Retro Atari console designer quits, says he hasn't been paid

I’m not sure that I am. I think the way most of us view these backing things is that it’s some kind of pre-order service. With the usual assumptions under the Uniform Commercial Code where if I pay for a good or service as a commercial transaction that I should expect that good or service or a refund.

These funding systems aren’t really that. They bait and switch. They fail to deliver. The project creators may have the best possible intentions. But I don’t believe those intentions are realistic. We’re not used to purchasing goods and services where the purchasers assumes the bulk of the risk. It’s gambling without any benefit to the player.

Other systems like Patreon I respect. There is a set contribution, and there is no firm expectation of delivery. It’s not easily interpreted by either party as a commercial exchange.

I’ve backed about 60 or so things. Almost everything came through or I got a refund. Almost every project was late. Most under delivered on original promises. There are about 8 projects on my list that are in limbo. And a few that explicitly absconded with the money and Kickstarter is still sorting out what to do about it. For IndieGoGo I’ve back a dozen things and half of them have had serious problems. Ranging from 2 years late on to never delivered and creator left the country. I feel they IGG is less particular about the proposals than KS, just given the small sample of disasters I’ve backed.

I back books, hardware, board games, films, and video games. I think books are the most reliable. I’m 0 for 3 on films. And games usually deliver some subset of what they promise with a few exceptions such as Broforce delivering way beyond the initial concept.

100%? I recall when Dennis McKenna used Kickstarter to fund his book about he and his brother. The book came to fruition. I have a copy on my bookshelf. Is this the exception to the rule? It can’t be the only one.

Ponzi schemes are a scam even though some people do receive the promised money. That’s how they are so effective.

Every successful crowd funding is a story of a group of backers collectively rolling the dice and getting lucky. That we didn’t suffer for the risk that was thrust upon us doesn’t mean we weren’t scammed.

The problem is, they don’t really own anything of value. Atari was not the owner of most of the better games that appeared on their consoles. They had a few decent games for the time, but “for the time” is doing a lot of work here. They’re incredibly primitive in both graphics and gameplay. They’re also pretty easily - and frequently - imitated by clones identical in everything but the names. So what Atari actually owns is a bunch of names (e.g. “Centipede,” “Haunted House”) with some connected nostalgia. Every game they had, which was worth anything, has seen generations of imitators that expanded and improved on the gameplay, often in games released for free on the web.


I see your point, but it still seems that saying 100% is painting with an awfully broad brush.

Is some of it merely perception? I don’t feel I was scammed in participating in the independent publishing of his book.

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This is pretty accurate. Zero of the films I’ve backed have come through, but the board games I’ve backed (Everdell, Tokaido, Raccoon Tycoon, Rabbit Island) have all come through and been wonderful investments. I’d also say that everything DoubleFine has crowdfunded has been well-documented and come through.

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There’s a big difference between Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. Kickstarter actually cares about the results. IndieGoGo has no guarantees whatsoever.

I used to be more sympathetic to the backers of IndieGogo vaporware until I watched the Shiftwear video shoe train wreck up close. I posted several “this is very likely to be vaporware” comments on their comment board, only to be shot down by eager backers who insisted that it was doable, with no evidence whatsoever.


And I don’t feel at all scammed from the 14 that I backed. None of them were late that I recall. None of them failed to show up either.

Scrolling back through my history, I backed FTL: Faster Than Light, Machine of Death, and Tabletop Simulator, so I guess I did back some software. Maybe I just don’t back very risky projects? Either way, saying 100% are scams is – to me at least – very hyperbolic.

I think its more that 100% of things associated with Atari/Infogrames are scams. This isn’t their first major bit of vapor ware, and IIRC they’ve been involved in the sort of stock nonsense that leads to criminal charges.

It’s worth noting that very deeply built in their terms of services are statements that you are NOT purchasing anything, and that you’re not an investor in the classical sense of the term. What that leaves remaining is basically that you’re giving a gift to someone in hopes that they fulfill their obligations later. Most nations disallow payment to be rendered unless the goods are actually physically shipped, so that’s why these crowdfunding sites explicitly are not pre-order sites. Most nations also have laws on rights that investors get (and minimum values to consider yourself an investor), and crowdfunding sites also cannot guarantee those rights.

In the end, you’re donating money. The best you can do is work with people who have a proven track record of at very least making good faith efforts, and at very most, successful project deliveries.


It’s hyperbole as a rhetorical device. My assertion is that crowd funding is flawed to a degree where it should not be considered dealing in good faith. If you disagree with my assertion, then say so, offer a counter. If you dismiss my point because you disagree with the semantics of my rhetoric, that’s not really very fair of you.

Can I suggest that when fellow readers helpfully note that saying “100% of Kickstarters are scams” is hyperbole and rhetorical and you say “I’m not sure that I am,” and double down on that 100% figure, but actually mean “it’s hyperbole!”, that you’re just confusing everyone? Especially when you also spoke about multiple Kickstarters that worked out well for you?


It’s funny. Now that I’ve successfully copied thousands of my old cartridges for archival purposes :neutral_face: , I have found that less than 1% are even worth playing. My kid and I’s favorite 2600 game is currently Bowling. Not sure how much money Atari can bank on that alone but I think just releasing all the games and providing instructions on how to play them is a much better idea. (Unless you’ve copied them all like I have…which I did. :neutral_face: )


You seriously missed the point. It’s about the risk we take, not the seemingly random outcome. We’re paying full price for a gamble, and that’s a scam.

Does doubling down add or multiply? 200%?

Pro tip. “100% are a scam” could mean the most direct conclusion that I literally mean that every kickstarter failed. Hopefully only 3 people on this site thought that is what I meant. “100% are a scam” could also mean that I disagree with all crowd funding as being an unfair.

Is that hyperbole? in the first case yes.
In the second case it is literal and not an exaggeration.
Both cases are rhetoric.

You have every reasonable right to ask for clarification if I say something that doesn’t make sense or you don’t understand. Offering suggestions on how I should communicate when I carefully considered it and you failed to grasp it is perhaps not going to be well received.

Too bad Jack Tramiel’s not around to save the company again.


Enough with the pedantry.

If you don’t mean 100%, then don’t say 100%.

If you can’t take the time to write ”nearly 100%”, but instead are willing to write paragraphs describing how you really should have said ”nearly 100%”, well, there’s a word for that, and it describes the type of person who is not going to do well in this community.


“…the risk that was thrust upon us…” might be the most entitled thing I’ve read today.

This reminds me that I just got the latest System Shock reboot update from Nightdive Studios today. Backed it on Kickstarter about two years ago after seeing pre-alpha gameplay, and this month’s update is . . . concept art and other art design. :neutral_face::expressionless::neutral_face:

At this point, I have no expectations, but I’m way more cautious about backing anything.

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As much as i adore retro gaming i would never back any campaigns because they either never materialise or do materialise but not quite as promised.