West Games has not received the best publicity for their Kickstarter game Areal, and objectively speaking, they also have not taken to the criticism either. Today, however, they have crossed a line that no one should give them the benefit of the doubt on.
Believe it or not, this issue can be considered independently of whether Areal is a scam or not. What this is is it sets a precedent for bad game developer behavior that other game makers really should not emulate, lest online networks for gamers become a total war zone.
If you aren’t familiar with Areal, or may have only heard part of the story, here’s the necessary context. Areal was initially pitched as a game in development by former developers of STALKER. Some other entities, including Vostok Games and Misery Inc, came out to criticize and question these claims, and a cloud of doubt has hung over the project ever since.
Now here’s the important part. A big deal of West Games’ problems, which they have alluded to in priot Kickstarter updates, are the comments they’ve received from many of their own backers. Apparently, many of these people contributed relatively small amounts, and then used the opportunity to openly tell others to pull their pledges and trash Areal and West Games. If you go back, you will see that West Games have admitted to an inability to control the situation.
Now, it’s a few days before the campaign will end, and the game has been fully funded. For whatever reason, West Games’ latest post has gone on the warpath, attacking Forbes and VG 24/7 for their critical coverage of their campaign.
And then, they went after these trolls. West Games claims they found one of their commenters doxxed all the people who mercilessly trolled their campaign, and West Games put that info up for everyone to see. There seem to be some actual troll accounts here, but also some real accounts that may have themselves been hacked into. As always, there is some reasonable doubt.
There are a few things that are clearer now from the project however. One is that there are some genuine backers who want Areal get made, and are not listening to all the critics because they believe in West Games. Unfortunately, another truth that has emerged is that West Games seems incapable of running their Kickstarter or dealing with the public in a professional manner.
We may very well see Areal be the game West Games says it will be, and more. However, they have taken the wrong course of action at the tail end of their Kickstarter campaign here, when they could have sought assistance from Kickstarter, the authorities, etc. in handling the escalating situation. For the sake of the earnest backers, I hope the game gets delivered, but I myself am personally no longer supportive of the people at West Games.