Chris Taylor, CEO of Redmond-based Gas Powered Games, starts this video on Kickstarter off like this:
“This is the wackiest video update you’ll ever see,” he says.
He’s not lying. An emotional Taylor nearly comes to tears as he explains this extremely odd story.
Here’s what’s going on. Less than a week after launching a Kickstarter campaign for a new game called Wildman, Taylor laid off his entire company — about 40 employees — with the exception of himself and a few others.
It had been four days and the Kickstarter earned around $173,000, a far cry from the $1.1 million goal set for Feb. 15.
He told Gamasutra that the company had to “slim WAY down to conserve cash reserves” and mentioned to Joystiq that he had to make the decision to “properly pay severance and remaining [paid-time off].”
“If I ran this team through the entire Kickstarter campaign and it fails to fund, then I have to let everyone go, shut the company down, no one gets any unpaid PTO or severance, or anything,” Taylor said in the video. “And that I decided was not worth it.
“It’s one thing for me to risk and gamble this company that frankly is something that I’ve been building for 15 years, and I feel comfortable with that because I’ve done it i the past many times,” a visibly emotional Taylor continued. “But this time is different. I really felt like it was a crazy idea to gamble in this economy and gamble with the people here who are the most talented and loyal people. To play a card game with their livelihoods is not smart. So I made a very, very tough decision.
“But I have another tough decision,” he says. “Now that the team has been laid off, should I continue the campaign to see if the numbers do improve and hire them back if they still want to come back? Or do I shut the campaign down tonight or tomorrow and call it done?”
Taylor then asks fans and supporters to help him make the decicion in the comments of the Kickstarter update. It certainly seems like the campaign is marching on, as funding was nearly at $300,000 Tuesday morning.
Taylor, who created the popular real-time strategy game Total Annihilation, just posted another video update Monday, saying that he went through lots of emotions over the weekend and realized that “we did what we thought was right.” He then says he’ll show more details about Wildman in the coming days, talks about more Kickstarter tiers and then asks people to share this story over social media channels.
Taylor previously said he was going “all-in” and betting the company on the success of this one game. Now that the funding is not going as planned, he’s had to let go of almost every employee. But now it seems he’s using this backstory as a way to try to raise more money on Kickstarter.
Do you think Taylor is being sincere here, or was this a risk that should never have been taken?
Reach staff reporter Taylor Soper at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Taylor_Soper