An ambitious GTA Online-alike won't be allowed to finish its Kickstarter campaign

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Kickstarter has suspended the crowdfunding campaign for an extremely ambitious GTA Online-like MMO roleplaying game called RAW (opens in new tab), which hit its funding goal two weeks ago. The problem was that the developers were only asking for $79,000. (For comparison, GTA 5's development costs have been estimated (opens in new tab) at $137 million.)

“Our rules and guidelines ask that creators seek to raise the amount of money needed to bring a project to completion and fulfill all rewards,” a Kickstarter representative told PCGamesN (opens in new tab). “This creator stated in an update that they would need to raise additional funds outside of Kickstarter to complete the game. We require projects to be honest and clearly presented, and this project failed to meet that standard.”

In the FAQ section (opens in new tab) of RAW's Kickstarter campaign, the developers clearly acknowledged that their pledge goal was far too small to pull off a complicated, fully-featured MMO. "Of course we need a lot more than $79,000," the response says. "The minimum comfortable amount is about $300,000. We said earlier that there will be several fundraising campaigns. Kickstarter is the first stage." They reiterate in another FAQ, both updated yesterday, the disparity between their asked-for funding and the estimated true cost of development. The comments clearly violate Kickstarter's policy (opens in new tab).

In the trailer above you can see all of RAW's ambitions played out in cinematic shots with voice-over work that sounds like it came straight out of Honest Trailers (opens in new tab). Its website lists the main features (just the main ones, mind you) as: 400 square kilometers of playable area, buyable land and real estate, an advanced government system (in which you can become mayor, according to the trailer), a contract system for doing things like hauling goods, and a lot more. 

RAW

(Image credit: Killer Whale)

The developers acknowledge that their small team (which seems to be only two people) won't be enough. Also from the Kickstarter FAQs: "Now the priority is to hire more programmers and 3d-modelers. We'll hire a shader artists, texture artists, map designers if we raise enough money." 

Plenty of successful Kickstarter campaigns lead to studios hiring more developers. Plenty more end up asking for additional funding even after a successful campaign. For RAW's developers, the mistake was in admitting that they knew they couldn't deliver RAW with the funds asked for.

Because the campaign was suspended before completion, backers won't be charged for their pledges and developer Killerwhale Games won't be cashing out. Still, we may not have heard the last of RAW, whose developers said in their community Discord, according to PCGN, "We are very disappointed, but not broken." They may seek funding again through IndieGoGo or their own website.

Thanks, PCGamesN (opens in new tab).

Lauren Morton
Associate Editor

Lauren started writing for PC Gamer as a freelancer in 2017 while chasing the Dark Souls fashion police and accepted her role as Associate Editor and Chief Minecraft Liker in 2021. She originally started her career in game development and is still fascinated by how games tick in the modding and speedrunning scenes. She likes long books, longer RPGs, multiplayer cryptids, and can't stop playing co-op crafting games.