Monday, July 31, 2023

Chronicles of Elyria: A Tale of Financial Missteps and Unfulfilled Promises


In the world of MMORPGs, the journey of Chronicles of Elyria stands out as a cautionary tale. The game, developed by Soulbound Studios, has been marred by a series of setbacks since its inception in 2016. Despite raising a substantial $9 million through Kickstarter and their website, the game has failed to see the light of day. The latest developer journal by Soulbound Studios owner Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh attempts to shed light on the studio's financials, but it only raises more questions about the management of funds and the studio's priorities.

A Financial Breakdown or Breakdown of Trust?

The developer journal provides a financial breakdown of the studio's expenditures from 2017 to 2019. While this attempt at transparency might be appreciated by some, it seems more like an effort to justify the lack of progress. The studio has spent a significant portion of its funds on salaries and benefits, despite Walsh himself stating he hasn't taken a salary since 2020. This raises questions about the allocation of funds and the studio's priorities.

Lessons Learned or Lessons Ignored?

The post also includes a section on "lessons learned", which seems to be an attempt to acknowledge past mistakes. However, it comes across as too little, too late. The studio has had years to learn from its mistakes, yet it continues to disappoint its backers. More importantly, the lessons learned seem to highlight how ill-prepared Walsh was to run a studio, as he “learned” about payroll taxes, health insurance, liability insurance, and generally how crowdfunding income works.

A History of Controversies

The history of Chronicles of Elyria is plagued by controversies, from the failure to meet release timelines to a class-action lawsuit filed by backers demanding refunds. The lawsuit, which was filed in response to the game's abrupt shutdown after delivering nothing more than a basic parkour demo in 2020, was dismissed in October 2022. However, the dismissal of the lawsuit does not absolve the studio of its failures.

What's Next for Chronicles of Elyria?

The recent post seems to be an attempt to cover Walsh's bases from Kickstarter backers asking for their money back, stating that there is no money left. However, this raises the question: what was the purpose of posting these financials, apart from attempting to deflect blame?

Whether Chronicles of Elyria will ever actually materialize, or whether these blogs continue as a way to placate Walsh’s feelings after belly flopping millions, the skepticism surrounding Chronicles of Elyria is still well-deserved. It's clear that Walsh seems more interested in explaining that failure rather than moving forward, and away, from the Elyria IP altogether.

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