The failure of the Yogventures Kickstarter has taken what may well be the first step toward ugliness with an assertion by the developer, Winterkewl Games, that $150,000 of the money raised went to Yogscast, which was to use it to create physical rewards and hire a lead programmer for the project. But roughly two-thirds of that amount remains unaccounted for, according to figures released in a new, final Kickstarter update, and while Lewis Brindley of Yogscast insisted in a response that the update "omits much," he didn't explicitly deny the allegation either, saying only that "there's no value in going into detail."
The condensed version of the Yogventures cancellation is that Yogscast, a game-related YouTube collective, and Winterkewl Games teamed up to make an "open-world sandbox adventure" featuring characters created by Yogscast prinicples Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane. But after raising $567,665 in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign —more than double its initial goal of $250,000—it all fell apart. Winterkewl missed multiple milestones and "continued to come up short of the quality expectations," leading Yogscast to refuse to advertise preorders, effectively cutting off a much-needed source of funding. Yogscast distanced itself from the project even further following its collapse but said it would do its best to satisfy backers despite being "under no obligation" to do so; it also said that people seeking refunds would have to do so through Winterkewl.
But a Yogventures Kickstarter update posted over the weekend suggests that Yogscast was more than merely a supportive bystander. Developer Kris Vale admitted that inexperience led to mismanagement, citing a double-facepalm-worthy incident in which an artist walked away with a $35,000 lump sum payment after two weeks of work because his contract did not specify the conditions of his obligation, but said that when Brindley found out about it, he "lost faith right away in my ability to run the company from a business standpoint and basically required that all the rest of the Kickstarter money that hadn't been spent be transferred to them right away."
"In the end we negotiated that to $150,000 would be transferred to the Yogscast with the understanding that they would use that money exclusively to create and ship all the physical rewards, AND they would help hire the main programmer that we still didn't have on the project," Vale wrote. But that apparently didn't happen, and at that point Winterkewl no longer had the funds to hire one on its own, leaving Vale to take on the bulk of the job himself.
The funding shortfall also means that backers looking for refunds from the studio are going to be disappointed. "Since the money was all spent either directly on development of the game or paid to the Yogscast to handle physical rewards and 'licensing fees' I'm afraid Winterkewl Games has a negative balance at this point," Vale wrote. "We don't have any of the money left and as such can't really offer refunds."
Brindley didn't refer to any specific numbers in a response posted on Reddit , in which he wrote, "Any monies the Yogscast have received in connection with this project has been spent on this project." He also opted not to discuss the nature of the relationship between Yogscast and Winterkewl, saying only that the developer failed to live up to its promises and that Yogscast is doing its best to clean up the mess.
"We're not ready to make a detailed statement about what happened with Yogventures. Winterkewl's statement omits much and I would disagree with a number of points, but there's no value in going into detail. Our only goal right now is to ensure that we provide the best possible experience for the backers that we can. I can honestly say this has been our goal throughout," he wrote. "I would just like to say that this project was started when The Yogscast was just me and Simon making videos out of our bedrooms. We met Kris and trusted his qualifications and assertions that we could trust him with our brand and even more importantly, our audience. Needless to say, I'm upset and embarrassed, but strongly believe the backers will end up getting far more value and a far better result than they originally anticipated when they backed this project."
Vale acknowledged that "too many design changes and my in-experience as a project lead and programmer were what's to blame for our company never really making what it was we set out to make," but the failure of Yogscast to address the specifics of his claims leaves a lot of questions unanswered. If Vale's allegations are true, it would strongly suggest that Yogscast's denial of official involvement in the project is inaccurate; it would also leave the bulk of the money transferred to Yogscast unaccounted for, since only $50,000 was earmarked for the creation and shipping of physical rewards. We've reached out to Yogscast for more information and will update if and when we receive a reply.