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A SHERLOCK HOLMES VIDEO GAME SCANDAL


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Elementary, My Dear Holmes

Author: Bálint Teller (Walentin) - Translator: Revati

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Who is familiar a little with Sherlock Holmes knows that the detective is not a swindler. Thinking the opposite is a mistake, or we talk about a parody. But misusing the name of the sleuth happens quite often. In 2013 it occurred in the world of video games as well.

Let’s see how it happened. The team of Canadian company Victory Square Games tried to collect enough money to fund the creating of a video game called „Elementary, My Dear Holmes!” (EMDH). They did it with the help of Kickstarter, the biggest crowdfunding homepage. This page offers an opportunity to all kinds of people (filmmakers, musicians, illustrators or any other kinds of artist) to show their works and collect donations.

Elementary, My Dear Holmes

The creator's target was to collect 50.000 American dollars in 30 days, between the 14th of August and 13th of September 2013. (According to the rules of Kickstarter if the campaign does not succeed in collecting the minimum amount of money it needs, the candidate losts all the money). Their attempt seemed to be successful, they collected the amount they wanted far before the deadline. They already were above the limit. But on the 6th of September the page suspended the campaign – at that time the project had 58.770 dollars. The group had been accused with fraud.

In order to understand the whole story there is another fact. The creators of the game took part in a programme sponsored by Ouya. Ouya is an Android-based game consol, and the company started a foundation called Free the Games Fund and confined one million dollars for supporting independent designers. If participants are able to collect at least 50.000 dollars on Kickstarter but they do not go beyond 250.000 dollars, Ouya doubles the money they collected. To receive the money the new game has to be Ouya-exclusive for six months. This way a fraud can wrong Ouya itself as well – this is the same Ouya which was one of the most successful Kickstarter project with its collected 8.5 million dollars.

But what had exactly happened? During the collecting for EMDH the commenters of NeoGAF forum noticed that too many names are repeated on the list of supporters, and names of celebrities also appeared. It even turned out that most donors refused the granted reward.

According to KickstarterAdventure.com the address and sometimes the gender of the users changed. What is more, these data were nominal on several occasions, what is against the rules of Kickstarter. The site noticed that 474 out of the first 740 supporters registered to the site shortly before the beginning of the campaign, during July and August. 375 people had not supported anything else, and they gave a suspiciously large sum, around 400 dollars per person.

But there are other things as well. Before the suspending of the collecting EMDH got 58.770 dollars from 861 supporters, which means the per capita average was 68 dollars. As a comparison, fantasy game „Balrum” which had been developed by Hungarians (and did not participate in Free the Games Fund), had 1384 supporters and received 52.940 dollars through Kickstarter – this means a per capita average of 38 dollars.

Seeing these sums it is evident that the majority of the donation came from the game creators to their own project. This alone is not a fraud. Fraud begins with the fact that they could rook the same amount of money from Ouya what they have collected via donations. So the EMDH campaign had been suspended and they lost all the money. Another game, „Gridiron Thunder” had the same accusations of fraud, but its team had to give up the amount of Free the Games Fund, they could keep Kickstarter’s money.

To avoid similar cases, Ouya changed its rules of support, but this does not concern EMDH. Creators said they will try to find other supporters, but after fraud accusations it will be quite difficult. So it is very uncertain whether Victory Square Games can ever launch its game. And under these circumstances the mystery of EMDH would not be interesting for Sherlock Holmes himself.

Resources: kickstarter.com, kicktraq.com, and kickstartadventure.com

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" A Sherlock Holmes Video Game Scandal "

Author: Bálint Teller (Walentin)
Translator: Revati

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