Last week, the developers of two Kickstarter games for Ouya were accused of crowdfunding fraud, as a small number of first-time backers came forward to pledge large amounts of money — allegedly in order to secure matching funds from Ouya, whose "Free The Games" program is offering $1 million in such contributions. Now, one of those projects is no more: Elementary, My Dear Holmes has been suspended, shortly after reaching its $50,000 goal. Counting matching funds, that's over $100,000 the developer won't be receiving now.
Perhaps not just Sherlock Holmes fans with plenty of disposable income
Elementary developer Victory Square Games had previously testified that it had no idea who its mysterious big money donors were, with CEO Sam Chandola going so far as to ask Kickstarter himself. In an email exchange which he provided to Polygon, a Kickstarter representative replied, "I wouldn't be surprised if Sherlock Holmes fans had a way of sleuthing these things out!" Now, it appears that Kickstarter has decided that the donations might not simply be Sherlock Holmes fans with plenty of disposable income.
In a note to the project's backers, Chandola says his team is "deeply saddened" by the suspension. "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 explained. Still, Chandola also seems relieved, calling the accusations "a huge drain on our time, energy and resources," and pledging to keep working on the game by seeking venture capital in place of Kickstarter money.
We've asked Kickstarter why Elementary was suspended, and hope to hear back soon. Meanwhile, the other successful Ouya "Free The Games" project, MogoTXT's Gridiron Thunder, appears to be going strong with over $100,000 in pledges. ""As we have been for many weeks now, we are completely focused on our game development," the company told All Things D.
Update: Chandola published an update to the Victory Square Games blog on Tuesday, assuring backers that their pledges haven't been charged, and "will never be charged." He adds that if any charges do appear on a backer's credit card, they backer should take it up with the credit card company company. He also issues another strong denial to participating in any astroturfing, writing: "Not me, nor anyone at Victory Square Games did anything to astroturf our project. We did not do it ourselves, we did not pay anyone to do it, we did not ask anyone to do it." Chandola concludes by saying that his company will continue development of the game for "Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android" and maybe "some consoles as well," and that Victory Square will set up a preorder page for those backers still interested.