OPINION: Red Ash Saga Has Become a Black Eye

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

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Red Ash | Beck

When Red Ash was announced and launched on Kickstarter a few weeks ago, no one had expected this to become a disaster for both Comcept and Kickstarter. The project was promising just as Mighty No. 9 was before it. A Mega Man Legends spiritual successor tugged the heartstrings of the fans who were burned by the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 on the 3DS. In the end, it got fully funded without Kickstarter, but it has left a bad impression on the community. Unfortunately, there were issues from the beginning that ultimately caused too many problems.

Keiji Inafune and Comcept announced Red Ash at a bad time. Mighty No. 9 was a success for Inafune’s company as it raised millions of dollars before it officially ended. Unfortunately, the game has not been released yet. Some fans were not happy Red Ash was announced before the release of Mighty No. 9. By having a second Kickstarter project launched before the first is complete, there is the possibility Comcept could be stretched thin. The dedicated team for Mighty No. 9 and the dedicated team for Red Ash may have to spend more time on crucial project goals. This could in turn possibly lead to the delay of one or both games leading to fans becoming upset their upcoming games are taking more time than previously expected.

At least they didn’t announce any more ambitious projects to go with it, right? Wrong answer. After the announcement of Red Ash, there was a campaign for an anime adaption of Red Ash. Not only is Comcept working to release Mighty No. 9 and work on Red Ash, but now they are working on an anime. I have never developed a video game or created an anime, but I do know doing both at the same time takes a lot of dedicated resources. Comcept is not a “Triple A” development studio. While they have resources, it’s nowhere near the amount of resources big publishers and developers such as Capcom, Bandai Namco, Activision, and EA have in their corporate offices.

Red Ash | The Animation

Fans and backers have been upset over the lack of details regarding the game. First, some promises were made, but they would never fully disclose the details. For example, there has been a promise for a console port, but it was never specified which console or consoles would receive the port. There has been some confusion regarding both the prologue and the game. Fans were upset when footage of  the alpha build of Red Ash was released as it was not meeting their expectations. In Comcept’s defense, the alpha build is not going to look anywhere near as finished or as complete as the final build — or even the beta build.

With these problems, the Kickstarter project was not meeting its funding goals. Just within the last 48 hours, Comcept was able to secure the funds it needed thanks to FUZE Entertainment contributing the money. The good news out of it is the game will now be ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But one has to wonder if this could have been done from the beginning rather than immediately go to Kickstarter to ask for funds. They possibly could have made a bigger push to publishers to help fund Red Ash.

Now that the game has been funded, Kickstarter is no longer needed right? Well, Inafune and Comcept are keeping the Kickstarter open to fund stretch goals. A statement was released explaining the stretch goals:

The Kickstarter campaign is going 100% towards more content! Consider your pledge a contribution to stretch goals from here on out.

Exactly what are those stretch goals? We’re sorry to say that will have to wait a little while longer! Like we said, we’re very busy with many behind-the-scenes things over here, and we apologize if you feel left in the dark. As you can see, the things we have brewing that are keeping us occupied are BIG, and all for the purpose of getting you RED ASH in its biggest, bestest form. That’s the reason we’re less communicative than we’d like to be!

We know we’re in the final days of our campaign, but we’d like to ask fans to continue their support of RED ASH! Your money is going towards 100% content now, so please look forward to the revised “stretch goals”!

Red Ash | Concept Art

If you want to have people back your project, it is important to disclose everything to them. The statement came off shady at best. It’s as if someone came to your door asking for your money before they reveal what you are purchasing. No one is going to want to back a project without full disclosure of what is going on behind the scenes. Comcept should have explained either the stretch goals or explained what they had planned as stretch goals to better inform potential backers, even if all the details had not been ironed out yet. Fortunately, Comcept is not the worst offender as other projects by other people and companies have done far worse damage.

It seemed Kenji Inafune and Comcept were hoping lightning would strike twice in the same place. Sadly, it did not happen this time around. Through the Red Ash saga, both game developers and potential backers can learn some valuable lessons from it and learn how to manage these scenarios better in the future. Developers should take note and not become too ambitious on Kickstarter. Having multiple Kickstarter projects going on at the same time is not the best situation and all it does is alienate potential backers. Projects always have some risk attached to them and backers should always remember to carefully research the projects they decide to back. It was only a few years ago when terrible Kickstarter projects were making the headlines for trying to take advantage of backers by trying to scam them. Fortunately, Kickstarter has taken steps to reduce scams on the site.

Hopefully, both companies and backers will understand expectations going forward in future Kickstarter projects.

  • Raiken

    I said it once and I say it again; the handeling of Mn.9 had to do a lot with this too. They where asking aditional money while they also dropped ideas, and the community maneger Dian was a terrible person who kicked people off the forums while those people pay her to do her job, all because they where asking questions if she was actually fit to do the job. If everything went as expected then a lot more people who backed Mn.9 would have backed this.

  • Sylveria Shini

    Asking for another boatload of money before Mighty No.9 even dropped was probably the worst move they could possibly make.

  • Cameron Ward

    This Kickstarter definitely had poor timing on it’s side. It was launched with no built up hype for it, it was launched on the 4th of july, a day where no one is reading the news, and it was happening during the week of one of the biggest comic book convention known to man kind. Plus, no Kickstarter should launch in July, there is a reason why the months of June and July are risky since at this time, no one is spending money on Kickstarters. They are either saving up to go to conventions or to buy games that are on their backlog list of games to play.

    Another unfortunate element is the fact that Inafune DID announce a multtitude of multi media projects the same day. it was all too much, too soon.

    I know this next point isn’t 100% agreed upon, but some gameplay would have been nice. Sure, Iga didn’t show a lot of gameplay with Bloodstained, but he had built up hype behind him, plus, this was during the “Screw you Konami” month when Konami was imploding on itself with odd decisions and bad business.

    It was also an unfortunate time due to Bloodstained, Yooka Laylee, and Shenmue III. Money is a bit tight right now lol

    It was a trainwreck of underwhelming and questionable proportions. I do think Inafune got a little cocky and hasn’t really apologized himself for his responsibility in all of this. He sure a shell hasn’t apologized for how bad Yaiba Ninja Gaiden Z was since he was the producer of that project.

  • Fact Core

    “By having a second Kickstarter project launched before the first is
    complete, there is the possibility Comcept could be stretched thin.”

    No there isn’t. That’s not how game development works. The people you need at the beginning of a project are not the same people you need at the end, for one thing, and Comcept was working with a different studio than the one that helped with the development of Mighty No. 9 this time around, for two.

    “I have never developed a video game or created an anime, but I do know
    doing both at the same time takes a lot of dedicated resources.”

    Your lack of experience might explain why you were unaware that Comcept is not an anime studio, and the companion anime would not be developed in-house. Once again, this would be completely different people. What the anime studio did/does would not take any resources away from the game studio. Honestly, this is like saying that the reason CAPCOM hasn’t made a new Mega Man is because they’re too busy with NAMCO putting him in Super Smash Brothers…or that Avengers movies take so long to come out because of all the t-shirts and lunchboxes.

    “For example, there has been a promise for a console port, but it was
    never specified which console or consoles would receive the port.”

    Except for that time when it was, and then that other time when they added more…

    “The statement came off shady at best.”

    No it didn’t. To those of us actually backing the project, this was the Hallelujah moment where we knew that, unlike with Legends 3, all our dedication and emotional investment wouldn’t be waved off under a cover of, “Well we’re sorry folks, but you didn’t care enough.” and the game would definitely get made. As to the stretch goals…you know who else doesn’t announce all their stretch goals up-front? Every Kickstarter ever. Yep, this “shady statement” was completely normal for the way that business on Kickstarter is done.

    “Projects always have some risk attached to them and backers should
    always remember to carefully research the projects they decide to back.
    It was only a few years ago when terrible Kickstarter projects were
    making the headlines for trying to take advantage of backers by trying
    to scam them. Fortunately, Kickstarter has taken steps to reduce scams
    on the site.”

    Comparing this Kickstarter to a scam? Classy…

    tl;dr – You’re an idiot. The real problem with the Red Ash Kickstarters was that people are idiots. People need to stop being idiots.

    • ybeast10

      You’re the idiot for continuing to fund this scam artist’s crappy games.

    • Tara

      Honestly, my issue with the whole thing, and it’s unrelated to development resources is… Inafune is trying to make the whole thing into a multimedia empire, licensing out toys, an anime, and manga for MN9, when it’s not even out yet. Yeah, having these things out when the game is new and relevant is something to consider, but we’re not even sure the game is going to be any good! And honestly, based on what I’ve seen of it, it doesn’t look good. It’s a mediocre Mega Man clone. Inafune is letting the success of the Kickstarter go to his head, and is off licensing it out like it’s going to be the biggest thing ever. I feel this is foolish, when this isn’t even a proven game yet.

      And then he goes off, before even delivering MN9, and wants to make a spinoff based on Mega Man Legends? Which I have even more issues with. I wanted Mega Man Legends 3, but I don’t want Red Ash. Why could this be? Oh yeah, because the reason I cared about MML3 was because I cared about the characters. I wanted to see what happened after MML2, I wanted the continuation of that story. I don’t care about any of these new “lookalike” characters. I mean, holy hell, he’s got knockoff Tiesel, knockoff servbots? Really? Another thing that annoys me about this, is the fact that the MML3 revival community was actually promoting and pushing this project, saying it was “our chance to prove we want MML3”? Not how that works! Capcom couldn’t care less if this project gets funded, and honestly, it’s not going to make them go “Oh, we screwed up, okay, let’s make MML3!” because that’s never going to happen. Red Ash is not a proper replacement for MML3, because the ONLY replacement for MML3 is MML3, meaning, there isn’t a replacement.

      As for comparing Red Ash to a scam… might be a little strongly worded, but I agree with what Jacob was getting at. It’s shady as all hell to say “Oh, we’re not going to TELL you what exactly this money is going towards, but it will be good, we promise!” I mean, I’m sorry, but if you haven’t delivered on your previous promises yet, I’m not going to take that at face value. Frankly, this is EXACTLY what Inafune did, and I have no respect for that. Inafune’s work since forming Comcept has been at best questionable. He’s done “collaborations” with several companies, largely on the “planning” stage, and little else. But then there are projects like Kaio: King of Pirates, that looked promising, and then he basically just abandons? Yeah… Marvelous is a big company, but they ate a 3 million dollar loss because of Inafune’s incompetence. I wouldn’t put it past him to screw over investors from Kickstarter, either. So long as he shows a “good faith” effort to complete the project as promised, he’s not actually really going against the “scam protections” Kickstarter offers, and honestly, investing in a project is not without risks, anyway. You never know if you’ll get something from it, you can’t predict the future. If you lose the money you invested, that’s really on you, and I can guarantee that’s what would be decided in any court of law if one invested in a KS project and it didn’t get made.

    • Ace

      Holy crap, a Comcept shill. I never thought one of those existed.

  • Pedro Rosas

    The problem is that No.9 is not even out, why would I give them more money when I haven’t even gotten what they promised me to get almost a year ago?
    Also I’m sure they could have easily use the profit of No.9 to make the game.
    Lastly this is the type of game I would personally rather play on my Wii U and while I do have a PS4 I would still had prefered a Wii U version.

  • This Guy

    Comcept just went over their heads on releasing the Kickstarter. They would of benefit much more letting Mighty No.9 release and show to people they are fully capable of making quality games, then maybe a month later announce Red Ash’s Kickstarter. Hell, you could of with your credit of Mighty No.9 (assuming it is good), publishers would be all over you to make the next game, so not even needing a Kickstarter to begin with.

    I want Red Ash, I really do and trust they will make something good. But they need to hit the last nail of confidence before I decide to throw money at them again. I am honestly shocked they believed it was a good idea to start it now.

    I just hope they learn from it. Nothing truly terrible happened and the people who did fund it and felt swindled a bit could easily grab their money back. Certainly was not too late. So as Comcept, I would just take it as a lesson and plan ahead better.

  • Aiddon

    I doubt Inafune is going to learn anything; he already proved he was shady during his CAPCOM days and this is just a continuation of that.

  • アコール

    Where’s Dina?

  • Josh S.

    This encapsulates most of my complaints with the project. Kickstarters need to be a lot more transparent with their goals and ambitions. Not doing so only makes them look unorganized at best and diabolical at worst. Igarashi showed how to handle stretch goals well in Bloodstained. I expected more from Inafune, frankly. He got a big head from the success of Mighty No. 9, methinks. Though he should have known from the success of that project how important it is to figure out your consoles FIRST, not late into the project. Very few people want to play a game like this on PC only.