Any gamers backing crowdfunded projects have known for a while that it can be risky. You’ve got your straight-up scams like the 2012 case of Mythic: The Story of Gods and Men, which ended up being more mythic than anyone realized. You’ve got instances where things go wrong and everyone’s too busy blaming everyone else to worry about the backers, like the sad case of 2016’s Greed Monger. And then there’s the more recent and bizarre instance of TitanReach. Originally a Kickstarter MMO, the game seems to have died its final death, with those claiming to be in the know accusing the anonymous lead developer of fraud.
PC Gamer reports that TitanReach — heavily patterned after the early-aughts MMO RuneScape — has finally died its final death. The studio behind the Kickstarter MMO, Square Root, has reportedly closed up shop and its lead developer, going by the handle Unravel, has disappeared after allegedly squandering $150,000 of funds from an angel investor on a Tesla and cryptocurrency investments. The allegations come from YouTuber KiraTV, who posted a 22 minute long video explaining the situation. You can watch that video below.
TitanReach first landed on Kickstarter in 2020, advertising itself as “a social, skilled based MMO.” By October of that year, TitanReach had failed to reach its goal $420,000 goal by close to $300,ooo. PC Gamer says Square Root saw some early success changing to a month-to-month crowdfunding model but by August 2021 they simply hadn’t raised enough money and on their Discord they announced that development was coming to a halt. In September, however, Unravel returned to the Discord to announce that an angel investor had swooped in to save the day and fully fund development. In his video, KiraTV identifies the investor as South African cryptocurrency entrepreneur Andre Cronje.
In spite of the new injection of funding, last week Massively Overpowered reported that Square Root announced the studio was shutting down and development on TitanReach was once more coming to an end. According to Unravel’s statement on the shut down, around $1 million had been spent on the game’s development, and around $200,00 was directly from the players. Unravel also explained something apparently most or all backers weren’t aware of — that the game was meant as some kind of cryptocurrency/NFT implementation.
In his video, KiraTV claims the reason Square Root shut down was because the angel investor, Andre Cronje, pulled his funding when he learned that Unravel had allegedly spent $150,00 on crypto investments and a Tesla for himself. KiraTV further claims that when he learned of Cronje pulling his funding, Unravel allegedly attempted to bribe him to stop him from investigating the reasons behind it.
As to whether or not Unravel still has any of the money, that’s a point of some contention. Massively Overpowered notes that in his official statement about the end of the Kickstarter MMO’s development, Unravel assures backers he “is not running off with the funding.” He claims that this is something he couldn’t do because Square Root was being funded in monthly installments. However, the site notes that Unravel claimed to have received all of the funding from the investor up front with no strings attached in September. As of yet, Andre Cronje has not commented publicly on whether or not he is the investor as KiraTV claims. When we know, you’ll know.