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Gas Powered: "Kickstarter has become about saving a company"

Gas Powered: "Kickstarter has become about saving a company"

Mon 21 Jan 2013 10:12am GMT / 5:12am EST / 2:12am PST
Development

Laid off employees start work on Wildman at troubled studio

As his former employees start work on Wildman for free, Gas Powered Games' CEO Chris Taylor has suggested that the company's Kickstarter campaign is no longer about supporting a single game, but saving the troubled company.

In a video update on Kickstarter he asks the supporters if he should continue the campaign for new title Wildman, despite the lay offs at the company. He's since told Polygon that campaign now goes way beyond getting one game made.

"It never occurred to me that the industry would rally like it did, and that people would then invest, not only in Wildman, but in helping me to save GPG and the team (in fact, it's probably the other way around, and I think the Kickstarter has become about saving a company and the game is a distant second),"

Gas Powered Games was forced to make "substantial" lay offs last week, following the end of its work on Age Of Empires Online.

"Gone are the days when you could just do whatever the heck you wanted and hope for the best!"

In his conversation with Polygon Taylor now seems more optimistic about the future, and the Kickstarter campaign has 25 days to go, with $831,506 still left to raise.

"I don't want to make any assumptions at this point, but things look much better, and I think it's still going to be a long road ahead, but we're prepared to work very hard to make this happen. And I'm already making phone calls and setting up meetings to talk to key people about coming back, to see the campaign through.At least now, everyone has their eyes wide open, no surprises."

Taylor is also responding to questions and criticism from backers, will mainly centre around how this will affect Gas Powered's former employees, in the campaign's comments.

"I've been in business long enough to know that all of this has to go past HR and be legal in the State of Washington. Gone are the days when you could just do whatever the heck you wanted and hope for the best!"

Those former employees are also contributing to the discussion, with some, like Matt Kehm, reporting that they are returning to work at the company despite being laid off.

"I was one of those laid off that will be back to work tomorrow regardless. I want to see this succeed. Chris went over it in his video update Friday, but the reason why he did not keep us longer was the fact that if he would have kept us on for the month, and the campaign failed, there would not be enough money left to give people severance packages. By laying people off now, everyone received severance pay."

"Many of us are returning to work tomorrow to make this campaign a success. For me, this goes beyond a paycheck. It is a company I love. I will do everything in my power to see that it does not close its doors."

11 Comments

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

480 451 0.9
Popular Comment
"Chris went over it in his video update Friday, but the reason why he did not keep us longer was the fact that if he would have kept us on for the month, and the campaign failed, there would not be enough money left to give people severance packages. By laying people off now, everyone received severance pay."
See, this is how a responsible company should be run. All the companies that have gone to the wall without paying salaries and redundancy payments in recent years could learn a lot from this.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Peter Ohlmann
Technical Director

22 6 0.3
GPG and Chris Taylor definitely deserve more support than the current pledges.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Peter Dunshee
Senior Software Development Engineer

1 0 0.0
+1
I've heard him speak before and was really impressed--values, etc. I have a lot of respect for him.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Steve Nicholls
Programmer

66 29 0.4
Is it wise to gamble peoples jobs on a new ip? I don't think its right to guilt trip people like this really... even if that is not the intention.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

952 180 0.2
Well said John, peoples careers and lives should not be gambled with. If you make a ship, make sure there are enough lifeboats in case of an emergency.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Tim Carter
Designer - Writer - Producer

564 311 0.6
WRONG!

Kickstarter is specifically about funding projects. NOT saving or floating or investing in companies.

This is what the game industry has NOT learned. It hasn't learned what project-based funding is about. To its detriment.

The game industry is an entertainment industry, but it clings to an operations-based business model. SORRY! You're not producing accounting software or widgets - you're making entertainment. It's a hit-based industry. Learn to live with it.

If I had contributed to a game project on Kickstarter, and the guy then went on to use my money to keep his gaming company afloat, I'd consider that verging on fraud.

Translation: Do what you have to do to make the PROJECT! You're making games, not playing mom to a crew of game developers. (If they haven't unionized yet, then maybe they should.)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 21st January 2013 8:59pm

Posted:A year ago

#6

Urs Schaub
3D modeller

13 5 0.4
he was at least honest about it und he asked the pledgers if he should have killed the kickstarter campaign or not.
So pledgers voted so this is hardly fraud, the people who invested with their pledges did vote...not really in our right to complain...

Posted:A year ago

#7

Steve Nicholls
Programmer

66 29 0.4
Exactly Tim, its about a product. I still think its shameful the way GPG have handled this. If you have such big problems then a Kickstarter is not going to help and they should look at the management. You should NOT be using the funds to keep your company afloat at all.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adrian Herber

69 23 0.3
@Tim and Steve: You're right of course that KS is about funding a project not a company, but the company sees another day if Wildman gets funded, people keep their jobs by being paid to make the KS project, so surely the problem you raise is a bit academic? It's not like the KS money is being used to finish a different game or something...

Posted:A year ago

#9
For many small companies, one project is all they have resources to concentrate on at any any specific time, so in essence that project is the company. If that project fails or the project gets pulled or funding dries up, the project and company are over. So I really dont see much difference here between what is happening with Wildman, and countless others projects on kickstarter.

Posted:A year ago

#10

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