A Kickstarter Gone Wrong: When Backers Attack

A Kickstarter backer claims that the head of the funded project, Code Hero, went rouge with pledged money. Alex Peake may have gone under the radar for months with not even a word to his benefactors, but disgruntled donors have brought him back to the surface, and are demanding an explanation.
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Primer Labs’ Code Hero was touted as a game about creating games — an invaluable learning tool — in its Kickstarter plea earlier this year. In February, funding ended, with Primer having raised $170,000: 70 thousand bucks over goal. 

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Some supporters offered their pledge under the promise of receiving a physical copy of the game. That didn’t happen.

In fact, nothing happened.

About that game you promised

Alex Peake, head of Primer Labs, has been M.I.A., giving his benefactors the cold shoulder. Some allege that Peake hasn’t responded to their e-mails asking about game progress or asking for full refunds. Primer and Code Hero official Twitter pages have had sparse posts for the concerned, with the last coming on September 6. 

Peake surfaced again last month in an interview with Videogame Writers. He admitted that the pledged 170 thousand bucks probably wouldn’t be enough to bring the game to fruition:

What will determine how quickly it gets ready is how quickly we can get the necessary funding and programmers to do it. We can deliver a bunch of levels that deliver on what we promised originally, but what we have in mind is ten times more ambitious.

His terrible handling of this opportunity didn’t stop him from later asking already disgruntled backers for additional funding to back an even more ambitious project: a Code Hero MMO. Yeah, that’s ten times more ambitious.

Word of this botched interview spread quickly, and scorned backers became more outspoken.

It just got real

Messages flooded in on the project’s Kickstarter page. Savvy benefactors took to the media to get the word out. One who demanded to be seen is Dustin Deckard, who has made himself visible on many industry sites, explaining his predicament:

You should know, right off the bat, that based on what we’ve found (and been told) – Alex Peake seems to have run out of money after spending it recklessly, and doesn’t plan on continuing with this project. There are well over 1000 backers out there who pledged for physical rewards. And, tragically, 6 backers who pledged at the $1k level who thought their money would be well spent on an educational tool for schools.

As I’ve said before I’m sort of desperate to be proven wrong about all of this. An update on the status and future of Code Hero would be more than welcome.

Deckard urges unfulfilled to contact him at [email protected] to discuss the situation and their options. He claims that a “modest number” of backers have already touched base with him, sharing their sleuth-work. Deckard says that he is considering other routes to resolve these issues before turning to the courts.

The mob has spoken

In response to the uproar, Alex Peake released a statement through Primer Labs apologizing for his complacency:

I know the level of frustration some people have is high right now and that it is my fault for not communicating about our ongoing progress, but I want to reassure everyone who has backed us not to panic: Code Hero is not dead and we will not let our supporters and Kickstarter backers down. All our backer rewards will be delievered along with the game. It is taking longer than we hoped, but the game is becoming awesomer than we planned too.

This is still a somewhat empty statement for people who have been waiting almost a year to see an return on their investment. It wouldn’t do anything to assuage me as an investor.

Please, please — don’t find yourself in this sort of situation. Read a word of caution regarding Kickstarter campaigns here, and protect your hard-earned money.

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Imayen Etim
Imayen Etim is a freelance writer and GameSkinny contributor based in Gainesville, Florida. She can be contacted at imayen.e [at] gmail.com