Friday, May 15, 2015

Dust Dramas Part XXVI

By CaulynDarr

And like sands of the hour glass, these are the days of our lives.
Dead game is dead at this point.  Last week Paolo sent out a message saying Dust Studios relationship status went from "It's Complicated" to "Single".  Battlefront took their time, but responded with a full salvo using American arty rules.

It looks like both sides are so far in the weeds they don't see their way out anymore.

The key issue here seems to be communication.  Both parties relied on Paolo for pretty much all their communication, early on.  That led to all kinds of issues like Dust Studios never telling Battlefront about the terms still in place with their previous distributor.  Namely that Fantasy Flight Games got to keep exclusive rights to distribute certain stock list items until their inventory was depleted.  This caused many delays in getting the initial BF distributed waves to market.  BF admits that had they known this, they would have never signed on to take over distribution in the first place.

That was always something me an the other back40K guys always wondered about when the rumors of the FFG distribution constraints first started to come out.  BF isn't always the smartest, but it stretched credulity to think they where dumb enough to get into that situation knowingly.  It looks like the relationship between the two companies went sour very early on.

The crux issue on free reward items is also a result of communication breakdowns.  With Paolo making promises that his business partner didn't agree to later on down the line.  

BF is saying they'll pay DS the remainder of the money for whatever they have produced if DS would just send a list of what that is.  William Yau, CEO of Dust Studios, says he did that, but that response is contradictory. DS admits they didn't get a list of what to make until November and didn't start working on it till after February. And then only at a slow pace. If that is accurate, how could Yau have sent completed inventories of actual produced goods in November and December? The April one maybe could have been what BF wanted. But it could have still been incomplete at this point if the didn't finish manufacturing until the last few weeks.

This may really be an issues of DS wanting all the money for all they have, while BF only wants to pay just the money for just what DS has.  Also that they no longer trust what each other is saying.

Language barrier and cultural issues could be a big part of this. Battlefield did screw up on the pledge manager, but really pledge manager screw ups are very common in Kickstarters.  If Mr. Yau expected it to be Kickstarter ends->BF collects money->BF pays DS->DS manufatures models, then the whole "BF spends months building a complex piece of software to take customer orders after said customers already paid" step could be a little frustrating.  I think DS and BF are just accustomed to doing business differently, and Paolo, as an intermediary, was just never up to the task of resolving that cultural barrier. Especially given his own agenda as the creative force behind the universe.

Another important piece of information came out from BF's response.  I had always assumed BF chose to pay the factor loans off first out of self interest.  The contract stated that new Kickstarter items where to be payed out first.  Turns out that DS requested this out-of-order payment.  Really, the out-of-order payment was the only contractual point of contention that I could see going in DS's favor.  Since that played out before the freebies issue was realized, BF thought that they had enough money that the factor bank payments would not be a problem.  BF may have been herp-derping it up at a few points, but it seems like they never did so intentionally.

A further nail in the Dust(the game not the company) coffin is that BF is claiming ownership of the Dust 2.0 and Battlefield rules..  It looks like they went further that Paolo wanted with modifying the rules for the new edition, but DS signed off on them none the less.  Warfare was dead as soon as FFG lost distribution; it appears work on Battlefield was done right from the start.  Anyway, BF won't let DS have the files unless they pay for the design and development work.  Hence why Paolo sort of announced Dust 3.0.  Yeah, 5 flavors of the rules in like 2 years.    Online retailers like the Miniature Market have started dumping stock at 40-80% off.  Remember how good that was for AT-43? Dead game is indeed dead.

BF proposed a fallback resolution to backers if their last ditch efforts with DS fail.  So hopefully the backers will get some restitution.  Unfortunately, I see plenty of fail when it comes to understanding Kickstarters from many of the backers' comments.  Kickstarters are not pre-orders.  They are a roulette wheel.  Not getting all or some of your promised reward is a known end result of the system. BF and DS did not commit fraud.  They committed incompetence.  Which in this case, I don't think is illegal.  Kickstarter is a platform to help small companies with big ideas, not for gamers to get bucket loads of cheap miniatures.  If that happens it's a pleasant but not guaranteed side effect.


  1. One of those systems I was kind of liking, but... I just did not like the look of the American walkers at all... I kind of liked the German ones, some of them at least and one of them is painted up for use in 40K as an AAA DN since I snagged it for pennies on the dollar. Might pick up a few of the Helicopters as Storm Raven or IG Valkyries... But, shame about Dust being dead. And another strike against KS for me when it looks like an established company is using it as a pre-order system, which I kind of thought when I saw this initially... But, I could of course be wrong :-)

  2. I picked up a couple of the Dust models for use in my Pulp games. One of the helicopters and a couple of sets of Quonset huts. Still thinking about getting a couple more things.

    1. They're good models. And FFG made some good rules. It's the miniature game versions of a Shakespearean tragedy.

  3. Wow.
    What a dumb situation, and because of this, the game is gonna die.
    That's a damn shame.

    1. Dramas are all too common in the games industry. Don't get me started on how a certain Sony Exec once torpedoed a video game I worked on in part because she didn't like purple, and there was purple stuff in our game.

      The industry is full of people with the mentality of a 12 year old who think they can run a company. Regardless of the quality of the games themselves, simply keeping a company running for more than a few years is a feat unto itself. That Palladium is still around says that someone there knows what they're doing, even if their products are consistently disappointing.


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