The Camelot Unchained team announced a new game, Ragnarok: Colossus, earlier. However, the announcement itself isn’t the big news, as reaction from the community, and indeed City State Entertainment design chief Mark Jacobs’ responses to the community, has taken center stage.
The initial news started when an update was posted via stream (below) announcing Ragnarok: Colossus.
The stream revealed how development work on Ragnarok: Colossus has benefitted some development on Camelot Unchained. This type of learning and cross-knowledge isn’t new in game development. However, this announcement is not what the community wanted to hear.
Camelot Unchained has been in development since 2013 after having initially raised $2.2 million on Kickstarter. Now, nearly seven years on, fans – and especially backers – had hoped to see something more on the live stream.
Naturally, this led to a frustrated reaction from viewers on the stream. One individual going by lordagamus stated,
“Well, this update definitely united the player base around the refund button.”
Another brace of viewers going by Butcher added,
“When colossus fails do you think investors will be open to continue funding? Hey guys do you want mmo? -> delivers moba or br.”
MassivelyOP posted an interview with Jacobs, where they put the question of fan response to him. Jacobs replied,
“I think that people will react the way people always react to things. Some will be angry, some will be “Whatever, as long as we get CU,” and others will be happy, as they will see all the good stuff that is now part of the engine. And, if something is part of the engine, that means it’s part of CU. Others will be happy because they will get to play an additional game besides CU that they are not being charged for, and they’ll be especially happy if they like PvE games.”
They then asked him about backers requesting a refund on Camelot Unchained, with Jacobs responding,
“Yep. We’re going to fully own this decision, and if people are unhappy, don’t want to play Colossus, and don’t want to wait for CU any longer, we will of course give them a refund. Now, we hope this doesn’t happen, because we believe that having both CU and Colossus will work to the benefit of both games and communities, but that’s up to our Backers to decide. [Editor’s Note: Per the comment discussion, CSE has clarified that most refunds are indeed being offered, except for those folks who can’t prove they backed the game and those who backed nonrefundable tiers.]”
That last bit with the Editor’s Note is where the real meat of the story lies. Jacobs took to the interview’s comments. One reader going by Timothy Stearns posted a lengthy conversation of emails he had trying to get a refund.
Timothy’s comment ends with a reply received on December 10,
“Thank you for your email. We will be more than happy to upgrade you to another tier, which you are more than welcome to sell to another Backer. But because IT has had almost daily access to our engine/game for six years and by asking for a refund you are not fulfilling the obligation of the tier; we don’t refund that tier. It’s one of the reasons we discouraged people from buying it but offering no other benefits other than having the same access to our development as our team has.”
Timothy ends his comment with,
“Any goodwill toward CS has been eroded. This is type of response they offer their day 1 backers when they’ve finally had enough of their exaggerated waiting game. It’s very hard to take anything distributed by CS without a huge dose of skepticism.”
Jacobs became involved to the replies in for this comment. One poster going by Pepperzine replied to Timothy’s comment, seemingly asking Jacobs,
“Can’t you refund it and also keep the NDA in place? Aside from revealing sensitive dev information I don’t understand why this tier should be treated any differently from the rest.”
…to which Jacobs replied,
“It’s not because of the NDA. It’s because we said that this was a special tier, none of our other tiers have that wording in them. I’m sure he signed up in good faith (zero doubt about that) but the fact is, we did and still do provide all IT folks with access to almost everything we do. And with Colossus, they’ll be able to test that as well. This costs us money, not a lot but it does add up. And if I say sure this time, I have to do it every time with this tier.
And since I’m happily willing to upgrade his tier to a more expensive one, he can sell it as other Backers have done so on the Forums. And it’s because we are late I’m more than willing to do that for him. But again, if a tier says that if you can’t carry out your duties as a tester we don’t have to refund the tier, and by leaving it means you can’t carry out your duties, and we don’t refund the tier, what is wrong with that? It said it right there on the tier that if you couldn’t carry out the all the criteria (testing, bug reporting) we could downgrade and not refund the tier. While we are not refunding it, we are more than willing to upgrade, not downgrade it.”
Pepperzine then replied with,
“Testers should be paid, not pay to test. It sounds like semantics and loopholes to me. If you’re giving other people a refund just give him a refund too. He wants out and shouldn’t have to spend more money or go through the hassle of trying to sell it to get out, despite the wording of the package.”
Jacobs posted a lengthy reply, citing terms,
“It’s more than testing, it was access to the private section of the forums, tons of access to the game and builds, etc. ITs, for so much of CU’s development, could jump in any day of the week (Hatchery usually runs 24×7 unless it is borked) and check things out. Now, it wasn’t all that exciting most of the time but we said that in the tier too. That was the deal when we made it. You come in, help us test, you get access to the exact same servers that devs work on. And you could also interact with the devs as a bunch of IT folks did/do. That tier wasn’t for everybody (obviously) but some studios charge players monthly for that kind of access, we don’t. We had a tier, and you got the stuff that came with the tier, including access to all the devs.
And the tier even says all of that along with please asking people not to pledge if they can’t do those things, that’s not obscure, that’s just the terms. What is obscure about:
“WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REMOVE EARLY ACCESS/BADGES from any backer(s) who don’t meet all of these criteria and change their access to Alpha Testing and/or downgrade their badge with no refund of the pledge tier. ”
And we’re not doing that. We were/are willing to do more by upgrading his pledge so that he can sell the pledge tier and possibly make a profit. But, to say you had the option to enjoy all the privileges of a tier (even if you don’t use them) and one that clearly says we won’t pay a refund if you don’t want to test (the criteria) and now want a refund (and therefore can’t test) isn’t fair to us.
Yes, we’re late but we’re still working on the game. And with Colossus, he can be playing/testing on that too if he chose to.”
The comments go on and on, with frustrated fans continuing to inquire Jacobs about the refund policy and requesting their money back, with Jacobs pushing back, citing terms, and reiterating the team’s willingness to upgrade pledges.
Ultimately, this entire affair has left a sore taste in the community’s mouth, as expressed in our forums. Have you backed Camelot Unchained? If so, will you be requesting a refund?