Official Stalker Facebook page extends, then retracts, support for Areal Kickstarter
The official Facebook page of GSC Game World issued a statement over the weekend calling for an end to disparaging comments about Areal, the "definitive spiritual successor" to the Stalker games that's now on Kickstarter. That led the makers of the Misery mod, one of Areal's most prominent critics, to remove all such criticism from its Facebook page; yet now GSC has reversed course, saying its expression of support for Areal was not official at all.
A recap of the situation is available here but in a nutshell, West Games is seeking $50,000 from Kickstarter to fund the development of a new, very Stalker-like open-world game called Areal. The Kickstarter immediately raised suspicions, however, because of the studio's claim to be formed from the "core people" behind Stalker as well as its extensive and uncredited use of Stalker assets in its pitch. The crowdfunding campaign started strongly, earning more than half its goal in short order, but support seemed to wane as negative feedback, including from Survarium studio Vostok Games, began to roll in.
Vostok effectively said its piece and then washed its hands of the matter but Misery Developments continued to make noise about it until this weekend, when the Stalker Facebook page, as noted by OnlySP, issued a wide-ranging appeal for peace.
"As the Official page for GSC Game World, we represent the interests and intellectual property of GSC Game World. Since GSC Game World is not currently producing any games, we have generously and tirelessly supported and promoted all those Games that former GSC Employees have been involved with in the past, currently and in the future. This includes Metro 2033, Survarium, Cradle, Nuclear Union ( no longer in production ) and now Areal. This is nothing new," it said. "We also have promoted the Modding Community with major titles such as Misery, The Seed, Lost Alpha and other works. Our position is that all in the Stalker Community benefit from such a diverse and unique variety of Games. The only thing we are not tolerant about is one part of the Stalker Community disparaging another. Thanks for your understanding and support."
According to screen captures included in an Areal update, the Stalker Facebook page also posted messages confirming that West Games is made up of "real ex-GSC Employees" and telling the Misery developers to remove all negative content about the studio from its Facebook page or risk losing support for its projects, including the Misery mod and the successfully Kickstarted stand-alone game The Seed. Misery Developments quickly complied, telling its followers that it had been "formally asked" to stop commenting on West Games and Areal. "Misery Development Ltd. would like to state that whether or not to pledge on a Kickstarter campaign is for the community to decide, and an individual choice," it wrote.
But GSC Game World has since edited the post, effectively retracting the statements of support for Areal and, presumably, the threat against its critics. "While we do believe the community of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. should remain united and strong, the previously made statement does not represent the official stance of GSC Game World," it now says. "The post has therefore been edited. We apologize for the inconveniences."
The Areal Kickstarter is now at just over $33,500, with 23 days remaining.