Dr. Horrible board game cancelled after raising thousands on Kickstarter because creator didn’t clear the rights
A board game based on Joss Whedon’s musical web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog has been forced to cancel its Kickstarter campaign after it was revealed that its creator hadn’t been permitted to use the licence.
Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil was based on Neil Patrick Harris’ aspiring supervillain and cast players as villains that needed to work together to complete evil schemes, while plotting secretly to rise to the top of the pile and receive the recognition of Dr. Horrible himself.
The project was the first from publisher Lucky Troll Games and designer Nicholas Engel, who originally slated the board game for release in July 2019.
2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the original Dr. Horrible series – something that may’ve contributed to the campaign’s rapid success, as it shot past its £7,644 ($10,000) target in under two hours and went on to rack up almost four times that amount from hundreds of supporters in two days, the total settling at just over £30,000 with 24 days to go.
However, things took a sudden turn when Engel suddenly cancelled the campaign and posted a long apology to backers, confessing that he hadn’t cleared the rights to the Dr. Horrible IP with its owners.
“Attempts have been made and are being made to contact both the company who currently holds the rights to the IP, and Joss himself,” he wrote. “They have a copy of the prototype and they have been informed of everything we have done. I now know we should have explicitly and clearly stated that this product is currently unlicensed, and more importantly not gone into the Kickstarter in the current stages of licensing.”
Engel went on to admit that he likely rushed to launch the campaign to time with the show’s anniversary which, in retrospect, “should not have been as important as securing the IP”.
“It is very important for me that you, the backers, understand that it was never my intent to hurt or deceive anyone,” he added. “As a new and overly enthusiastic board game creator I ask for your understanding and forgiveness.”
However, despite the setbacks, Engel appears to be keeping optimistic about bringing his design out at some point in the future – though whether that will without the web series “that changed his life” remains to be seen.
“I can’t say how sorry I am for the miscommunication and more importantly for the distrust this brings, but please know that this is sincere and I’ve learned a lot from this,” Engel said.
“We will go back to the drawing board and do this right.”