18 July 2018
But that hasn’t stopped it raising tens of thousands
A co-op miniatures board game that has raised tens of thousands of pounds on Kickstarter has been accused of widespread plagiarism.
Overturn: Rising Sands is the first project from Foxtale Studios, and launched with an initial target of £26,000 that it quickly surpassed in under two hours – the amount pledged currently stands at close to £90,000.
The game is described as a “tactical combat based board game with co-op elements” featuring aspects of Middle-Eastern folklore and a scenario-driven story.
At first glance, it seems much like many of the miniatures-heavy board games that go on to drum up support on the crowdfunding website, with slick renders of impressive-looking models and the promise of various Kickstarter-exclusive stretch goals.
Overturn might feel more familiar than most, however, as Foxtale was swiftly alleged to have copied large parts of its campaign and the game’s rulebook from a number of other sources.
The most egregious comparison is with Massive Darkness, the gothic dungeon-crawler from the creators of Zombicide that raised over $3.5 million from more than 22,000 backers.
As originally spotted by BoardGameGeek users and subsequently documented in painstaking detail over on the Australian Tabletop Gaming Network, the layout and phrasing of Overturn’s rulebook appears to have been copied almost unchanged from Massive Darkness.
Foxtales initially responded to the claims by saying that they had used a “template”, before blaming the parallels on an anonymous freelancer they had used to “turn our textual rulebook into something coherent” and stating that the rulebook was an “alpha” version and would not be the final rulebook included with the game.
“We knew that we were sharing a very small part of the rule-book so released it as an alpha version to pacify our eager backers and boy did it back fired,” they wrote in an update on the Overturn Kickstarter page. “When analogies were drawn, we were shocked as well and freaked out.
“However our inability to handle this disaster complicated this issue further.”
CMON CEO Chern Ann Ng responded by issuing a DMCA takedown notice to Foxtales. However, at the time of writing, it remains online.
The controversy deepened as users began to comb the Foxtales campaign page, discovering that its shipping section was almost a word-for-word recreation of Monolith’s policy used during its campaign for Conan.
In similar fashion, Overturn’s refund policy and terms and conditions sections were exactly the same as those used for the Time of Legends: Joan of Arc campaign by Mythic, down to the presence of references to US dollars (USD) rather than the Canadian dollars (CAD) the Overturn campaign was seeking.
Finally, Foxtale Games’ YouTube channel was found to include wording that echoes the company bio of Fantasy Flight Games – though with a mention of “industry-leading customer service” conspicuously absent.
Perhaps strangest of all was the reveal by ATGN that the Foxtales Studios logo incorporated a mirrored and edited portion of the logo for the now-discontinued open-source computer operating system Firefox OS.
As the increasing evidence suggesting plagiarism has emerged, the early success of the Overturn Kickstarter has been reversed, with Kicktraq showing that from June 25th onwards, dozens of backers have withdrawn their pledges, with the campaign losing tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of days. However, the campaign currently remains on course to fund successfully, with just 27 hours to go.
This could mean that, unless it loses a serious amount of money in just three hours, Overturn: Rising Sands may very well be funded. Backers who remain committed to the project will find out next July – when the game is slated to arrive – whether they made the right decision.
Tabletop Gaming reached out to Foxtale to obtain a statement regarding the allegations, but no response was received in time for ths story's publication. We will update the story as necessary.
UPDATE: Kickstarter has suspended the Overturn: Rising Sands campaign mere hours before it was due to complete successfully, issuing an email to would-be backers (via BoardGameGeek) that cited "A creator presenting someone else’s work as their own", "Insincere project goals or claims without a genuine intention to create and share" and "Misrepresenting or failing to disclose relevant facts about the project or its creator" as the reasons for stepping in. As a result, the project will not receive any money.
"We take the integrity of the Kickstarter system very seriously," the statement continued. "We only suspend projects when we find strong evidence that they are misrepresenting themselves or otherwise violating the letter or spirit of Kickstarter's rules. As a policy, we do not offer comment on project suspensions beyond what is stated in this message."