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Old 12-20-2017, 08:35 AM   #1
PK
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Default "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

Richard "D-Cal" Dacalos, co-designer of Upstart: The Board Game, just posted on his blog that PR firm Woodshed Agency processed the funds for his successful Kickstarter campaign . . . and then kept them.

http://d-cal.com/2017/12/20/how-a-pr...starter-money/

That's definitely concerning, especially considering that Woodshed Agency bills themselves as a PR firm that specializes in crowdfunding campaigns. Obviously this is just one side of the situation, but it's telling (IMO) that instead of responding, Woodshed Agency has been blocking and/or deleting anyone on social media who brings this up, even those who've done nothing more than politely ask them to share their side of things. (EDIT: They've apologized for doing that and have responded; see post #6.)

What does this say about trust in the industry? Does it add to the perceived volatility of crowdfunded games (a.k.a. "Kickstarter is a gamble")? Is Woodshed Agency's reaction reasonable or damning?

(EDIT: See post #6 below for a link to W.A.'s reply. D-Cal's post is now updated with a follow-up reply to that reply. This is actually sounding like more of a multi-sided clustermess the more we learn about it.)
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Last edited by PK; 12-21-2017 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 12-20-2017, 09:56 AM   #2
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Default Re: "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

I almost have to ask, what purpose did this hiring of a PR agency do? In today's social media soup, you can do this yourself almost as easily, and not worry about shady a-holes stealing your funds.
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:10 AM   #3
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Default Re: "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

It sure looks damning to me, but it seems so inexplicable, too.

I'm having a hard time seeing how ripping off this one client could pay enough to be worth the hit to their reputation. And it doesn't even seem like the kind of thing that they could have been planning to do from the get go, but rather an impulsive decision to take advantage of the unusual circumstances of this case.
If the client had already had a bank account of their own that they could use to receive the funds, then this wouldn't have even come up.

It seemed like they were happy with the service provided up until Woodshed decided to abscond with the funds, so it isn't as if this company exists solely to prey on the unwary.
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack_JB View Post
I almost have to ask, what purpose did this hiring of a PR agency do? In today's social media soup, you can do this yourself almost as easily, and not worry about shady a-holes stealing your funds.
Not really. Kickstarter has become saturated with independent board games, making it harder for any one designer/publisher to stand out. So I don't see anything odd about a first-time designer enlisting a PR firm to help him generate some buzz and manage social media well, especially when (A) the firm claims to specialize in this and (B) they apparently offered to work for a very reasonable percentage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Ed View Post
It seemed like they were happy with the service provided up until Woodshed decided to abscond with the funds, so it isn't as if this company exists solely to prey on the unwary.
Agreed. I don't think anything here points to premeditated theft, but instead perhaps to mishandled financials and lost money. Of course, from the client's perspective, the reasons the money is (apparently) gone matter less than the fact that it is.
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

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Originally Posted by Mack_JB View Post
I almost have to ask, what purpose did this hiring of a PR agency do? In today's social media soup, you can do this yourself almost as easily, and not worry about shady a-holes stealing your funds.
1) Marketing is a skill. You (a person who is trying to make and sell games, not necessarily you personally) can do PR on social media, in that you can talk about your game online, but you may not have the skills to write good ad copy or compose attractive advertisements, and you may not have the up-to-date contacts and whatever connections are relevant to buy ad space where it'll do the most good.

2) Marketing is a job. Even if you're every bit as good at doing marketing as a PR company, which you're almost certainly not, it's not what you presumably want to be doing, which is making games. Outsourcing your publicity means you can use your time to do what you want to concentrate on.
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Old 12-20-2017, 06:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

Update:

Woodshed Agency has responded. They claim that the Upstart campaign was about to fail, so D-Cal and his crew posted fake pledges to push it to success. In other words, they say the funds weren't stolen, but never existed to begin with. An interesting read and interesting twist. I'm not sure what to make of the situation.

https://medium.com/@jeff_52578/how-a...g-b0582fd11f93
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Old 12-20-2017, 07:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: "Upstart" game designer claims Woodshed Agency PR firm stole Kickstarter money

Wow, Woodshed made some serious mistakes there. They were not partners, they were contractors, and should never have fronted their money or their bank account. What a mess.
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