It’s been a while. Crowdfunding Fraudsters is a recurring column here at MMO Fallout where I look at campaigns on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Gofundme that, in my opinion, need a good going over with a fine tooth comb. The use of the term fraudster does not imply malice, but rather the idea that the creator is not who he or she is represented to be, be that a skilled developer or businessperson.
Today’s subject is the Asheron’s Call Resurrection project, a Gofundme with a goal of $2 million looking to purchase/license the Asheron’s Call property off of Warner Bros as Turbine is ending support and the official servers are being shut down in January. As of this publishing, the campaign has managed to pull in $1,500 from 18 people (see above), an average of $83 per person, and several updates on the official Facebook page claim that the group has been in contact with Warner Bros. and that things are looking pretty good.
And here we come to problem number one: The goal of $2 million is a placeholder. I’ve spoken about this on pretty much every CF article attempting to crowdfund purchasing an IP, it is a horrible idea to set a goal without having an idea on how much you’ll be paying or confirmation that the company even has any intention of accepting such a deal. Let’s say for example that, by some grace of god, this group manages to just barely miss the $2 million mark by fifty grand, only for negotiations with Warner Bros. to hit a low end of $4 million and refuse to go lower. Guess who isn’t getting the IP? Guess who isn’t getting their money back? This also assumes that the claims are true that Warner Bros. is even interested in starting negotiations.
As far as the fundraising goes, sure, you can sit on that cash and wait for it to hopefully, one day, maybe perhaps hit the goal, but who is to say that Warner Bros. will be on board by that point? Corporations hate when you waste their time with pointless acquisition deals that go nowhere, especially when you wasted the time and money of their lawyers and officials the first time around. Negotiations like this die at the drop of a hat from very simple missteps, or say publicity that sheds a bad light on your ability to follow through, especially when one side is talking about it as much as this group is. Loose lips sink ships.
But Connor, you say, why would they be so unaccommodating on an IP that they probably have no intent on using? Why would it be so pricey? Well, the thing about companies is that they don’t operate on the same level of thinking as you or I, their unused properties aren’t treated like that couch taking up room in the garage that’s starting to smell, to be left in the street corner with a “free” sign and hope that somebody takes it. Unless the company is in dire need of money, they don’t look at their property on the grounds of “better something than nothing.” They also look at potential buyers and size them up based on their perceived competency and generally won’t just license/sell away properties to a ragtag, loosely connected group of developers, even if the money is good.
Barring the question of funding, I can’t imagine that Warner Bros. will want to do business once they see the level of stark immaturity on display from these groups. I’ve spoken before about how these resurrection projects tend to be led by individuals with massive and fragile egos, explaining why Crowdfunding Fraudsters has already racked up a couple of baseless lawsuit threats, and already the “save Asheron’s Call” community has split in half with both sides having Facebook tantrums and block wars. The focal point of the argument is, naturally, that the crowdfunding effort is incompetent at best, maybe a little shady, and possibly just an attempt to piggyback off of nostalgia to grind some cash out of desperate fans.
But don’t just take my word for it, take a look at these gems out of the horse’s mouth itself.
Dustin removed my post and posting ability on the Resurrection page within minutes. If you want your money wasted, make sure to donate to the unofficial Gofundme with no official resources, backers or direction. AKA, get your money stolen. (Source)
Our communications with Dustin and Justin were met with a lot of double talk and misleading information. Additionally, I felt that the GoFundMe efforts are extremely premature, and there is no solid evidence that what is being said, and the amount needed is accurately portrayed. (Source)
So here you have a nobody asking for $2 million in the hopes that he might actually divert what may or may not be sufficient funding for an acquisition that the property owner hasn’t given any real indication of being willing to sell. $2 million that, barring a philanthropic millionaire, will never be raised because Asheron’s Call doesn’t have anywhere near the following required to support random money being thrown at a person to pitch a buyout. The Gofundme has been up for 8 days and brought in 18 pledges. If you were waiting for an Earth-shattering kaboom, it would have happened by now.
Put it this way: The City of Heroes spiritual sequel by Missing Worlds Media raked in $678,000 and that community was massive compared to what remains of the Asheron’s Call base. Whatever hope the game has of surviving at this point, barring the sudden entrance of a wealthy backer, lies in community-run private servers, not throwing money to two crews of pedantic, arguing children who couldn’t get past phase one without immediately falling apart and being reduced to complaining on Facebook about who was deleting whose posts. If you want somewhere safer to put your money, I hear Digital Homicide is still floating around on the net.