In the latest effort to reverse their negative PR, the people behind the Areal Kickstarter took to Reddit at the weekend for an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session. Unfortunately, this AMA doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect. Every single one of the West Games answers from Eugene Kim and former GSC World and Vostok Games developer Alexey Sytyanov has received a negative rating.
The AMA wasn’t a bad idea in itself. West Games could’ve used the opportunity to be extremely open about their development process and financing goals, but instead very quickly began to fall back on copy-pasting the same unsatisfactory answers they’d given in the past.
Any reference to the goal of $50,000 USD, for example, received this identical answer:
We’ve pooled all of our savings into making Areal, and don’t have funds to go any further. Unlike most companies, every one of our employees has invested their time and money into making Areal. The budget that we’ve pooled together covers salaries and some aspects of game development. We need the Kickstarter and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. community to support us by helping us cover the rest. Marketing also makes up a huge portion of most budgets, so we will rely on internal marketing as well as word of mouth to lower those costs substantially … The fact is that we have a start up, we already have fans, plus we ourselves are fans of what we’re doing, so we don’t need big salaries. We need an opportunity to do, create, promote and make the world a more exciting place. That’s why we did not force up our salaries and expenses [onto the community].
Fair enough, but people don’t show up to an AMA expecting the same response copy-pasted from a Kickstarter update that already left them with additional questions.
In fact, as already revealed by Kim in a Russian language interview with Games-TV, the $50,000 USD is actually required to attract publisher attention. An Areal backer translated the quote from the video as follows:
The game’s producer explicitly told us that the success of reaching the 50,000 mark is meant entirely to show off in front of investors. Factually, that money is needed only to attract the “real” big cash, because the development of this game of such a game would cost much more than a million dollars.
It’s this kind of discrepancy of message which is hurting the Areal project. Why not respond to the Reddit questions with information that $50,000 USD is being targeted as a means to generate “real” investment interests, if that’s the truth of the matter? Why persist with a vague, non-answer copy-pasted from a prior Kickstarter update? Only West Games know the answer to that.
People still have legitimate concerns and queries about the whole project, in spite of Alexey Sytyanov’s recent involvement. Very few, if any, of those concerns were alleviated during the AMA session. In fact, the main result may have been to generate more pledges for the potato salad Kickstarter than for Areal.
The Areal team has another nine days in which to secure around $15,000 USD in funding. They need a miraculous turn-around in public perception to make that happen, but their obfuscatory approach shows few signs of changing.