The Kickstarter for Red Ash: The Indelible Legend, failed to reach its funding goal, being almost $300,000 short of the mark. Projects not being fully funded aren't exactly a rarity on the crowdfunding circle, but what made this project interesting was the big names attached to it and how it was ruined by vague marketing choices.
Red Ash is the spiritual successor to Megaman Legends, a dungeon-crawling RPG series based off of the famous blue bomber that found mild success on the Playstation. While the series was never a massive hit, but there has been a core group of fans eager to see the series return. In fact, there were teases of a new instalment being released for 3DS, but that project was eventually canned. So, a small franchise from years back with a small, dedicated fan base? That sounds like the recipe for Kickstarter success. But, with the project finished woefully unfunded, something obviously went wrong.
Keiji Inafune is the big name attached to the project. He has been known for working on a lot of games, but is mostly known for his long history with Megaman. When he announced the Kickstarter for his new game Mighty No. 9 in 2013, people were very excited. The game looked like Megaman, it sounded like Megaman, and it played like Megaman. The franchise that was conspicuously missing from the console landscape for a long time was coming back under the guidance of its original designer, and it seemed like a great match.
However, as the months went by, the games release seemed to be further and further away. Not only that, various game design decisions were leading people to lose faith in the project, and things didn't get better when the developers asked for additional funding. Mighty No. 9, as it stands, is still unreleased and people are beginning to get wary of the game.
So, perhaps launching a Kickstarter for another game at this point wasn't the smartest move. With no proof in people's hands that Infaune can deliver on his Kickstarter promises, people were hesitant to donate to a new project. The project isn't even being led by Inafune - it is in fact being spearheaded by two of the directors from Megaman Legends - but by pushing Infaune's name they are forever associated with a Kickstarter that many people don't have great memories of. Incidentally, Mighty No. 9 has been delayed to 2016, meaning his name isn't cleared of bad memories anytime soon.
Secondly, there's been big confusion due to the involvement of developer Fuze. A Chinese game company, whose website is full of "engrish" and stolen assets, funded a large portion of the game meaning that despite failing to meet funding goals, the game is still getting made. This led to the Kickstarter being nothing more than stretch goals, which made people even more disheartened to not donate. Especially when some of the stretch goals were as vague as "Mystery Console Port". Though, at least that was better than the initial company line of "Exactly what are those stretch goals? We're sorry to say that will have to wait a little while longer!"
Fuze's announcement that they had essentially bought out the project's Kickstarter also led to people refunding their donations, as the game was guaranteed to be made regardless.
Red Ash was a confusing mess of a crowdfunding attempt, and was only saved thanks to a dubious and mysterious company deciding to buy it out. But why? What is Fuze getting from this deal? According to their website, they are working on a games console. This would suggest exclusivity, but the game has already been announced for other systems. During their websites "Dreams of Game" presentation, it seems they are purely dedicated to bringing an old fashioned gaming experience back, so maybe the publicity of funding a game that's a spiritual successor to a PS1 game is what they're after.
Either way, despite the game's awful attempt at a Kickstarter, it's still being released. Maybe by the time it comes out, the audience will be more accepting of it, but for now I can't help but question if the game will have a successful release if it couldn't even reach $800,000, a figure that could be considered measly when compared to other games donation pools.