Kickstarter users uncover fake project

Mythic: The Story Of Gods And Men campaign shuts down after accusations

A Kickstarter project by Little Monster Productions appears to have been a sham, with the developer closing the campaign after the community noticed stolen concept art and photography.

Something Awful users noted Little Monster Productions were fraudulently using work by fantasy artist Gonzalo Ordoņez Arias, images from Photoshop CS5 tutorial sites and replica weaponry manufacturer photos for its game Mythic: The Story Of Gods And Men, while shots of the company's office were actually from app developer Burton Design Group.

After users began calling foul play in the comments Little Monster Productions responded, before closing the campaign and deleting the company's Facebook and online presence.

"A few members of our team worked at Burton Design Group last year before they found out the owner was being shady with funds," the company tried to explain in comments.

"They left and joined our team shortly after. As for the concept art, it seems we have been subjected to false claims of ownership right to our concepts. The game itself is well in progress and is NOT a scam of any kind. Thank you for understanding. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask."

Claiming in its pitch to be a "team that left Activision / Blizzard in search of something better" Little Monster Productions was seeking $80,000 to fund the RPG. Promising the gameplay of World Of Warcraft and the visuals of Skyrim, the blurb also claimed Disney and Pixar would provide the animation. Seth Westfall appeared in a video on the site, calling himself a co-founder and called on "true gamers" to support the title.

"Help us make a triple-A title without letting a publisher go near it. Help us build something epic."

When it closed the project had raised $4,739 from 83 backers. Little Monster Productions could not be reached for comment.

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Latest comments (15)

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
Gameplay of WoW and visuals of Skyrim on $80k? Wow, sounds genuine right there. Maybe they should go in consultancy for budget management if they can do that.
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Rachel Weber Senior Editor, GamesIndustry.biz5 years ago
A key part of their business plan seemed to be getting their mate at Pixar to do the animation so...

But all joking aside, this is an issue that Kickstarter and potential pledgers need to be aware of. How long before scam emails are asking for support for RPGs rather than off shore bank accounts or churches?
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Jas Purewal Partner, Purewal & Partners5 years ago
It's going to be impossible for Kickstarter, or any other kind of crowdfunding platform, to stop this kind of activity on their platforms. The most they can do is ensure their T&Cs ban it and then rely upon consumers to essentially regulate crowdfunding pitches for them by calling duds - just like what happened here. Sooner or later this will lead to a lawsuit against the platform, which will have to defend itself against allegations it had a duty to maintain minimum standards by each crowdfunding offering.
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Show all comments (15)
I noticed a few Kickstarter projects closing down, and wonder if the pledged funds get reimbursed if the target goal is achieved and cashed in (but is a sham/dubious in nature).

Overall it might give legitimate indies and Kickstarter a bad whiff of a bad smell/taint.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 1st May 2012 10:37am

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James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd5 years ago
The pledged money isn't taken from your account until the agreed sum has been raised and the duration of the Kickstarter appeal has run its course.

As with anything like this, you have to be as sure as you can that it's legit before you sign up -- there will always be scammers about. But $80k for WoW meets Skyrim? Sounds dodgy right from the start to me.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 5 years ago
And the simple answer is "no" - if a project reaches its goal, the project donees get the money. What they then do with it is entirely up to them. They could blow the whole lot on a Mexican vacation, and there would be no legal recourse. I double-checked this myself recently in response to a project that hit trouble, and was kind of shocked.

This is (supposed to be) why Kickstarter vets projects before they go up for funding - to pick the best and most promising projects, and cast at least a wary eye over possible scams. It would seem that control is slipping.
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@ Antony - Thanks. Thats what I wanted to confirm. I.e Once the funds have bee greenlit, and objective achieved, there is no legal recourse to what happens to the donated funds.

Eg. Lets say Promising project X promised to send a gloss artbook to every donee. But blew all the funds on making a vertical slice demo and say 3 years down the line, gets cancelled, I'm guessing the donees dont see anything...
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Paolo Giunti Localisation Project Manager, GlobaLoc GmbH5 years ago
A very likely possibility.
It's actually all down to what the developers can do (and want to do) to make it up to the donees.
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Perhaps some sort of joint/universal template with T&Cs could be looked into via Kickstarter, although there will probably be local legal nuances that would need tailoring
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany5 years ago
To those who backed this project: making a game with Skyrim visuals and WoW gameplay for only 80.000$?. Don't you think that something like that would already exist IF IT COULD BE DONE?

Sorry, but you need to be really naive to fall into that.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 5 years ago
@Chee - The donors have no recourse, exactly. It all works on an honour system.

In theory, the "reputation economy" is supposed to kick in - i.e., rip off your donors and your name will be mud all over the Internet for ever more. Of course, if you already have a few million dollars in the bank, you might not care what the Internet thinks of you...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Antony Johnston on 2nd May 2012 12:13pm

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
@Chee. The ToCs state that the project must offer a refund if they can not offer the reward, so I guess there should be recourse there. I'd guess a sham project would see the company liquidating and make it very hard to get anything, but that's not unique to kickstarter.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 5 years ago
@Andrew: Expected to offer a refund, not must.

"A failure to do so could result in damage to your reputation or even legal action on behalf of your backers." - just not through Kickstarter itself, so good luck with that.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 5 years ago
And hey, don't get me wrong - I love Kickstarter, and I've backed several projects through it. But caveat emptor, and all that.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
The thing about Kickstarter is, like any otherwise great idea, the more people that use it for funding, the more chance that yes, jerk-asses such as the scammers noted here will try and get in on the action. This may, if it happens too often, force Kickstarter to spend more time vetting projects or perhaps hire more staff who are gamers to help vet these projects.
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