Maksym Pashanin, the developer behind the fully-funded Kickstarter video game Confederate Express (which you can't spell without "con"), has been caught in an AirBnB scandal that has received nationwide attention.
Cory Tschogi, the owner of a condo in Palm Springs, Calirfornia, entered an agreement on the popular website Airbnb with Pashanin and his brother to host them at the property for a 44-day period between May 25 and July 8. Most people who offer their homes through Airbnb have no trouble receiving payment, but the duo refused to pay at the end of 30 days or to leave the premises.
In many states, that would be easy grounds for eviction, but in California, squatters rights state that renders that occupy a property for longer than 30 consecutive days become full-time tenants on a month-to-month lease. Tschogi attempted to cut off electricity but received a text as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:
The guest texted back saying he was legally occupying the condo and that loss of electricity would threaten the work he does at home that brings in $1,000 to $7,000 a day.
The texts threatened to press charges for 'blackmail and damages caused by your negligence and malicious misconduct, including $3,800 PID Espresso machine as well as medical bills for my brother's hospital visit after he got sick here drinking unfiltered tap water.
If these allegations are true, then I have only two words: dick move.
This isn't the only point of controversy, either. The roguelike adventure title Confederate Express received over $39,000 out of its initial $10,000 goal, but it was committed to a June 2014 release. When backers began questioning their investment, he offered a reward pack for another game; however, that game was another Kickstarter title by Kilobite called Knuckle Club (sitting at $742 out of a the $25,000 goal). So whatever attempt at making the backers feel less swindled didn't work.
According to the latest update on the project posted on July 20, an investment group has stepped in, causing delays to the title's development schedule:
...when ConEx concept surfaced on Kickstarter, I have been contacted by a small investor group that was very excited about my new pixel art engine tech, and with their own project (Knuckle Club) nearing completion, they saw an opportunity to become the first game with per-texel pixel art post-processing technology (what a tongue-twister, haha).
That was when the investors presented me with an offer to purchase Kilobite and hire me as a their full-time employee; but the biggest concern for them was Knuckle Club becoming the first game with pixel art post-processing tech. That's where an offer for extra funding of my personal project (Confederate Express) and the non-compete clause restrictions came from.
But I have never seen the situation this way in my head. The only thing I wanted was to make Confederate Express the best game it can possible be, and being high on amazing feedback from the vast Kickstarter community, I have foolishly started chasing an impossible dream. Budgets got bigger and bigger, work kept piling up, and deadlines kept getting delayed.
...With recent update it was my lack of business expertise and poor decision-making that has led to a major outrage of ConEx backers, which have also affected my employer's reputation as a brand; I made an oversight by delaying my personal Kickstarter project in favor of getting extra stretch goals funding for it. I wanted to sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for an apparent lack of communication and poor planning on my part. I take full responsibility for recent events... I am now aiming for a December 2014 release date, with a closed beta starting in November 2014.
In the end, it was my poor decision-making and lack of communication skills that led to this unfortunate situation, and I will do everything in my power to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
Unfortunately, that was four days before the Airbnb incident gained the attention of CNN. Oh, just can't escape that "poor decision-making," eh? In fact, this entire incident seems like an indie developer not making the right decisions in planning, finances, and communication. The word "clusterf***" comes to mind.
That said, the Pashanin brothers should move out and get this entire Airbnb scandal behind them. I hope that Confederate Express and Knuckle Club see a release because they actually look solid as pixel-based games, and those who backed Confederate Express should at least see the game exist. (Do they have squatter's rights to this game now?)
[Thanks, Necrowolf, for the tip!]