Area 35 Reportedly Scammed Project Phoenix Kickstarter Backers to Develop Tiny Metal, Developer Fires Back With Sexual Harassment Allegations

Original Story: According to former Tiny Metal marketing and PR manager Tariq Lacy, the development team behind Project Phoenix has reportedly scammed its Kickstarter backers. This was done in an attempt to secure funding for Tiny Metal, which was recently delayed from November 21st to December 21st on Switch, PS4, and PC.

Back in 2013, Project Phoenix launched on Kickstarter with an initial goal of reaching $100,000. The campaign ended up raising 10 times that goal, resulting in just over $1 million raised through nearly 16,000 backers. Since then, Project Phoenix has yet to release, but backers have been given frequent updates on the JRPG’s progress.

Also: Session Exclusive Interview – Kickstarter, Reviving the Skate Genre, Switch, Games-as-Service and More

Interestingly enough, the most recent update on the Project Phoenix Kickstarter gave all of its backers a chance to try out a demo of Tiny Metal. Former PR manager Tariq Lacy took to the official Project Phoenix Facebook and posted a lengthy letter, detailing how Project Phoenix’s developer Creative Intelligence Arts was created solely to fund Tiny Metal, then shut down and became Area 35 as it is known today.

Tiny Metal Project Phoenix

The Facebook post has since been taken down, but thanks to NeoGAF user Aurizen, we have screenshots of the original. Lacy claims that Hiroaki Yura – CEO of both the former Creative Intelligence Arts and the now Area 35 – ordered him to “deflect any accusations” that the funding was from anyone other than private investors. Lacy also goes on to write:

Tiny Metal Project Phoenix

One of the recent updates for Project Phoenix from August earlier this year lends credibility to this possibility. Hiroaki Yura notes that the team has “been working on another project to secure a large investment for Project Phoenix.” It remains to be seen if this is what is really going on or not, and we will update this story if we receive any updates from Lacy or Area 35.

Update: In a statement to Kotaku, Hiroaki Yura claims that Tiny Metal’s “initial investment came from a group of investors from Australia. This wasn’t enough however, to finish the development so the rest came through a deal with Sony Music Entertainment.”

In addition, Yura claims that the post was “posted by a staff whose contract has been bought out due to him being a toxic employee who has sexually harassed our female staff amongst many other problems. The post is factually incorrect and thus was deleted from our account.” In response to Kotaku, Lacy has denied the sexual harassment allegations.