Jay Little
Caveat Emptor - Nightdive Studios, System Shock and Crowdfunding Risk

05/31/2023 15:14:53

Back in 2016, a younger and mildly more optimistic Jay heard about a Kickstarter Campaign for a remake of the classic title, System Shock. Young Jay had fond memories of the original and immediately pledged $30 to help turn the dream into reality. Expected delivery was in December of 2017. Actual delivery for some was yesterday: May 30th, 2023.

UPDATE 6/1/23: After logging onto the Discord server for Nightdive Studio and making a support request, I was able to finally exchange my PS4 version for an actual Steam key. The provided key seems to work so at least I have finally gotten what I paid for! Nevertheless, this post will remain as it serves as a word of warning when it comes to crowdfunding. Go into it expecting nothing but disappointment otherwise you will be let down ;)

This was the first crowdfunding project that I ever invested in. Prior to this point, I had written off crowdfunding as too risky to be worth my money. However in this particular case the cost to buy in was relatively low and the project itself seemed relatively doable.

Since then I have invested in a few crowdfunding projects. Most have gone relatively well. But this is notable because it takes a lot for me to invest in one of these projects. Most of them just don't pass the smell test of somebody as cynical as myself. Except this particular one. Because I took a flyer on it.

Well as it turns out, this project ran into issues. You didn't see that coming, right? Somehow though, they managed to make it to the finish line almost seven years later, despite the drama. However there is a problem: A lot backers, myself included, have not received their digital copies of the game.

In my particular case, the team at Nightdive is claiming that I selected the PS4 version instead of the Steam version when they sent out the Backerkit surveys back in 2018. I honestly have no idea what I selected back then. I certainly had a PS4 Pro at the time so its not out of the realm of possibility. I currently have a PS5 that I rarely ever use, so if the PS4 version was actually available, I might be able to play it using my PS5.

But of course the PS4 version isn't available, despite Nightdive's recent promises of a simultaneous release. And frankly I don't want to play it there anyway. My wife hates it when I play creepy / horror games on the big screen, so everybody in this household would be better off if I just played it on my laptop or on my Mini PC in my home office.

In any event, despite funding this venture and despite it somehow crossing the finish line, which qualifies as some kind of next-level miracle in my book, I still don't have a copy of the actual game. This of course has left a bad taste in my mouth and makes me wish I hadn't invested at all. I would rather have spent $40 on a finished game today than the $30 I spent back in 2016 on the whimsical pipe dream of the game and enduring years of updates and drama to see it finally be completed.

What makes this even worse is that the game is getting some pretty nice reviews. Which means that despite all of the reasons the team had to cut corners and push something half-ass out to put an end to this debacle, they instead took the time to get it right. Yeah some of the promises they made as part of the campaign hit the cutting room floor (such as a Linux native build), but hey shit happens. I'm okay with that.

I sincerely hope that the team at Nightdive Studios will attempt to put the same kind of time and effort into resolving these backer key issues as they did into the actual game. Based on the Kickstarter comments, I'm not the only one in this boat. In fact it seems that even Liam of GamingOnLinux has been caught up in this as well.

In any event, my advice to my dear readers is that you be skeptical of Crowdfunding campaigns in general. Some are winners and some are losers. The only relevant question is whose pocket your money is in when you find out what side of the fence the campaign you backed lands on.

Once I find out which side of the fence the System Shock Remake lands on for me, I'll let y'all know ;)

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