Survivor: Erik Reichenbach’s Islands of Chaos Kickstarter game is canceled

Erik Reichenbach
Erik Reichenbach /

After raising close to $10,000 on Kickstarter to create mobile Survivor-like game Islands of Chaos five years ago, Erik Reichenbach has canceled development.

As the editor in chief for FanSided’s video game website, App Trigger, I’ve seen quite a grand number of Kickstarter video game projects. Most projects released are made from experienced developers with decades of experience shipping finished video game titles, and even then sometimes they fail to get made on time. Hearing about Survivor player Erik Reichenbach’s latest Islands of Chaos development update, to me, was no surprise.

For those who are unaware, on December 9, 2013, Erik Reichenbach launched a crowdfunding campaign asking for $8,000 to make a mobile game called Islands of Chaos. Artist Erik and programmer Billy Laurain were pitching to create an iOS-based social strategy game akin to the CBS-based reality show, where players compete in teams (then, later, individually) in mini-games then can traverse around an island to find survival items, discuss strategy and vote players off.

Despite raising close to $10,000 five years ago, with rare annual development updates, incomplete progress builds and constant denials the game wasn’t being left behind, the Islands of Chaos Kickstarter has updated its backers to reveal that the game is, in fact, canceled. (h/t /u/flyingboat)

Three backers who contributed $1,200 each to become part of the strategy team, one backer who provided $1,000 and one person who spent $500 five years ago have, essentially, fully lost their monetary input into the project, in addition to those who gave $100 or less.

Erik offers a number of reasons why the Islands of Chaos project failed. Chief among them is the fact that thanks to him admitting to having “no game development experience, had not worked on any large collaborative development projects, and did not accurately understand the ins and outs of business”; he vastly underestimated how much it would cost to make the game.

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  • The $5,000 that went to Billy (who has work experience developing for big publishers like EA) evaporated after him and Erik had a falling out a year in and, instead of paying mobile engineers to create a product that would make money on the App Store, he asked developers to work for equity share of the finished product but, at the time, for free. At the time, Erik received quotes from web development agencies telling them the game they wanted would need between 8-13 times their original Kickstarter funding they asked for; between $60,000-$100,000+.

    Why am I endlessly going into detail about a Survivor player’s failed attempt at making a video game? It’s because it was on the backs of Survivor fans who believed in Erik because they liked watching him on TV. Nobody in their right mind should be giving an excellent artist who’s remarkably talented at creating wonderful portraits and comics $1,000+ to make a video game considering his incredible lack of business and games development knowledge. They did because they liked him.

    With the exception of the legendsSurvivor fame is a fleeting game and those acute at business savviness are willing to exploit their fans to make an extra buck or two. Look no further than Alec Merlino who, days after the finale, was charging fans $50 plus shipping for autographs; a ridiculous fee considering he didn’t even respect the rules and broke his NDA before David vs. Goliath started.

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    I don’t believe Erik Reichenbach was malicious when asking his fans to give him more than $8,000 to make an online multiplayer mobile game with day-night cycles, multiple-day gameplay modes, elaborate netcode, and matchmaking requirements in a year. I do believe that when you have backers pleading to others to “believe in magic and adventure” as a reason why Islands of Chaos was funded, something has gone terribly wrong from the start.