Precursor Games Launches Questionable Kickstarter Campaign


The crowdfunding efforts for the spiritual successor to Silicon Knights’ Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem have now been extended to Kickstarter. Precursor Games is looking for the remaining 1.35 Million it needs to successfully create Shadow of the Eternals for the PC and Wii U platforms. However, the Kickstarter project creation  is troubling for several distinct reasons:

  1. Silicon Knights states that the studio is still operating without it’s former President Denis Dyack, but it’s CFO, Mike Mays, is unable to cite a studio location.
  2. Denis Dyack’s LinkedIn states he’s been the Chief Creative Officer at Precursor Games since July 2012, which means he made the jump to Precursor just one month after the Epic lawsuit went south for Silicon Knights.
  3. Silicon Knights DID confirm it’s closed offices, laid off employees and sold some of it’s development assets, including computers, to Precursor Games.
  4. Precursor Games is a Canadian development studio, which directly contradicts Kickstarter’s project creation guidelines.
  5. The initial funding goal on Precursor’s official page was set at 1.5 Million and aimed to cover one episode of content. In contrast the Kickstarter backer tier that starts at $25 offers multiple episodes as part of the pledge tier.

Kickstarter has been under fire as of recent with projects like Zach Braff’s Wish I was here, Penny Arcade’s $10 funding goal for a new podcast and now what seems like the bending (not breaking) of the companies eligibility rules. This will be the first time Kickstarter has sanctioned a project north of the U.S. border. When Game Informer reached out to Kickstarter for additional clarification of how a Canadian studio was able to launch a campaign they were given this statement:

Regarding who on their team meets those requirements, that’s really a question to pose to them.

This seems to be stating that at least one member of the Precursor team meets the standard guidelines all projects need to adhere to. It seems as if Kickstarter may have allowed a project to be created on a small mention of a Buffalo, New York office. If a member of Precursor Games alleges:

  • You are 18 years of age or older.*
  • You are a permanent US resident with a Social Security Number (or EIN).
  • You have a US address, US bank account, and US state-issued ID (driver’s license).
  • You have a major US credit or debit card.

They should be held accountable for providing said credentials to the crowdfunding platform. If credentials were given to Kickstarter they aren’t necessarily (I don’t believe anyway) subject to releasing said information to legitimize a project. However, Precursor Games shouldn’t have any issue with providing these credentials in a much needed gesture of transparency. No statement has been made at this time.

Until this point we haven’t even mentioned the lawsuit former Silicon Knights President Denis Dyack is tied to. The now essentially gutted studio ran into trouble with Epic over it’s failed use of the Unreal Engine 3 game development tool. Silicon Knights alleged Epic withheld important pieces of it’s Unreal Engine during the development of Too Human, which resulted in the studio having to make use of a proprietary game engine. The suit was settled nearly a year ago today completely in favor of Epic.

Questions are mounting at an alarming rate in reference to the Shadow of the Eternals Kickstarter campaign. If Precursor Games hope to succeed in their funding efforts, and in the future as a legitimate developer, they’ll have to provide some much needed clarification to the media. Our hope is that credentials are readily provided and Kickstarter is subtracted from this less than savory equation.

We’re simply putting forth the facts and unanswered questions that have many feeling cautious about Precursor’s campaign.

UPDATE: We’ve reached out to Precursor Games for further clarification. We’ll update with more information as it becomes available.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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  • Lokiador

    An interesting article. Debunking potentially fraudulent or unreliable project is important and undoubtly help in establishing crowdfunding credibility.

    However, I am not very fond of you arguing they have not duly proven that they qualify as US based developpers (instead of being Canadian).

    It is KickStarter choice to limit access to the platform to US and UK residents. Yet, do you actually need to act as a ward for this provision ? In a way, If Kickstarter does not thoroughly enforces this rule, all the better, no need to press them to be more stringent. If the developper is Canadian instead of being an American or a Briton, what does that change ?

    • It’s a question of integrity, crowdfunding can easily turn into a slippery slope when not sanctioned correctly. If you read the project creator guidelines it plainly states that only US and UK citizens may create a project on the platform. This possible bending of the guidelines may be indicative of more ambiguous issues coming up in Kickstarter’s future.

  • Makura

    Sorry but I’m really not getting the ” This will be the first time Kickstarter has sanctioned a project north of the U.S. border” part… I personnally backed several projects started by europeans company, clearly annoucning their location in their profile. It’s always been my thought that as long as one company member could act as a relay between KS and the company itself it was a go…
    Of course in our case it doesn’t adress the real issue about the project : is Precursor a (quite obvious) attempt to escape to Epic lawsuit consequences ? A sequel to Eternal Darkness would probably be much more successful than that project has been so far without the questions surrounding the viability of the company…

    • The ‘north of the border’ part is in reference to the fact that Kickstarter doesn’t sanction Canadian projects. If you read the guidelines we’ve linked within the article you’ll see that project creators need to be either U.S. or U.K. citizens. The other, more pressing matter is that which you have brought up about the Epic lawsuit.

      • leBaronUnderbite

        Well I don’t think the fact that they have a really limited presence in the US is such a big deal, but at least you used the GI article as your source on that part. However, Dyack and the new Silicon Knights team won’t be getting a dollar from me. I don’t care where in the world they are.

  • Avaloner31

    There have been alot of Non US games on kick starter. There is nothing wrong with regeistering an office in the US even if the game is not devloped there. Many games have done this. Take a look at battleworlds Kronos and Pulse as examples.

    • Your absolutely correct about Battle Worlds: Kronos and Pulse. This article is more of a cautionary piece due to the fact that Precursor has yet to comment on the inquiry Game Informer posed them in regards to what member meets the requirements. The inconsistencies in their dual crowdfunding campaign are also something to be cautious about.

      • Fanboi5

        It may be wrong that they’re falling under more scrutiny than other campaigns, but being who they are it’s probably deserved. This is all just to try and make a sequel to Eternal Darkness while dodging the Epic deal. It’s not Epic’s fault they made a crap game out of a tried and tested engine.

  • In regards to the legitimacy of the US team member or POC. We included that in the article due to the fact that Game Informer reached out and was stonewalled by Kickstarter and met with silence from Precursor. That’s a small part of what makes this crowdfunding effort a house of cards.

    • I should have noted that I agree completely with the rest of your arguments. Not that it seems it will matter as the project has almost no chance of being funded at this rate.

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