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.