Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dust Dramas Part MCLVII: Only Matthew McConaughey Can Save Us Now

By CaulynDarr



Maybe you thought this was all behind us.  I mean, wasn't Battlefront sending the last check?  What could possibly still go wrong?  Many things, my friends.  Many many things...



When we last left off in this whole torrid affair, BF had aired all the dirty laundry on Paolo and his business partner, but had agreed to send the last check for their portion of the remaining items.  That shipment is due to arrive in the States soon.  This is how they choose to announce it:

We are pleased to confirm that after several weeks at sea that the ‘Wave 2’ shipment is due to dock in Baltimore on the 29th July. As soon as this stock gets to our warehouse we will begin packing and sending it out immediately. Many Kickstarter orders will then, finally, be complete.
As we said back in Update #108, the Wave 2 shipment will leave minor shortfalls for some products, left over from problems with the pledge manager process for some orders. Those final shortages are covered in a third ‘resupply’ order - the full list of which we have supplied recently to William Yau at Dust Studios. Upon receipt of the order confirmation, which we expect any day now, we will pay this last amount to Dust Studios straight away. This last payment will mean that all paid-for Kickstarter stock has been accounted for in full.
We have already shipped out the majority of Battlefront-supplied free items, and the remainder will be shipped either with Wave 2 or with the resupply ‘Wave 3’ order. 
For the portion of the free product which Paolo Parente agreed that Dust Studios would contribute, we still do not have a final resolution. Mr Yau promised this would be resolved legally after we paid for the Wave 2 shipment, but we are still waiting for this next stage. We are open to dealing with it through whatever channels Mr Yau prefers - either mediation, arbitration or litigation. But as yet nothing has been forthcoming from Mr Yau or any legal representative.
It is important to us that every backer receives everything they were promised, and we will continue to try to make that happen. When we paid for Wave 2, we gave up the ‘leverage’ that we had when we still held those funds. And the reality of geographical jurisdiction means that we cannot practically sue a China-based company. 
What we do have is a right to restrict trade of stock with our intellectual property arriving in the USA and Europe. We intend to exercise this right to protect our legal position and our investment in DUST. 
Given the latest news from Paolo Parente about their new range of products they intend to release at Gen Con, it strongly implies that they intend to ignore the dispute with us and move ahead with their new plans. We want to get this all resolved once and for all so that both companies can go about their business without further interference. But this dispute must be resolved first. 
This message is directed primarily at those who may be intending to purchase new DUST products from Gen Con or elsewhere. We would like to urge you to be cautious, and not to pay for product until you can actually hold it in your hands. It would be terrible if this dispute resulted in more customers pre-paying for DUST products that could not be supplied to them.
It looks like Yau is still not willing to put up for his share of the stretch goals.  At least he's consistent.

I think all that 'come at me bro' posturing, stuff about protecting their IP investments, and not handing any money over to DS has to do with this and this. DS is lugging two new starters to Gencon for Dust Tactics.  The cards and rules have different designs from the recent dust 2.0 stuff BF produced, but may have identical or nearly identical rules.  Some of the contents of the boxes also match items from the Babylon Kickstarter as well.  I've heard they also plan on selling some older models in pure kit form.  Not the normal packaged assembled and based coated variety Dust kits are usually sold as. Probably tying to get around the bad licencing states Dust kits are in between DS, BF, and FFG.

My guess is BF is getting ready to lay an injunction on Dust Studios to prevent them from selling at Gencon. Is their case solid on IP grounds?  IANAL, but maybe, this same stuff tripped up BF with FFG back in Dust Dramas Part I.  Probably a moot point.  This is total war and BF is probably going for maximum dickishness,  If a lawsuit is filed it will be done so that an injuction on sales can get in place and leave little to no time for DS to overturn it by Gencon.

Dust is poison.  All parties just need to let it die, so that they can all move on to something else.

19 comments:

  1. I think this is BF trying to put another nail in DS's coffin. I hate to say it (because of the fans of the game), but I hope DS goes off to die.

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    1. That's a shame, because they did so much right on the model side. Ready to play out of the box! Too bad its promise had to be ruined by personality and financial conflicts between these companies.

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  2. Shame, did not play the game, but it looked interesting and I have a few of the minis I purchased as stand-ins for 40K equivalents... Seems to be a running theme with a lot of these games though...

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  3. It's pretty harsh to wish death on a game system because it has had these troubles. DUST has brought me many hours of hobby and gaming enjoyment. I hope the IP can survive this and continue to bring gamers who love it and its unique vision of Weird War II pleasure.

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    1. I don't wish death on it. More like, hasn't it suffered enough? Let's have some mercy and let it go gently into that good night.

      These trouble all lay at the feet of it's IP creator. You can't have Dust without it at this point. The best thing going for dust were the Warfare rules from FFG and Paolo just couldn't have that.

      It's not all that original in the Weird War II genre. It's Dream Pod 9's Gear Krieg plus Paolo's weird Nazi fetish art.

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  4. don't agree with your assessment at all.

    Battlefront admitted to holding baker's money as "leverage"
    Battlefront threatens to block Paolo but they do nothing to sell or promote the brand
    (click on the DUST store page)
    http://www.flamesofwar.com/gf9online_store.aspx
    and then Battlefront makes a vaguely threatening vaguely libel-ish statement about not trusting Paolo...after admitting they held money back as "leverage"...wow.
    it seems like the only failure for DS was Paolo making a "verbal agreement" he couldn't keep...and Battlefront should know that when he said it.

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    1. What about the failure to tell BF about the terms of their contract with FFG? The one that left BF with a warehouse of product they couldn't sell. What about the string of burnt bridges with distributors DS has left in their wake?

      The Flames store only sells flames stock. You don't see the GF9 board games there either. They did link to a dedicated Dust website from the main page until this relationship went completely tits up.

      If something is vaguely libelish, it's probably not libel.

      And withholding payment during contract disputes is SOP for businesses. I'm not saying it doesn't suck on the backer end of it, but I give BF the benefit of the doubt in that they where doing in order bring about a resolution yo the dispute.




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    2. Didn't notice that that was a link to the GF9 store not the FoW one. Still, I think the store being cleared out is symptomatic of their more recent changes in relationship status,

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  5. "backer's" not bakers...no edit button?

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    1. Blogger does some things well, some other things not so well. I still prefer it to using Wordpress, or installing a 3rd party comment software.
      I'm a bit lazy about it.

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    2. I love Disqus, but Farmpunk has never wanted to install it.

      Delete
  6. Holding money as leverage in contract negotiations is indeed common, but then blaming the other party & basically denying (at the time) that it's happening to the consumers can be fraudulent business practices. It's also misallocation of trust funds. BF was given $$ by the backers specifically for a purpose, when BF tries to use it for other purposes or chooses to hold it to get a better deal for themselves it becomes, technically, a white collar crime. Admittedly not one that would be prosecuted, but it is likely actionable in civil court. This is slightly different than your average kickstarter in that it is 2 established companies, The first running it & buying the KS rewards from the second as they're produced.

    Further, you might really should get both sides of the story before picking one as right or wrong because you're missing a significant amount of information.

    And why hope for death for any game? If any game needs to be put to pasture it's 40k. It's become such a disgusting derivation of the great game it was originally & is now nothing but a money pit the likes of most CCG or even 'Clix games with the need for regular repurchases not just of rules but of army books & miniatures to be able to play at the same ability or level as in the prior edition or codex.

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    1. I've followed all sides of this, and would like to think I've stayed pretty neutral about it. I find BF to be more credible in many circumstances though. They are not a perfect company, but they do have a history of at least trying to do right by their customers. If I'm anti anything outright, it's anti-Paolo. That guy has let his ego ruin the potential of the Dust franchise on many occasions.

      You need to re-check what Kickstarter is, and realize that there's not much the project creators can't get away with legally. Short of outright fraud. Something I highly doubt happened here at all. I feel for the backers. I'm not tied up in this one, but I got half a pledge of Robotech Tactics I'll probably never see plus another half that was a complete disappointment.

      Also, I do not disagree with you about 40K.

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    2. We've been told vehemently many times how we are simply too big of 'negative nancys' about 40K and GW any time we try to critically discuss GW.
      I do know our opinions are fairly similar to the guys down in NZ on the Behind Enemy Lines podcast. Others feel and think the same way we do. http://bel-podcast.blogspot.com/

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  7. My first thought reading this was "hit piece". Giving the author the benefit of the doubt I will just bring up a few salient points:

    1. Battlefront has a history of (to be kind) "less than stellar" fulfillment on their Flames of War line. Horror stories of orders placed on the BF web site going unfilled for months are easy to find.
    2. Battlefront owns the fulfillment and distribution of the Dust Kickstarter. Any failures there can be placed squarely at their feet. I personally have been shorted and mispacked on my Kickstarter distributions, and know others that have the same.
    3. Battlefront received every dime of the Kickstarter funds distributed. There were in their control until Battlefront chose to do whatever with them.
    4. The only reason we're getting any communications out of either party is because Paolo blew the lid off this thing. If it wasn't for that we'd be getting nothing but half truth updates on the Kickstarter page and all the angst would be directed at Dust Studios and not Battlefront.

    Now, on to the rant.

    So Dust Studios is moving on and selling product, good. Maybe now I can actually get the product instead of looking at ***OUT OF STOCK*** line items on invoices and waiting for backorders.

    Since we're dealing with half truths and innuendo in the article I'll play along: this is nothing more than dirty pool by Battlefront to devalue another IP so they can snap it up cheaply and add it to their stable just like they did with Gale Force Nine. If BF was really interested in protecting "their" IP (which is really just licensed from Dust Studios) they might actually try distributing it instead of the absolute failure they have displayed.

    Anyone want to buy Flames of War stuff cheap? I"m selling.

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    1. Deeep breaths man, Deep breaths.

      Have you been involved in a lot of Kickstarters? It sucks to have money tied up in kickstarter that has imploded. Talk to someone who's backed Robotech, or Defiance Games, or Mega Man, or AvP, or any number of others. I feel your pain on loosing out. That's the risk of Kickstarers I've called out BF for getting involved in Kickstarter in the first place because of the moral hazard it creates. But at the end of the day everyone can read the KS terms of service and should know what they are getting into when they pledge. You can take it out on BF if it makes you feel better, but I've read the contract between DS and BF. And it's very explicit who is responsible for refunds on failure to deliver.

      Battlefront has made some major mistakes here, but Dust and Paolo have not helped either. I've always likened this KS to a married couple having a kid to save their marriage. It was never going to work out.

      This whole thing tracks back to Paolo not telling BF about the terms of their agreements with FFG. The failure of Dust doesn't lie in Battlefront screwing up a kickstarter, It's on Paolo for chaining horses mid stream on distribution.

      I've seen you on the Dakka news thread on this. We've both seen all the same news and discussions. People have argued against the points you are trying to make many times there. if it hasn't stuck there, I don't think I'll be able to get though to you either.

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    2. You should go back and read our other articles about the Dust / Battlefront tussle. We try to be fairly impartial.
      We do start forming opinions over time as more of the story unfolds.
      http://theback40k.blogspot.com/search/label/Dust%20Warfare
      This link holds most of what we've covered with Dust/BF.

      Both sides have come out with some half truths, and some outright lies. Given track record, and experience with DS and BF, as well as the statements both companies have made about this situation...
      I feel BF is telling a story that is closer to the truth.
      It also makes clearer that BF made some assumptions about the agreements that were made with Paolo without getting everything in writing from Yau. Paolo negotiated without authorization from his own company to do so.

      Has BF been slow to deliver stuff in the past? yes. They've trusted suppliers to hold to schedules, and for things to not get held in customs. I think they are learning not to sell things on best expectations. Tehy're getting better.

      if you have FoW stuff, I'd be interested. BF's future is looking better, and I like their game. I'll gladly trade you GW stuff for your BF stuff.

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    3. 1) Yes, Farmpunk and I have both experienced extremely long delivery times for mail-ordered FoW items we bought at Gencon. In my case at least, BF ended up not charging me for the order, which was decent of them.

      2) That’s not quite right. Battlefront owns the distribution channel through which Dust models are supposed to be sold/delivered. But they don’t manufacture the actual models, Dust Studios does that, and then delivers them to Battlefront. If DS decides not to ship product to BF, there’s not a whole lot BF can do about it except withhold payment. Such is business. Especially when one party is located in a country that makes lawsuits problematic.

      3) Yes, Battlefront was in control of the monies collected for the KickStarter, and they screwed up the pledge management, adding delays to everything. But once they’ve got a proper tally of what needed to be made, Dust Studios has to then be paid to make and deliver the models, which they have been slow on (to get more money), while Battlefront has been withholding some monies (to get more model deliveries).

      Add to that the debts that BF took on to manufacture Dust items that they couldn’t legally sell (thanks to an undisclosed contract between DS and FFG), and a chunk of that money had to go there. Given the apparent desperation on the part of Dust Studios, I can only assume that they also have debts to pay off. Some of which may be preventing them from manufacturing more models. Since the 3rd party casting houses will only deliver so much product on credit.

      I’ve worked at businesses where cash really was that tight, and the owners kept looking for new suppliers to provide products/materials on credit. Because they couldn’t pay off the old credit lines. To me, this situation smells of that.

      4) That’s true. If Paolo hadn’t aired the laundry, all we would have is rumors and unexplained delays. But it was unprofessional of him to do that, and I don’t think it helped the BF/DS negotiations any. But again, I think he’s desperate, and wringing more money out of Battlefront may be his only viable option for keeping his company afloat.

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