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Failed Kickstarter game is a cautionary tale in crowdfunding project development

When Mob Rules Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for Haunts: The Manse Macabre the game back in June 2012, the project was met with a positive response, garnering more than $3,500 above the initial funding goal. This sweet success quickly took a turn for the worst, as the project funder recently announced that the game overestimated its delivery and is now left with no developers and programmers to turn the game into a reality.

Haunts: The Manse Macabre was supposed to be a turn-based horror game where players can choose to take the role of haunted house explorers or those living in it. Mob Rules Games turned to Kickstarter at what the team claimed was the last stage of production, only to realize the game needed much more development before it would ever be ready for worldwide play. 

“The game as it stands has all the systems in place, but there are a lot of bugs,” Rick Dakan, Mob Rules founder, writes in a Kickstarter update. “I am still determined to get the game out, but I no longer have any way of knowing when and how that will happen.”

The Haunts story serves as one of the ways successfully-funded Kickstarters can go wrong, especially for projects that require extensive Web development. With product designs, you can attempt to calculate the cost of parts and production, and in turn ask for an appropriate amount of funding when you initially start the project. With programming, you cannot anticipate bug encounters, development timeline, or losing half your team. Though Dakan pledges that his fight for Haunts is not over, he is personally offering to refund backers out-of-pocket if they were to lose faith in the project, no questions asked.

The project hiccups come in light of Kickstarter’s recent policy change that ensured backers realized “Kickstarter is not a store,” and all projects will endure some risks and challenges that the creator must highlight. Dakan promises to keep backers in the loop with more updates as the struggle to make Haunts a reality continues. But the story is a deserved a cautionary tales for backers and project starters alike that when you involve thousands of strangers on your ventures, you best be sure you can deliver.