Kickstarter Project Accused of “Scam” Suspended, Developer Quits Ouya Contest (Update)

Published on September 6, 2013
by Eric Johnson

elementaryThe Kickstarter project for Victory Square Games’ Ouya game Elementary, My Dear Holmes has been suspended by the crowdfunding site, and all backers’ money has been refunded will not be processed.

Until it and another game came under fire last week, Elementary, My Dear Holmes had been a participant in an Ouya-run contest on Kickstarter, the Free The Games Fund, which promised to match the funds raised on the crowdfunding site for eligible projects. At the time of its suspension, Elementary had raised $58,770, surpassing an initial goal of $50,000.

Now that Kickstarter has suspended the project, Victory Square CEO Sam Chandola said the company currently has “no plans to be part of Free The Games again.”

“We wanted to get on top of this and did not want anything to do with any of what was happening as it was an extremely negative campaign for us,” Chandola wrote in a message sent to the project’s backers. “Strong personal accusations were going up against us, and it was a huge drain on our time, energy and resources.”

Among those accusations: That someone created fake donors to push the project into eligibility for the Ouya matching funds. Chandola maintains that Victory Square did not game the system.

“We had been hoping that the suspicious accounts would have been suspended so that we could keep on going strong and without controversy, but instead it was the project that got so,” he wrote. “We are, naturally, deeply saddened by this. But if this is what it takes to put an end to the negativity, so be it.”

An Ouya representative called the project’s suspension “unfortunate.”

Chandola said in a separate email that the studio is “looking for financing through venture capitalists.” In the message to backers, he claimed Victory Square is “already in talks with some Venture Capitalists who are willing to back this project privately.”

He also characterized the suspension as a surprise:

Our decision was to reach out to them earlier to them to let them know of the accounts and the talks since the issue was a huge drain on our resources. We had hoped that would resolve the matter and put things in the clear, and if need be, remove pledges from accounts that were deemed suspicious.

Kickstarter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, MogoTXT — the creators of the other Ouya game accused of gaming Kickstarter — plans to continue the project for its game, Gridiron Thunder.

“There is no change in our plans,” MogoTXT CEO Andy Won told AllThingsD. “As we have been for many weeks now, we are completely focused on our game development.”

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