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.