More than seven years after finding major success on Kickstarter, Battalion 1944 studio Bulkhead Interactive is offering full refunds to backers, regardless of their platform or pledge tier.
Battalion 1944 is a World War 2 multiplayer shooter that aimed to recapture the online glory days of games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty 2. There was clearly interest in such a thing: The Kickstarter campaign launched with an ambitious goal of £100,000 ($129,300) and finished with more than triple that amount: £317,281 ($410,000) in total.
But it did not go smoothly from there. A promising early access launch (despite some unexpected server troubles) in February 2018 eventually gave way to disappointment as promised console releases never happened, communications from Bulkhead dried up—the most recent Kickstarter update, prior to today, was posted in January 2018—and players complained, not without justification, that the game had been abandoned.
Finally, in 2022, Bulkhead seemed to put a fork in it. The studio announced the end of its relationship with Battalion 1944 publisher Square Enix, the re-release of the game on Steam as the free Battalion: Legacy, and the official cancellation of the console editions of the game, which refunds available to anyone who backed them.
That was effectively the end of the matter until today's surprise announcement of an across-the-board refund offer for all Battalion 1944 Kickstarter backers. In an email sent to backers (and helpfully shared in the Kickstarter comments), Bulkhead said people who want their money back will have to respond to a survey within 30 days; after that window is closed, the studio will manually send out refunds to PayPal accounts, a process it expects should be completed within three months of the end of the survey period.
And yes, a PayPal account will be required: Bulkhead said it has been advised by Kickstarter to issue the refunds outside of its platform, and "PayPal is the best location agnostic solution to ensure as many people as possible (from as many countries as possible) can receive their refunds." So if you don't have an account, you'll need to set one up.
There was some initial suspicion in the Kickstarter comments that the refund email was a phishing scam, but Bulkhead quickly clarified that it was legit. The reaction since then has been largely positive, both for the game itself and the refund offer.
The refunds were apparently made possible by Splash Damage, which acquired Bulkhead in December 2022. "When we told them we were still trying to save money to refund our Kickstarter backers, they said, 'We'll help you solve that'," creative director Mark Pinney said in the refund announcement video. "They understood how important the relationship was between players and developers."
Bulkhead CEO Joe Brammer said essentially the same thing in response to a Twitter user who asked why the offer was being made in the first place. "What’s important to us is how public we made our commitment to our players and being gamers ourselves," Brammer said. "This is how we would want to be treated, it was much later than anticipated and the physical rewards were not delivered. It’s not about money it’s about ethos for us."
So it's not exactly a happy ending, but at least it's a clean one. Full details on the Battalion 1944 refund offer are available for backers on Kickstarter; Battalion Legacy remains available for free on Steam.