't even started

ricklongo

#8

ricklongo said:

Man, I'm glad this is a first-person shooter and not, say, a collect-a-thon 3D platformer or medieval RPG. This way I get to sit back and just amuse myself watching the drama unfold, whereas I'd be facing quite the dilemma or backing it or not if one of my favorite genres had been chosen. EIther way, I probably wouldn't bite; this definitely looks like a huge scam.

ylitvinenko

#14

ylitvinenko said:

I've already made this comment on another sites, but I am going to double it here. That picture of Putin's letter (http://nintendoeverything.com/wp-content/uploads/1405937912.jpg) is clearly a fake. I am Russian, and I can say that the text is stylistically unprofessional and contains a lot of punctuational and orphographical errors ("проэкт" instead of "проект", this is grade school error). Besides, fonts look messed up too.

What doggeypoopielousy developers they are. Instead of making a good game, they make a soap opera.

Action51

#15

Action51 said:

S.T.A.L.K.E.R is a real series of games that you can purchase on STEAM...that's what makes this so strange, can't someone contact the actual developer and get to the bottom of this?

Kifa

#16

Kifa said:

This is even below tasteless. My guess is we're looking at another project that will never come out, the developers will blame anyone and everyone for that except themselves, and a lot of kickstarter followers will loose their money.

Letter from Vladimir Putin... Geeez...

OorWullie

#17

OorWullie said:

@Action51 The company that developed S.T.A.L.K.E.R have since broken up and formed Vostok Games.When they were asked about West Games they said they had no knowledge of them and that they had never worked with them before and warned backers that this was a scam.They posted this on either a forum or their own website (cant remember?) but then later removed it,which West Games then used as proof that they must be for real.Now it seems they've opened new accounts to spam the comment section so none of the comments questioning its validity can be found,perhaps forgetting that it's being covered by all the main gaming sites.

If this miraculously does prove to be genuine then I'll eat my Wii Remote+ ;)

MegaAdam

#18

MegaAdam said:

NL,

This is perhaps the sort of story you should be digging into, and if need be, warning your readers that they're likely to lose their money backing what amounts to an obvious scam.

MoonKnight7

#19

MoonKnight7 said:

On all levels, this seems beyond shady. Literally everything about it has question marks.

WaLzgiStaff

#20

WaLzgi said:

@MegaAdam Before anyone puts their money into something like Kickstarter, they should check themselves the authenticity.

ToniK

#21

ToniK said:

I'm extremely sceptical and didn't back them up. Still I really really hope this is real. I don't know, someone reliable should investigate this. I really want to know.

outburst

#22

outburst said:

Good luck to you all who support kickstarter projects. There's so many yet there are only a handful who are legit or who will have a successful/good product in the end. Meanwhile, I'll just buy the final product if it's awesome.

I hate it that this is becoming the norm/trend. They'll just ask the backers for money first then add their money later even though they have the money in the first place. It's the backers who are to blame for those scam kickstarter projects and at the same time to thank for those legit kickstarter projects.

midnafanboy

#23

midnafanboy said:

Hmm this scam is still going,let's see what happens when the game is made and released for the wiiu and for the other platforms.

TromboneGamer

#25

TromboneGamer said:

They never said that putin supports their game. In an update on their kickstarter it was stated that they simply have no verifcation on whether this is a joke or not. This PR team is really bad, and that's putting it lightly, but I don't think they have ill intentions.

epicdude12302

#27

epicdude12302 said:

If they seriously think that having Putin back them (especially Russia supplied the weapons that brought that plane in Ukraine down), then they're crazy!
@MAB: Better not give them any ideas!

JarredBuzzo

#28

JarredBuzzo said:

Well, I dropped support after reading this news. If it turns out to be real I'll check it out then...

Morph

#29

Morph said:

So any chance the funds from this could be going the war effort over there?

BertoFlyingFox

#33

BertoFlyingFox said:

No thanks, I dont back spam-bots. I'll stick to reading all the dumb PR they could come up with through gaming site articles.

If they are really not involved with each other in any way, Vostok Games is doing a crap-job at expressing that. They need to release a statement clarifying this junk and stop fawning over the game they're making that's 2 years away. Another company is saying they are you....rectify it you fools!

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