Ending a few months of speculation, events surrounding the fate of All Quiet on the Martian Front have solidified. The last official announcement from Robot Peanut Studios, aka Architects of War, aka Alien Dungeon, was posted on their Kickstarter site today. Essentially it confirms what a lot of people were speculating had happened to the troubled game publisher ever since they went incognito at the end of 2015.
“Our sales plummeted precipitously in the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2015 and never recovered across our online retail operations as well as hobby shop and distributor sales. We could not maintain our business under these conditions and despite a continuing series of sales and marketing efforts, we have been forced to file for bankruptcy. The case has been filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania at case number 16-20247″
As predicted in Blaine Pardoe’s recent blog post, the models cost more than they projected to produce and they weren’t selling fast enough to generate income to keep the company going. The operation didn’t have enough volume to keep the revenue stream in the black for any projected future. Shipping was the other killer– which they were paying or out of pocket.
In other words, the Kickstarters LOOKED successful, but they were losing money on every pledge. A sad ending for this franchise… which I had bought into but never contributed to the Kickstarter for. Now I wonder what to do next– gobble up the fire sale Martian stuff or sell off what I have? Sigh. It’s the models. The game itself, although worthy enough, was never a huge draw for me. The miniatures, however, well, they kicked butt.
Another sad ending was the GOLEM ARCANA project, which announced today that it was ending production. Golem Arcana was on my radar screen for a while, but I never bit. This was a game (from the same folks who recently brought us the reprise of Shadowrun on Steam, Harebrained Schemes) that was digitally enhanced to sort of meld real time analog play with an app on Android or Steam that tracked the miniature’s progress in fights and displayed stat changes on the tablet. Cool concept.
I actually was going to purchase this at Christmas time but got distracted. Unlike AQMF, I don’t think I’ll be looking for a firesale here, because it requires an app to play, and eventually that app won’t be supported. Still, I’m sad to see it go.
It’s ridiculous to call these developments a trend, but it is a sad ending for both of these high profile, innovative Kickstarter miniature gaming projects. AQMF, in particular, really seemed to have potential for me. I hope there is some form of followup to this from a third party, as has been rumored to be in development. IF there is a lesson to be gleaned from all of this it would be: Don’t make the mistake of making a Kickstarter profit as a source of funds for operating your company. Kickstarter is a means of transferring risk from the creator to the public for new products that otherwise might not get made. So you have to communicate your passion and the virtues of your product to the investors to hope you’ll ever get the next project funded. If these two Kickstarter fails have a common theme, that would be it– a failure to get sufficient momentum going to create something that could perpetuate itself. I just don’t know.. it’s awfully easy to Monday morning quarterback something like this, a lot harder to create a working strategy for marketing breakthrough games to a public that might be a little jaded by big fanfare Kickstarter projects.