Palladium Announces Collapse of Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter

Back in 2013, Palladium Books successfully funded a miniature wargame based on the Robotech Role-Playing Game (originally published by Palladium in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and reprinted up until 1998). They raised over $1.4 million from over 5,000 backers. However, Kevin Sembieda, president of Palladium, announced today that they were not going to be able to provide some of the rewards for the Kickstarter; and, further still, that Palladium's license to produce Robotech gaming material had expired and would not be renewed.

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Robotech is a sci-fi property featuring alien invaders and mecha. Robotech RPG Tactics is, in Palladium's words, "a fast paced strategy battle game that expands on the popular Palladium role playing game. Take command of the brave men and women of the United Earth Defense Force to valiantly defend Earth from annihilation. Or, command the alien armies of the Zentraedi Armada to recover an alien artifact of immense power and enslave humankind. Collect your forces from an expanding range of world class game pieces. Relive the massive battles on your tabletop at home to enhance your Robotech® RPG adventures or as a stand-alone game."

In a lengthy update, Sembieda explained the various woes which have plagued the project.

Originally scheduled for a Fall 2013 release, the company ran into problems when the found out the 3D design files for various game pieces were not compatible with the manufacturer's process.

The second setback came when shipping costs increased (or, as Sembieda explains it, changed from being paid for not just by the weight, but also by the physical side of the package) which added around $200,000 to the project's shipping costs.

Apparently the Kickstarter money was all spent on the "Wave One" rewards; it's the Wave Two rewards which the company is unable to fulfil, the cost of which they estimate as being in the region of half a million dollars.

Palladium is offering Wave One rewards in place of Wave Two rewards, as long as the recipients pay for shipping.

The reactions are as to be expected - backers are angry, and most appear to be rejecting the offer of replacement rewards. There are many demands for refunds, some discussion about lawsuits, and plenty of venting. There's even a Facebook group for people who wish to sue Palladium. What will happen next is anybody's guess, but this isn't the first high profile Kickstarter to fail, and it won't be the last.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

stargazera5

Explorer
Kevin Sembieda explained the various woes and ignored the biggest woe of all, Kevin Sembieda himself. I passed on the recent Bundles of Holding featuring Palladium books even though I would have snapped them up previously specifically because the horrific customer service they did on the RRT kickstarter. The rollout of Palladium Books on DTRPG would also have gotten me to buy, Nope, not supporting Palladium any more.

I signed up for the payoff with wave 1 merchandise so I cann be done with this fiasco, but of course most everything I really wanted was wave 2. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Actually, the announcement is even bigger than just RRT. Harmony Gold pulled the entire Robotech license from them, so the entire RPG is being liquidated. I'm not really surprised at this, to be honest. The last new book Palladium did int his line was the Expeditionary Force Marines book back in 2015. Since I didn't want to support Palladium, I've been keeping an eye out for used copies copies online. 2.5 years and everybody still lists it as new, there are no used copies to be had. That says something right there.

Hopefully HG, after a suitable cooling off period, doesn't give up on RPG and miniatures for Robotech but decides to find alternate companies that can actually do something decent with the property. I'd love to see Reaper or FFG get the miniatures license.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
One thing I've insisted on for our Kickstarters over the last couple of years, which has served us well, I think, is that I won't launch one until I am physically *holding* the final product in my hands; and I prefer to avoid stretch goals unless I can say the same about them. Admittedly, books are much easier to do that with than boxed boardgames and miniatures.
 

Osgood

Explorer
This comes as no surprise from the vast majority of backers. I'd say most of us knew there would never be more products for 2 or 3 years. The galling part is the steady stream of lies from Sembieda since wave 1. If he'd been up front about all this back then, I think most people would have grumbled about it and moved on; now I think he'll have headaches for yours to come.

The game was pretty lousy, and I've played it exactly once, so wave 2 was kind of pointless for me personally. I wrote off that money years ago any way.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I looked over the page, but I wasn't clear on what Wave One and Wave Two were? Where should I be looking for that info? I'm probably just being blind.
 

Ghal Maraz

Explorer
No, there's no hope at all. License pulled=any production immediately ceased.

And that also means that any back catalogue must be destroyed, which is telling of this whole Kickstarter fiasco; I'm not even a backer, but I can still clearly see the horrible customer mistreatment behind this last desperate proposal of offering Wave 1 products instead of the promised Wave 2.

You know, Palladium is offering to people - who've long ago paid (a lot of) money - the possibility to exchange their KS "credit" for products they aren't probably interested in, at their full retail price, and adding the shipping costs!

So, what Palladium is trying to is:

- violating Kickstarter's Terms of Service (project creators must deliver all promised rewards OR refund backers: it's simple as that);
- trying to prevent backers from sueing them, as exchanging credit for products would then make it impossible to complain;
- disposing of products which they must otherwise destroy (a very expansive affair) at no cost for them, by making backers pay for shipping;
- reducing the volume of said exchange, by applying full retail price (to items which are now worthless, as they can't be otherwise sold at all);
- refusing to acknowledge their failings in this horrible, horrible disaster.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
And that also means that any back catalogue must be destroyed
Well, that depends on the terms of the license. The license will say how it ends, what notice must be given, what happens to existing stock, and so on. In this case, it appears to be an expiry and non-renewal; it probably has a sell-off period for existing stock.
 
Re: the lawsuits

Depending on what Kickstarter's terms were at the time of Palladium's original Kickstarter, the lawsuit may not go anywhere. There's a heavy "back at your own risk" element to them.

But that changes from the standard since Palladium changed what they were delivering and how after money had already been accepted by them. Again, depending on Kickstarter's terms and conditions, this could give the backers room to sue based on the fact that Palladium changed what they'd paid for without their approval. And if Palladium did indeed give false information durnig backer updates, that could also provide grounds for fraud, esepecially if they were still asking for more money -- even if only to cover additional shipping and handling costs.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, as it can make publishers a lot more careful regarding how they use crowdfunding if Palladium gets burned by this (well, beyond the public relations bridge they just napalmed.)
 

Gorath99

Villager
Well, that depends on the terms of the license. The license will say how it ends, what notice must be given, what happens to existing stock, and so on. In this case, it appears to be an expiry and non-renewal; it probably has a sell-off period for existing stock.
Until the end of March, according to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rrpgt/robotech-rpg-tacticstm/posts/2124551?ref=backer_project_update:
Palladium’s license for RRT and the Robotech® RPG book series has ended. That means we will be liquidating ALL Robotech® products, starting with RRT backers who want to receive Wave One items for their Wave Two rewards.

As part of our license agreement, Palladium has a short window (from now until the end of March) to liquidate our stock of Robotech® RPG Tactics (RRT) products, Robotech® Shadow Chronicles® Role-Playing Game books, and the PDFs of the original Robotech® RPG series currently available on DriveThruRPG.com.
 

Jester David

Adventurer
Ouch. That’s short!
Do you think they knew sooner but opted not to say anything?

Conspiracy theories:

1) The short deadline is so people have a limited time to respond and therefor will not opt into receiving something else, meaning they won't have to give away as much product. Having to burn product after a failed licence seems like something they can write off against taxes. And can focus on getting more product to stores prior.

2) Robotech owners Harmony Gold also aren't the most well-to-do company. They haven't successfully done a film by themselves in 15 years and probably stay afloat through their real estate business. Royalties from Palladium would be a nice boon for a property they're likely not seeing money from (apart from what Netflix pays).
I wonder if Palladium is purposely not renewing so they can end this Kickstarter fiasco. So that in a year or two they can point to losing the licence and the cause of why they didn't deliver...
 

thexar

Explorer
KS is an investment. There are risks. It is not a pre-order. It sucks to fail, but these are just toys. The threats and outrage needs to dial it down a bit.
 

Vicente

Explorer
KS is an investment. There are risks. It is not a pre-order. It sucks to fail, but these are just toys. The threats and outrage needs to dial it down a bit.
Kickstarter creators still have obligations. Backers can ask for refunds if what they backed is not delivered. And if not refunded, they can, and honestly should, sue. It has happened in the past and backers have won hand down those situations.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah, Kickstarter changed its terms in the last couple of years to protect backers better. That said, this Kickstarter predates those changes.
 

Lord Rasputin

Explorer
Yeah, Kickstarter changed its terms in the last couple of years to protect backers better. That said, this Kickstarter predates those changes.
The terms in place at the time do pretty clearly state the backers can get a refund:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130418081350/http://www.kickstarter.com/terms-of-use

"Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill."

I suspect Palladium Books doesn't have the money to handle all the refunds, based on its requiring any backer who wants Wave One rewards instead to pay the shipping cost.
 

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