"The project is over. The game is cancelled." With those eight words, Erik Chevalier alerted his 1,246 Kickstarter backers that the board game they collectively funded — The Doom That Came to Atlantic City — will never see the light of day. Thirteen months after rounding up $122,874 in contributions, Chevalier has completely pulled the plug on the project, attributing the failure to his own "inexperience in board game publishing," "ego conflicts," and unspecified legal and technical challenges. The cancellation is particularly baffling when you consider Chevalier's Kickstarter overshot its original $35,000 target by almost $100,000.
What happened? That's still not entirely clear, and Chevalier isn't laying out specifics for legal reasons. After a series of missteps, "the money was approaching a point of no return," he wrote in a recent Kickstarter update. "I've spent a large amount of time pitching investors, begging banks for loans and seeking other sources of funding to fix this. Sadly I found no takers." As you'd imagine, his Kickstarter backers are crying foul, particularly with the idea that their money financed Chevalier's move to a new city.
"I never set out to con anyone or to perpetrate a fraud but I did walk into a situation that was beyond my abilities and for that I'm deeply sorry."
"It sounds to me that almost no money went into development but rather your pocket. You quit your job then moved to Portland then lived off our investor money," wrote one angry financier. Chevalier is also facing heavy criticism over his claim that the project's goal was the formation of a game company. His Kickstarter page doesn't back up that notion, and early supporters insist they were funding production of The Doom That Came to Atlantic City and nothing more.
Chevalier's collaborators on the project are disavowing any knowledge of what went wrong. Speaking for himself and game artist Lee Moyer, designer Keith Baker writes, "Neither one of us received any of the funds raised by the Kickstarter or pre-sales." Baker claims that he and Lee "were not involved in the decisions that brought about the end of this project." They plan to offer a print-and-play version of the board game in hopes of providing "misled" backers some consolation. As for refunds, Chevalier has vowed to (eventually) reimburse all 1,246 people that chipped in funds — something Kickstarter's service terms require when a project's rewards fail to materialize. Unfortunately it sounds like that will be a lengthy process. As for what ultimately sank The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, Cavalier has promised to write up a thorough post-mortem in the future. But for now it's just another bump along Kickstarter's rocky road of hits and misses.