Kickstarter Game Fails Due To Crypto-Gambling, Unable To Refund Backers

About “play to earn,” Untamed Isles had been “very enthusiastic.”

At the height of the global blockchain craze in 2021, a video game called Untamed Isles—think Pokémon, but with cryptocurrency—raised more than $500,000 on Kickstarter. A year later, the game is all but defunct and so broke that it is unable to even issue refunds to backers.

It sounds only temporary until you read the rest of what the developers have to say in a post on the game’s Steam website, “We have to suspend the development of Untamed Isles and put the project on hold.”

Numerous things have contributed to the situation that has led to this point, but the bottom line is that we are unable to meet the financial demands of the goals we set for ourselves.

Untamed Isles, an open-world MMORPG where players hunt monsters, is a tremendously ambitious game. We hired more than 70 staff people to work on this project, and we worked nonstop for more than two years to create the game that we all envisioned. The fact is that development is expensive and there were many setbacks on the route to where we are now. The economic environment has altered significantly, both generally and with regard to cryptocurrencies, since we began the voyage in 2020, and we are not confident in the current market. Due to a lack of funding, we are now unable to continue the development.

When people remark that the “economic environment has altered radically,” they really mean that the cryptocurrency market, on which we bet your money, has collapsed:

We jumped into the cryptocurrency sector and quickly grew as a result of the favourable interest. We were overexposed and on a runway that was too short when the incident occurred. Though the game’s design continues to prioritise gameplay over cryptocurrency, crypto funds have grown to be and will continue to be crucial in advancing the release. We genuinely have a fantastic game design that could stand on its own two feet, in contrast to many of the ventures that have failed during the storm. But until the crypto situation is handled, which we are convinced will happen eventually, we must suspend project progress.

And that ass has gotten so far out of hand that the developers state in a separate article that they “are not in a position to refund our first backers” because their cash reserves are depleted. We really regret this and wish the circumstances were otherwise.

Untamed Isle’s crypto elements were optional, and it is evident from backer feedback underneath the “hiatus” announcement on Kickstarter that many people were only interested in the game itself, not its speculative elements. While this could be the part of the story where I say everyone backing this game got exactly what they deserved:

Given that the team had just confirmed a release date of October 6, 2022, and that one of their main pledges during the Kickstarter campaign was that “We are fortunate to have funding that allows us to safely deliver the core functionality and gameplay,” Untamed Isle’s “hiatus” is especially puzzling.