Kickstarter Backers Ask for Refunds From Dev Accused of Squatting Airbnb

A developer of a game funded on Kickstarter is accused of deceiving backers and refusing to leave or pay for an Airbnb condo.

Several backers of a Kickstarter project called Confederate Express are trying to get their pledges refunded after the game’s developer was accused of squatting an Airbnb condominium in Palm Springs, California.

Airbnb is a website where people search for or offer a temporary place to stay for a price.

According to KESQ.com, several neighbors identified the squatter as Maksym Pashanin, who’s living and developing Confederate Express with his brother Denys under the company name Kilobite.

Confederate Express was pitched as a PC strategy-oriented tactical RPG. It was succesfully funded on November 20, 2013, surpassing it’s goal of $10,000 with nearly $40,000 from 2,386 backers. Since then, Pashanin produced only a tech demo for the game. In a July 16 update to backers, Pashanin revealed that Kilobite has been working on a “sister project,” a brawler with RPG elements called Knuckle Club, and that due to “recent restructuring of Kilobite,” development of Confederate Express was postponed.

Maksym and Denys Pashanin in the Kickstarter pitch video for Confederate Express.

In a July 20 update to backers, Pashanin explained that development of Knuckle Club took precedent over Confederate Express to satisfy the priorities of a small investor group that acquired Kilobite. Pashanin apologized to backers, but said that he’s aiming to release Confederate Express on December 2014, with a closed beta starting in November.

The woman who owns the Airbnb condo where Pashanin is apparently staying, Cory Tschogl, initially rented it to Pashanin for 44 days. She said he paid for the first month in advance, but didn’t pay for the rest of his stay and refused to leave at the end of the 44 days.

According to a text message exchange between Tschogl and Pashanin obtained by Business Insider, Tschogl threatened to turn off the power to the unit in hopes that the Pashanin brothers will leave peacefully. But Maksym instead responded that he’s consulted with his attorney, and that he’s occupying the condo legally. Technically he’s correct. According to California law, if you rent a property for more than 30 consecutive days, you’re considered a full-time tenant. Tschogl will now have to go through a difficult eviction process, which can cost several thousands dollars in legal fees and take up to six months.

The confusion over investors, multiple projects, and finally this Airbnb situation, has caused backers to lose their faith in the project. Though Pashanin promised that he’ll have another update soon, many of them in the comments are complaining and asking for their money back.

We also recently reported that another Kickstarter project from the popular YouTube channel Yogscast, Yogventures, has been canceled after raising $567,000, though those backers will receive a code to a different game instead.

According to Kickstarter, backers could pursue legal action if Pashanin fails to fulfill the project’s promises or refund them.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg and Google+.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer in search of the Citizen Kane of burritos.

Discussion

127 comments
therealzorvan
therealzorvan

Keep supporting Crapstarter "projects", suckers. I enjoy the entertainment value it always brings me for free.

adroge1
adroge1

"Maksym" spelled backwards is basically "My scam"

pottedPlant7p
pottedPlant7p

Hahaha  Do they sound like they have any cash left for refunds ?  Backers need to take this as a lesson well-learned and be more careful / informed about the projects they back in the future.

Tranula
Tranula

Everyone, calm down.  I say wait and see what happens by December.  You will have plenty of time to sue for your 20 bucks back.

lewishim666
lewishim666

Why is news of a wannabe developer squatting in a rich sluts condo on a gaming site? Slow news day? I'm really getting tired of seeing crap like this in the news feed. This has nothing to do with gaming. You putting in the news about them switching the game up on the backers does not count because it is off topic. Although I do agree that the story about needing to switch the game to satisfy the desires of the investor group is BS. While they can use the investors' money to keep the company going. They don't need it because that is what the kickstarter backing is for. The backers paid to fund the games development. They don't need the investors unless they are trying to pull some shady BS on the backers. The The Headline doesn't mention it so it shouldn't be in the story though. Just like the news about Yogventures shouldn't be in the story. How are Gamestop any less shady then these developers supposedly are? Gamestop is cross pollinating articles of different topics then each other so they can get more clicks on a completely unrelated topic. No doubt starting a chain of binge-reading by people who have nothing better to do and gaining them more ad revenue.

hitomo
hitomo

' squatting an Airbnb condominium ' ... I dont even ...

Sleepyz
Sleepyz

There is no shortage of suckers and no shortage of scammers so till will happen often.

Stick to early access at least you are getting something for the money.

Hurvl
Hurvl

While kickstarter is great for allowing unheard voices to get a chance to make something, I personally always wait until I see the whole thing before paying for something. Luckily, there are many more successes than alleged kickstarter scams, but people always focus on the negative.

blackothh
blackothh

Why the heck would you want to be someone who rents out property if the laws open the door to getting screwed like that? Where I come from, if you dont pay for what you are looking to obtain, then you dont obtain it, end of story.

homey_d_clown
homey_d_clown

IMO the idea behind kickstarters is great, the implementation and it's laws are flawed.

The way it should work is once you reach a certain amount, lets say $5,000 (just an example) the hosting company behind the kickstart should have it reviewed for any red flags, such as this article.

Also once the next goal is reached (lets say $20,000) refund policies should begin to kick in.

VenomousOne
VenomousOne

Airbnb seems like a really bad idea. This is the 3rd time this week I've seen an article with someone pulling the same squatter trick. I think they were all in California too. Cali must have REALLY generous squatter laws.

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

And more and more kickstarters are just trying to rip people off.  They need to implement something soon.

DrYnot
DrYnot

The People's Socialist Republic of California.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

The devs sound like complete scumbags, but I don't think you deserve a refund just because they're stealing real estate.  Ever invest in the stock market or put money in a bank?  You've supported the same kind of terrible people.


If the game fails to materialize then you have a problem.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

"He paid for the first month in advance, but didn’t pay for the rest of his stay and refused to leave at the end of the 44 days."

That's not squatting, that's trespassing.

And I don't think the squatting is the problem why backers want their money back, but the fact that another project took priority after they took the Kickstarter money. Come on, Emanuel, function!

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

This one doesn't sound *too* bad, but I think these terms and conditions are going to need a little amending in the near future.  Developers are feeling entitled to a few too many liberties these days once the money is safely in the bag.

ArabrockermanX
ArabrockermanX

Looks like another project going south, I'm curious does this happen frequently or is Gamespot just playing it up?

Nhoj1983
Nhoj1983

Here's my rule for kickstarters... never spend more than I'm willing to lose for the possibility of a game coming out.  That and do your research on the devs.  Even with the most ironclad developer.  You could get nothing or just something you weren't expecting.  Not every kickstarter is a great success (though many are aka look at divinity or even double fine's game that thing's good).  I still believe in the idea and have funded multiple projects but I always have these thoughts in the back of my mind when I press that fund it button.

charlievo
charlievo

Kickstarter always have been making broke ass people rich.  If they don't rich they still got the donation money and if they do, you won't see a dime from making them rich.

rcj22001
rcj22001

rent the condo, with the 2 brothers living in it, to a few homeless folks for $1 for 29 days.  Tell them to enjoy and help themselves to whatever is inside.

lostn
lostn

I spent $125 on KS to back a game I really wanted being made. I get a boxed copy of the game for this much.. when I could have got a digital copy for backing $20. But I really wanted the project to happen, so I overpaid for the game. This game ended up making 4X what it originally asked for, and is now in trouble. The funds are not enough to complete the project. I kind of suspected something like this might happen. Even a few million dollars is not a lot of money, and games are expensive.


I've learned my lesson now. I'm never backing any more projects. If the game reaches its funding level from other people, I'll just buy the game when/if it releases. I really regret giving them any money now, because they already reached the funded level at the time I backed it, so it would have still been greenlit with or without me. But I felt too sentimental to resist. No more for me. This is high risk stuff.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I am afraid more and more Kickstarter projects will fail and or rip people off, as there is very little clear law around it, and so far no retribution for those that abuse it. 

RapidFirE53211
RapidFirE53211

Housing law needs to change to prevent this sort of crap from happening.

inthepastxx
inthepastxx

@therealzorvan Yet, you don't know how many great games out right now were crowd funded by kickstarter.  Just sounds like your jealous

Relvar
Relvar

@lewishim666  That's how they make money. Did you really think they did this out of the goodness of their hearts? 

moonlightwolf01
moonlightwolf01

@Sleepyz Yeah an alpha that may never be updated or amount to anything. At least kickstarter is more honest, its an investment that may never pay off. Early access is sold on a storefront like its an actual product when really its just as likely to reach a finished state as any kickstarter.

Relvar
Relvar

@blackothh  The laws in California screw over both the tenant and the landlord. The only people who win out here is the lawyers. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@blackothh When you rent out property the tenant signs a contract that you can enforce.  This airbnb tenant ploy means there is no contract which changes the rules.

Relvar
Relvar

@VenomousOne  They do have some pretty messed up laws. If you live ANYWHERE [in the state] for 30 days or longer you have squatter rights. Getting evicted is very difficult too because there is such a backlog of evictions still (going back to 2008!) - average time to get thrown out is a little over a year. At the same time a LEGIT tennant gets screwed too because the laws are (in every other way) very landlord friendly - they will always keep 100% of your deposit regardless of damages for example - and the law backs them. The main takeaway from this? STAY AWAY FROM CALIFORNIA!

thirdscenario
thirdscenario

@daikkenaurora12 They probably won't, though. Kickstarter gets a percentage of the total amount raised on every project that meets/exceeds it's funding goal. Whether or not the project delivers anything that its creators promised is irrelevant; all Kickstarter has to do is say that they really can't enforce some sort of pledge promise fulfillment (which is kinda true) so their hands can be clean as they rake in the cash. This is also why they allow some questionable campaigns that might break their rules or never offer anything to backers to begin with. After all, why do quality control when that would just mean less money for them?

Relvar
Relvar

@mr_nee  What about the ones who aren't in Russia?

Blamethehealer
Blamethehealer

That yogscast story was that they didn't budget and tried to implement every feature the community suggested, one of them dumped thousands of their own money and got divorced over it.

If that guy is to be believed anyway. You're right though, it's just that it's not always theft it's just a lot of regular bad business, too.

srgntpep
srgntpep

@DrYnot As a property manager who has worked in many states that law is hardly unique to California...it takes that long just about anywhere (depending on how savvy the renter is about the law)--it's a failing of the legal system, not a political system.

Blamethehealer
Blamethehealer

He's squatting because they are protected by law in cali post 30. If they were trespassing the cops could remove them. He's got that part of the story right. More importantly how awful is this dude for doing that. Gahd. .

blackothh
blackothh

@ArabrockermanX Ive gotten many successful kickstarters in the video games and board games category, Gamespot is like any other news organization, they would prefer to put bad news in the shuffle whenever possible, it gets them better ad $$$$$$ out of it.

UFOLoche
UFOLoche

@ArabrockermanX Gamespot is REALLY just playing it up.  Many successful Kickstarter projects have come and gone.  They're a group that just focuses on news that'll get them more hits.


I mean, I don't recall seeing Gamespot reporting on the successful River City Ransom kickstarter.(Although I might be shooting myself in the foot here because the game hasn't come out yet, but my whole point is that a new story about that wouldn't have drawn in as many views compared to something like this)

HuntrKillr
HuntrKillr

@Nhoj1983 Exactly. It's like an investment.. I don't think a lot of people see it that way and pile money in without really thinking of any downsides. You wouldn't invest in a house or stocks without doing any research first, so why spend money on something that is just pretty pictures and an idea without looking into who's behind it and what they've achieved in the past. 

wrednajasobaka
wrednajasobaka

@lostn Which game was that, if you don't mind me asking? 


So far I have backed 5-6 different kickstarter projects and while one (Broken Age) did run over budget already the others seem to be on track. Overall, I'm very pleased with outcome and will fund other game projects in the future. However, I only fund studio's/individuals with good track record of delivering games. 

gamespotstay1
gamespotstay1

@lostn These guys were inspired by Zuckerburg and liberals, just lie lie lie to your investors, steal the idea from your investors, then start running The Face Book, risk getting sued later, go public, bring in more money than the lawsuit payout, net profit, marry someone from China, head to China and retire. Liberals & their politicians will break the rules/laws and later revise the laws retroactively to before the crime to make it not a crime.  Maybe inspired by OB? would he have been elected if he told us the 100% truth of what he would do when in power?

lostn
lostn

@jenovaschilld You are warned before you pledge about the risks and to do your research, only giving your money to people you trust.


There is no law around it. It's up to you to use your judgment and make sure your money is going to the right people.

therealzorvan
therealzorvan

@inthepastxx @therealzorvan Jealous? Of what? People that have more money than brains? Not likely.

Those "great games" funded by Crapstarter have been released, right? Then I've probably seen them, and maybe even played a few.

Key word is "released". A final product available for actual consumption. I have no problem paying for something once it's released and has been in the wild for a few months with plenty of reviews to make an informed choice of whether to buy it or not.. What I have a problem with is paying for promises and "potential" and dreams, which is 99.9% of the Crapstarter stock.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Relvar @VenomousOne  I've never heard of anyone getting their deposits back in ANY state.  I had two (2!) grandmothers working on an apartment for hours to make sure everything was clean and tidy.  0% returned and no reasons given at all.

mr_england
mr_england

@gamespotstay1 Why on earth would a liberal retire to China which is an incredibly conservative country? 

torbonator
torbonator

@gamespotstay1 ....... way to turn something into something completely different. This article, this comment has nothing to do with facebook or liberals. So your point has no relevance is just a rant that means nothing other then proving your own close mindedness. 

How do you even know the developers political views to comment on it in the first place?

Relvar
Relvar

@Zloth2 @Relvar @VenomousOne I've had 8 rentals, and the 6 outside the state I got at least 90% of my deposit back. In the 2 I've had in CA, I've gotten 0% back.... 

wrednajasobaka
wrednajasobaka

@torbonator @gamespotstay1 Normally I'm not in favor of limiting people's right to express but these nutcases that turn every discussion into politics should have their accounts suspended. And they are everywhere too.