(Edit: A resolution has been reached!)
(Original post below)
It’s all over.
Yesterday, Stronghold Games pulled the Kickstarter for the new Aftershock game after it had fully funded.
According to company president Stephen Buonocore, this was because:
“the Deluxe Edition upgrades (and their associated costs) weren’t resonating with as many people as we had hoped.”
No mention of the naming controversy at all, though I do know at least a few of the original commenters who had pulled their pledges did so after hearing about it.
I’m sure he’s right, though, that the response to the deluxe items and such was very muted as well.
I’d like to post an open letter to Stronghold Games that I hope somebody will forward to them (since I’m still blocked on Twitter). I’d like to get back to the Stronghold Games that we all know and love.
I’m addressing it to Mr. Buonocore as well as Stronghold staff because we really don’t know where the “block” directive came from (though it’s likely, I’m being open-minded)
Here we go.
Dear Mr. Buonocore and Stronghold Games Staff
I was sorry to see that you felt the need to pull the Kickstarter for your new game, Aftershock after disappointing reaction from customers regarding the game and its deluxe components. I know you had high hopes for the game and still 100% support it.
As you may know, I was also disappointed to hear of the controversy regarding the name of the game and regarding a similarly-named game from designer Rex Brynan.
While you state in your Kickstarter update that you’re not sure what the next steps for the game are, I do hope that they include some willingness to work with Rex in some fashion, or at least acknowledge the previous game so that there is no confusion between the two.
One thing I really wish to address, however, is the silencing campaign on Twitter to apparently block anybody who even raises the naming issue with you (including Rex), whether they do so politely or not.
As a member of the board game community on Twitter, I have enjoyed a nice symbiotic relationship with you there, as have others who tweet about playing your games. You have very graciously spread the word about people enjoying your games, including media creators (thanks, Rodney, for that term) whose visibility is expanded when you interact with them.
It was with considerable regret that I saw some of these people who had publicly enjoyed your games being blocked just for bringing up the issue regarding the Aftershock name.
Now that you have pulled the Kickstarter for the game and decided to rethink what your next steps are regarding it, I believe it’s a good time to address the other issue with the game in a much more considerate and measured manner than was done previously.
I encourage you to reach out to Rex and reach some kind of accommodation with him. He’s not asking for much, and just an acknowledgement of the issue from you would go a long way to healing the rift that has formed in the community around this.
I also strongly urge you to end the silencing and unblock those that you have blocked for this reason. There was no clear reason why you felt the need to do so and I think undoing it would make a statement that you are willing to listen to your customers and not shut them out.
Many of us were just looking for you to address the issue. How you addressed it would have been up to you, and just the fact that you did address it would have been enough.
As you move forward with your future Aftershock plans, I do hope you keep these words in mind.
I think the block campaign has hurt your brand and it would be nice to get back to what we do best: playing games.
I would like to get back to enjoying your games.
The block campaign has left a bitter taste in my (and many others’) mouth and removing it would be a step in the healing process.