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FTC Investigates Failed Kickstarter Board-Game Campaign

It’s the FTC versus angry games versus a Kickstarter project gone wrong in a monster-filled battle royale.

Even Cthulhu cowers before the power of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The government agency is investigating a failed Kickstarter project based on the works of horror author H.P. Lovecraft–and it’s the first time ever the government is taking enforcement action against a project hosted on a crowdfunding program.

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The company behind the attempted Kickstarter project, the Forking Path, billed it as a “lighthearted Lovecraftian game of urban destruction,” and turned to the crowdfunding platform to raise $35,000 in May 2012. Gamers intrigued by the game’s concept and creators (who have a long history in the horror and gaming world) instead pledged $122,874. Even with a six-figure donation, the game was not released on time, and the project’s Kickstarter page listed delay after delay.

Screenshot: via Kickstarter

In July 2013, the Forking Path founder Erik Chevalier finally wrote that the game was a no-go:

“After paying to form the company, for the miniature statues, moving back to Portland, getting software licenses, and hiring artists to do things like rule-book design and art conforming, the money was approaching a point of no return . . . My hope now is to eventually refund everyone fully.”

The FTC got involved after many backers reported never receiving refunds years later. A formal complaint was filed against Chevalier today, and he has agreed to a settlement–though he is unable to pay the six-digit judgment filed against him at this time. Another company, Cryptozoic Entertainment, eventually released the game and gave all Kickstarter backers a copy.

Update: Kickstarter has contacted us with the following statement:

“Kickstarter has empowered millions of people to be part of the development and production of new creative works. Kickstarter creators have an incredible track record when it comes to following through on their promises. But creators who abuse our system and backers’ trust expose themselves to legal action. That another creator stepped in to produce this game and get it into the hands of backers is a testament to the goodwill and spirit of the Kickstarter community.”

[via Washington Post]