And so it begins! Haunts: The Manse Macabre is, or possibly was, an asymmetrical multiplayer game which found favour and modest fortune through Kickstarter. The developer, Mob Rules Games, has since been unable to complete the project following the departure of key staff, as noted by the BBC and RPS . Mob Rules developer Rick Dakan describes the sad circumstances on the Haunt Kickstarter blog .
Given the long gestation times for games, this could end up being just one of many Kickstarter games to come to a sticky end in the coming months - and though the devs seem to be doing all the right things to make amends, it stands as a warning to consumers that there are few assurances when you try and buy something from the future.
Over 1,200 people backed Haunts when funding started in June of this year. The project was looking for the relatively minor sum of $25,000 from Kickstarter, having already spent $42,000 on the game's development so far - and it overshot that mark by $3,739. The good news for these backers is that they will hopefully get their money returned should the game take a terminal turn.
"My obligation to all of you generous Kickstarter backers is foremost in my mind and I have not served you as well as I should have," said Dakan in his blog post. "We have spent all the money we raised, but I will personally refund out of my own pocket anyone who wants to withdraw their support, no questions asked."
He also said that he'd be willing to forfeit his entire share in the game, if another dev were to take it on, complete and ship it. That's due diligence and then some, I'd say - but there will surely be other game developments that go south and then simply don't have the dosh to cough up compensation. After all, this happens a lot behind closed doors in the rest of the game industry. Crowdfunding is ultimately no less risky than private investment, but it does mean that the cruel realities of business are now placed right in the consumer's lap. Maybe, soon, consumers will find themselves footing the bill, too - at which point, Kickstarter's honeymoon may come to a close.