The Homeworld series is fondly remembered for its excellent real-time strategy elements and space-fairing gameplay. When the rights-holder, THQ went bankrupt earlier this year, the rights to the Homeworld (and other) intellectual properties were put up for auction. The auction for the Homeworld properties in particular is scheduled for April 1st.
What does this have to do with Kickstarter? To paraphrase numerous comment threads on gaming websites “wouldn’t it be cool if we got together and raised the money and bought the license ourselves”? Although it certainly would be cool, a few minutes research, and a bit of thought would probably dissuade people of the notion. Not teamPixel LLC though, who have put together a Kickstarter aiming to raise the money to not only secure the IP, but also produce Homeworld 3 for a variety of platforms.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the reasons why you won’t be backing this project:
Reason 1: Credibility
Just who are teamPixel LLC? Well by their own admission, they are based in Missouri, with PCGamesN claiming they specialise in “web design, web development, desktop software, and mobile applications”. Their website does not actually list this anywhere, nor does the Kickstarter page even reveal anything about them. Even worse, a trip to the Missouri Business Entity search doesn’t even reveal the existence of a company with that name.
There is absolutely nothing to suggest teamPixel are even a real Limited Liability Company, as they claim, let alone that they have any of the qualifications to pull off what they’re proposing.
Reason 2: Capital
As far as we know, no-one has attempted to create anything based on the Homeworld IP for several years. However, this doesn’t mean it’s worthless by any stretch of the imagination. teamPixel, having previously failed to fully fund an IndiGoGo campaign, have raised approximately $13,000 (unlike Kickstarter, IndiGoGo raised funds are collected, even if the target is not met), of which a slice will go to IndiGoGo and other expenses. It’s a big question mark as to how much of that is actually left at this point.
Their Kickstarter target is $50,000, which they’ll collect if it is successfully funded. So it could be that they have $50,000 or upwards to bid with. How much is the Homeworld IP likely to go for though?
Well if the previous auction is anything to go by, it will be at least six figures. The weakest property on offer so far, Homefront, went to Crytek for $544,218. A far cry (no pun intended) from the $50,000 that teamPixel will have.
Assuming that they somehow manage to win the IP in the auction, how do they expect to have any money to do anything with it?
Reason 3: Transparency
I can live with the first two reasons to some extent. Enthusiasm can carry you so far. But by far the most worrying indication that this is scheme concocted to steal money from Homeworld fans is the utter lack of transparency.
Visit the Kickstarter page, and you’ll see a lot of misleading information. The headline reads “Fund Homeworld’s return to gamers through Homeworld Touch on iOS/Android and Homeworld 3 for PC/Mac!” which is simply not the case. What they are really asking you to do is provide funding to allow them to bid on a property at an auction, but this is carefully concealed via a lot of doublespeak. And here’s the really insulting part: after you give the (maybe) web developer(s) money to buy the IP, who will own it? What’s to stop them simply selling it off at a later date?
If you’re looking for more disingenuity, you’ll find it right there on the Kickstarter page. They’ve posted links to articles that simply have written about their campaign as opposed to any supposed legitimacy (though in fairness, some of those should have done some basic research before writing about this sham), and they’ve posted youTube videos that by their own admission are not affiliated with the project. They show a questionable video of “Homeworld running on iOS” (there’s literally nothing to show that it’s even an iPad, but in any case, it’s not even close to ), a photo of a Homeworld screenshot on an assortment of iOS devices, as if this proves some kind of point, and then post a bunch of infographics utterly lacking in the “info” department.
Most horrifyingly, they claim to be in a position to be able to offer a “money-back guarantee”:
If we are unable to license and produce the project, we will refund your donation. teamPixel will even cover any campaign fees so you don’t have to.
Meaning that they plan to pay Amazon, Kickstarter and PayPal’s cut out their own pocket. That’s either incredibly naive or simply a sign that they’ll tell you whatever you want to get your pledge.
Somehow, teamPixel have convinced 584 backers to part with $27,000 in funds. Ignore the fact that some games websites seem to be in half-hearted support of this, and please consider this very carefully before clicking “Back This Project”.
UPDATE: The Homeworld IP has been acquired by Gearbox Software.