It came to light last week that West Games, the developer behind the dodgy-looking Areal Kickstarter, is taking another run at crowdfunding with an even more blatant trade on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. name: STALKER Apocalypse. This time seeking $600,000 in funding on a previously-unheard-of platform called World Wide Funder. As if that's not sketchy enough, it's since come to light that West Games and World Wide Funder might be more closely linked than previously thought.
In a statement posted in full on Blue's, World Wide Funder said it's faced considerable controversy over hosting the STALKER Apocalypse project, including allegations that it and West Games are actually the same company. Naturally, it insists they are not. "This confusion came about because Leonid Kovtun is a member of our company. He knows West Games, and showed our platform to them," the statement says. "Unfortunately, some people jumped to conclusions, and wrongfully associated us as one and the same."
World Wide Funder also said that it won't shut the project down, even though it's received numerous requests to do so. "The simple answer is that we won't [shut it down] unless the project creator asks us to do so (in which case all funder contributions will be refunded). We've reached out to West Games, and they have shown us that they have the rights to use that name for their project," the statement continues. "We hope their project is successful, despite the controversy that they've stirred, and we think that people should lighten up on them a little. They look like a passionate team of people who want to make a spectacular game."
Leonid Kovtun was apparently a "partner" on the original Areal Kickstarter, although as Forbes noted in the summer, West Games refused to clarify the specifics of his role. Develop, however, suggested that the relationship between the companies may go beyond that, pointing out that the Nevada business portal SilverFlume lists West Games CEO Eugene Kim as the holder of an expired business reservation for a company called World Wide Funder. An application for a new company of the same name has since been filed by "Animal Book Incorporated DBA World Wide Funder."
We've reached out to World Wide Funder for clarification on the matter, but in the meantime it also bears mentioning that, unlike Kickstarter, World Wide Funder projects keep all the money pledged regardless of whether or not they reach their goal. I'm not here to tell you how to spend your money, but folks: You have been warned.