Forking Path

$122,874 board game Kickstarter cancelled, nothing will be released, refunds might be issued

$122,874 board game Kickstarter cancelled, nothing will be released, refunds might be issued

The Forking Path Company asked for $35,000 in its Kickstarter campaign to create a board game, with some serious talent behind the project. The campaign ultimately raised $122,874 when funding ended in June of last year. According to the latest update from the company, backers aren’t going to see anything in return for that money.

“The short version: The project is over, the game is canceled,” Erik Chevalier of Forking Path wrote in the last update. “…Every possible mistake was made, some due to my inexperience in board game publishing, others due to ego conflicts, legal issues and technical complications. No matter the cause though these could all have been avoided by someone more experienced and I apparently was not that person.”

This is where things got hairy. While the Kickstarter seemed to say that backers were launching a game, the update states that the goal was to launch a company, with many more games coming later.

“From the beginning the intention was to launch a new board game company with the Kickstarted funds, with The Doom that Came to Atlantic City as only our first of hopefully many projects. Everyone involved agreed on this,” the update said. Everyone, it seems, except the backers. In fact, that statement seems to contradict the original pitch that caused so many people to back the project. Chevalier's name does not appear in the original pitch description.

As for Lee Moyer and Keith Baker, whose names were listed at the top of the campaign? “As stated above Lee and Keith were not directly involved in this decision,” Chevalier wrote. “I informed them earlier this month about the situation.” What the hell happened?

The comments on the post are mixed. “I'm sorry but Erik misled everyone for the past year, he lied in the updates (It's at the printer, I swear! They’re super busy with other stuff but it's there I promise!) He took our money and ran,” he wrote. “How is this not fraud? I for one will be contacting the local authorities in Portland. If enough people file complaints with the police, I guarantee Erik will start giving refunds.”

Some are more sympathetic. “Erik, thank you for trying. I appreciate that you even posting this update. It takes some courage to see the writing on the wall and accept responsibility. There are many other kickstarters that fail that Owner just disappear,” another wrote. “Little upset that last few updates were light and seemed more positive. Bummed that I won't be able to play the game. Good luck”

Can backers expect their money to be refunded? It could happen, but it will likely be awhile. The update says the following:

My hope now is to eventually refund everyone fully. This puts all of the financial burden directly on my shoulders. Starting with those who've pre-ordered after the Kickstarter campaign through our webstore, then I'll begin working my way through the backer list, starting with those who funded at the highest levels. Unfortunately I can't give any type of schedule for the repayment as I left my job to do this project and must find work again. I'll create a separate bank account to place anything beyond my basic costs of living. Every time that account has a decent amount saved into it I'll issue a payout to a portion of the backer list. I'll post updates with each payout to keep you all informed on the progress.

We'll be contacting the company and those involved asking for more information, and the update promises a full post-mortem that will explain exactly what happened with this campaign. A tweet from Keith Baker suggests a print and play version may be coming, and a comment in the Kickstarter comments also claims that this isn't the first time Erik Chevalier has been involved in a situation where money has disappeared with little to show for it.

The lesson here? Don't fund campaigns with money you can't afford to lose, and always be aware of the risks of what you're backing. This sounds like an expensive lesson for everyone involved.