Funding a game on Kickstarter can be risky, and while there’s been a lot of attention poured on games like Star Citizen for failing to deliver on time, there’s now real concern about CIA’s Project Phoenix which raised over $1 million back in 2013.
The game was sold to backers as a PC JRPG that would release on Steam and featured AAA talent. It came with a very convincing pitch video (see below)and it’s easy to understand why fans of the genre backed a game with names that have worked on games such as Final Fantasies, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Valkyria Chronicles, L.A. Noire, Diablo III, Halo 4, and Crysis 3,
More than two years on the from the campaign completion the game is still nowhere to be seen and it was expected to be released mid-2015. Today an update was posted by the team which announced that the game could take another two and half years to complete which would take it to 2018.
The delays appear to be related to time and the amount of commitment from team members who are not working on it full time. The project has also lacked a lead developer to push the development forward, although according to today’s update, a programmer has now been found but he won’t be able to commit to the project for another two months due to other work.
With all these delays it’s not surprising backers had almost given up hope and a note in this latest update pleads with backers not to take any legal action following news they will not be offering refunds as the project is still on-going.
“We know a lot of people are disappointed with the delays and organization of Project Phoenix. We are not considering refunds at this time. To initiate refunds is to give up on the project since there would be no money left to complete it. If we make the decision to call it quits then we will work out some kind of remediation with backers at that time. Until then we are pressing on.”
In a later response, Director and Producer Hiroaki Yura added:
“I agree this must be very frustrating for you, and I apologise profusely, but we are making best efforts. Once somebody starts taking legal action, that’ll definitely be the end of the project as we won’t be able to legally defend ourselves, some portion of the money has been spent in production and others planned into our budget. So I pray that no one does that.”
One of the main reasons development on this game is stalling is that the team are working on a royalty basis to keep costs down. The problem a working on a royalty basis is that the team can not be fully committed to development due to work commitments on other game projects.
To be fair to CIA, one of the main risks they cited at the start of the campaign was “programming the game”. The risk statement reads:
“Programming is, by far, the most important part of a video game. It’s difficult to find someone with the programming skills necessary for this endeavour. Luckily, we have industry veterans on staff who are reliable, not only in the art of programming, but also in the art of project management.”
It appears that this has been one of the stumbling blocks for the project.
Funding a project on Kickstarter, or any other crowdfunding platform, is a risk and Project Phoenix is just another reminder of that. Who knows, perhaps the game will get made but we’ll have to wait until 2018 to find out.