Yogscast - Biggest Scammers of the Decade?
Who Are The Yogscast?
For those of you who don't know, Yogscast is a Youtube gaming channel with over seven million subscribers. It was founded back in 2008 by Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane. The group has since grown massively in size and popularity and is currently the second most subscribed channel in the United Kingdom.
A Brief History of Events
April 6th 2012, Winterkewl Games posts their latest project on Kickstarter. Yogventures, an open-world sandbox game featuring the cast of The Yogscast. It promises an experience similar to Minecraft, with the ability to create and destroy your own little world. It told tales of randomly generated terrian, crafting systems and jaffa cakes. They ask for $250,000.
May 6th 2012, Yogventures is successfully 'Kickstarted', earning $567,665 from 13,647 backers. Game development continues as planned.
From December 24th to March 30th of 2013, regular updates are release, eventually bringing the game to its Alpha stage. What follows is a blackout period, with little to no updates from both Winterkewl games and The Yogscast themselves. The fans start to grow agitated and annoyed.
August 19th 2013, Winterkewl finally releases an update, stating the Beta phase will begin at the end of the month. When the update launches, those who backed the game are furious to find it to be little more than a buggy, hastily-finished mess.
March of 2014, Winterkewl releases its final update video on Yogventures. This prompts further outrage when the video shows nothing more than a look at the environment.
July 12th 2014, Turpster of The Yogscast announces the YogDiscovery program. In short, The Yogscast will play specific indie games, so long as the developers agree to give them a portion of the profits earned during the period Yogscast covers the game.
July 16th 2014, Yogventures is cancelled, Winterkewl announces it will be declaring bankruptcy and the only compensation for backers is a Steam Early Access Key to TUG, an upcoming survival game, whose developers happen to be connected to The Yogscast.
So what now? Did The Yogscast steal a massive amount of funds from their fans in a cunning heist that has taken over two years to finish? That's what we're looking at. Today, we're going to uncover whether or not The Yogscast are the biggest scammers of the decade.
Where's The Money?
Did you know that Winterkewl never received the full amount earned from the Kickstarter campaign? In fact, they didn't even receive half. A comment posted by the lead developer revealed that Winterkewl were only paid around $250,000. Even with costs incurred by Kickstarter (I believe it's 10%, so around $57,000) and certain backers refusing to pay, what happened to $317,000 of the funds contributed?
This is hardly the first case we've seen of Kickstarter projects reaching their goal and then being abandoned, the money donated scattered into the wind (or an off-shore Swiss Bank Account). However, few projects have earned this much revenue and even fewer command a fanbase as big as The Yogscast do.
Winterkewl Games were the developers behind Yogventures. They were a team of six, aiming to bring about this ambitious project. What rings alarm bells here however is the fact that this was Winterkewl's FIRST EVER GAME. This raises an enormous amount of suspicion. Why on earth would The Yogscast hire 'newbies' of the gaming industry? Maybe I'm grasping at straws here, but projects even half the size of this would surely warrant some kind of experience, yes?
Where are Winterkewl now however? Ever since Yogventures was shut down, their Twitter account has been closed and I can find no trace of their website. I expect their YouTube channel will follow suite. Also, it appears they will have to declare bankruptcy. Why might this be? Well, out of the $250,000 earned from the Kickstarter program, it appears the Lead Developer also invested $25,000 of his own money. That begs the question as to why Yogscast couldn't support the project with some of their own funds? They're a well-funded media empire and if they truly cared about their own game so much, then surely they would have invested more?
This advertising program certainly interests me. Announced just a few days before the killing of Yogventures, YogDiscovery offers to promote games made by indie developers in exchange for a small portion of the profits.
There has also been controversy regarding the fact that Space Engineers has only been shown on The Yogscast channel due to them agreeing to donate a portion of their profits. It also isn't too far to speculate that TUG was only promoted by The Yogscast due to them giving away several thousand Steam Early Access Codes.
Now, most people may be wondering what the problem is here. Surely it's just a cheaper way to market games, yes? Well, YogDiscovery doesn't use any form of tracking to determine the exact amount of reviews generated by their advertising. They just look at the views during the period in which the game was promoted and take a cut of the revenue. As stated by other popular Youtubers, such as Nerd3, what happens if they make a game at the same time as The Yogscast and also generate views for the game? Does that mean The Yogscast get paid even more money, for work they didn't do?
Yogventures Concept Art
Response to Cancellation
After Yogventures was cancelled, Lewis Brindley, co-founder of The Yogscast, released the following statement:
"As you may have heard, Winterkewl Games have stopped work on Yogventures - but this is actually a good thing. The project was proving too ambitious and difficult for them to complete with their six-man team."
"While this was Winterkewl's project, we put a lot of time, energy and effort into trying to help them realise their dream. Since we heard the news, we've been working hard behind the scenes to make sure that you still get awesome stuff and cool experiences.
"Although we're under no obligation to do anything, instead we're going to do our best to make this right, and make you really glad you backed the project!"
This comment is not only disrespectful to the fans but to Winterkewl as well. In the aftermath of these events, we are left with thousands of Yogscast lovers disappointed and upset. On top of that, we also have an indie-game company who is now bankrupt and several people out of a job. And how does Yogscast propose to amend the situation?
"In many ways TUG is the game we were hoping Winterkewl would create. It has huge potential for the future. We've been playing the Early Access version on Steam and you'll soon be able to see us playing the game on Yogscast channels."
No offers for a refund. No apologies on their behalf to us or Winterkewl. All they've done is offer a Steam Key for another Early Access game that probably won't even see the light of day. To me, this just feels like a slap in the face to everyone who has supported The Yogscast.
Percentage of Video Games Funded In Kickstarter That Actually Delivered
So at the end of the day, what has been accomplished? We have a barely finished game, which will most likely never be completed. An indie-gaming company which is now bankrupt and may never make a return. Thousands of Yogscast fans who have been left feeling betrayed and upset. The only person who has benefited from this is none other than the company behind all of it.
Yogscast took no risk in the game development, investing not a penny of their own money. Nor have they tried promoting Yogventures and drumming up support, other than their Kickstarter campaign. Those who have suffered the consequences have paid a price much higher than their money. The good people of Winterkewl have lost their jobs, all because of the greed of two Brits...