Kickstarter, as always, has been seeing good press and hype recently. The site, which allows interested fans to pledge money to get projects they like up-and-running, continues to astound with the things it has brought to the world. Of course, with any business on this scale, there will be bad eggs. That isn’t to say that System Shock is that bad egg — only that it’s showing the early signs of Kickstarters that have broken our hearts in the past. Namely, the developers of the System Shock remake have put it on hiatus for an estimated two years.
System Shock and its Hiatus
System Shock, at least in this context, is the “rebooting and re-imagining” of the 1994 classic. The Kickstarter reached a staggering $1.3 million in pledges, from over 21,000 backers. All those eager to see the game freshened up, though, have received bad news in the recent update from Stephen Kick, CEO of Nightdive Studios.
In his update, Kick wrote: “Ultimately the responsibility for the decisions rests with me. As the CEO and founder of Nightdive Studios, a company that was built on the restoration of the System Shock franchise, I let things get out of control. I can tell you that I did it for all the right reasons, that I was totally committed to making a great game, but it has become clear to me that we took the wrong path…”
In their article, Polygon has stated that anonymous sources cite “mission creep” and ambitious goals as major points sapping all of the Kickstarter money. Kuperman, director of business development, gave a rough 18-to-24 month estimate until the studio would release the remaster. They apparently plan to use money from the sales of other games to fuel the future work on System Shock.
System Shock has a lot to follow through on, and that will obviously take time. However, delays like this stoke fears of a subtle stop to development.
In November last year, for example, we had the fiasco with Project Phoenix. The director of Project Phoenix, Hiroaki Yura, raised $1M from a Kickstarter for a game he had promised to develop. However, allegations were later levelled against him by developer Tariq Lacy in since deleted posts. Yura was accused of cancelling development altogether, while buying new office and staff to work on another game. Yura’s response was that the Kickstarter was used on the alpha build and that money for the new game came from Australian investors. However, the question marks raised by this battle (and the enormous delay in the game’s release) remind us of just how little we really know about where money from Kickstarter ends up.
While System Shock is not necessarily a repeat of Project Phoenix, the latter remains a reminder of how poorly situations like this can turn out for pledgers. The odds are probably in our favour, as Kickstarter’s rules state that all projects which reach their goals must be completed, and that all rewards need to be given. Of course, the quality of the final product is also largely subjective. So while System Shock’s delay stings, this is hopefully a decision in the best interest of rectifying errors in budgeting and ensuring a brighter future for the game’s release.