CIA Inc's crowdfunded RPG Project Phoenix has been delayed until the end of 2018, more than five years after it raised more than $1 million from almost 16,000 people on Kickstarter.
Project Phoenix blitzed its $100,000 target in August 2013, at which point the ambitious project was slated for release in March 2015. However, all of that extra money has made little or no impact on the speed or efficiency of development. CIA Inc's backers are in for a wait - and a long one at that.
According to a report from Kotaku, one of the major issues has been securing the services of an experienced programmer. Initially, the team expected to bring in Moon Studios' David Clark, who was working on Ori and the Blind Forest at the time the Project Phoenix Kickstarter finished. That game was also delayed, however, and Clark was unable to join as planned.
Hiroaki Yura, game director of Project Phoenix, said, "All that time, we were being told that he'd hop over to the project, but ended up not being able to when we reached April, 2015." CIA Inc has been actively searching for programmers since February at least, though questions can rightly be asked about why the company waited beyond the game's promised release date to fill such a crucial position on the team.
"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"
In an update this week, CIA Inc confirmed that it does have a programmer, albeit one with other work commitments for the next two months. It is now looking for other programmers to fill that gap, but Project Phoenix is still 2.5 years from completion. "We are expecting early 2018 for a finalized build and 6 months for testing after that," Yura said.
Speaking to Kotaku, Yura expressed a desire to take the time to execute to the right standard, despite the length of the delay. "Unfortunately, as we are making this game part time, and the scope of the game has been increased a lot, and since this is the first game I'm directing, I'd really like to take time and make sure I'm delivering especially when I'm already so late."
The uncertainty around Project Phoenix arrives shortly after a study showed that almost 10 per cent of all Kickstarter projects never lead to a finished product. That isn't the case here at present, but the admission that "the scope of the game has been increased a lot" is unlikely to sit well with backers who expected a playable game in March, and probably didn't have a say in that increase in scope. As Rob Fahey explained in a column published today, situations like this highlight the difference between what Kickstarter is supposed to be and how it is seen by those who donate their money.
With that in mind, CIA Inc has turned away suggestions of offering refunds to those tired of the delays. "We know a lot of people are disappointed with the delays and organization of Project Phoenix. We are not considering refunds at this time," he said. "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."