Will GCW Zero Deliver Their Kickstarter Handhelds?

This story (podcast link) is interesting. That was an interview with Justin Barwick, the owner and founder of the GCW Zero. Here’s a link to the discussion on Kickstarter. Notice that GCW Kickstarter backers are starting to get hostile, due to the delays and excuses with delivery. Kickstarter does not guarantee any of the transactions. If someone raises money on Kickstarter and defaults on his promise, then the backers lose their money with no recourse.

I already wrote about the GCW Zero. The GCW Zero is a new open-source gaming handheld. It runs old games played in emulators, plus ports of other open source games. It’s a legal grey area, running old computer games in emulators. The copyright is usually still owned by someone, but lots of people are using emulators and file sharing networks to get the games. It’s technically illegal to share old computer games, but someone could argue that the copyright was abandonend because it hasn’t been enforced for so long.

I currently use emulators on my Android phone, a Droid 3. They work pretty well, but not perfectly. With Android emulation, the quality is lousy due to the fact that all code runs in a Java virtual machine, and due to other quirks in the way Android handles sound and input and timing. Allegedly, the GCW Zero has much higher emulation quality. A PSX and N64 emulator is in development for the GCW Zero, and older systems work very well.

Justin Barwick made a few prototype GCW Zero units, and then successfully raised money via Kickstarter. The people who funded via Kickstarter were promised a GCW unit. Now, there may be delays in the delivery of the GCW Zero.

Allegedly, some people preordered before the Kickstarter campaign, and still haven’t received their GCW Zero. That is somewhat sleazy, taking money from people for preorders, and then raising more money before delivering those preorders. That sounds a lot like a Ponzi, where you raise more money so you can pay off your obligations to earlier investors.

This story is really weird. Atari corporation is currently in bankruptcy, and the founder of the GCW Zero was trying to raise money to buy the rights to the Atari IP from bankruptcy court. That is stupid. As one poster accurately and cynically said “The GCW Zero team should deliver on their Kickstarter promise, before trying to raise money for something else.”  Suppose he really did raise $250k to buy out Atari and that was the current asking price. Even if they did that, some other bidder would come along, see it’s worth $250k, and bid more. It probably was just a cheap publicity stunt, and that Fundable campaign was terminated.  On the other hand, it could be a bad sign if Justin Barwick was desperate enough and foolish enough to try it. (The flaky “buy Atari” idea was on Fundable and not Kickstarter, a point that confused some people.)

For the Open Pandora, some people who pre-ordered a unit years ago STILL haven’t gotten their Pandora. The Open Pandora had two founders, Evil Dragon (in Germany) and Craig (in the USA). Both of them took money for pre-orders, operating as two separate corporations. People who lived in the USA were told to pre-order from Craig.  I’m glad I didn’t buy!  Craig declared his corporation bankrupt, defaulting on his pre-orders. Evil Dragon is still making and selling Open Pandora, and is allegedly using some of the profits to pay off old pre-orders. As a further bit of sleaziness, Craig hasn’t told Evil Dragon exactly how many and who is owed a preorder, leading to lots of suspicion and accusations of fraud.  That is a very sleazy trick, to form a new corporation with the IP, while declaring bankruptcy and defaulting on the old pre-orders.

The Open Pandora has specs that are already several years outdated. It’s silly to pay such a high price for a handheld that is significantly weaker than current Android phones.

One reason that the Open Pandora had problems is that they mis-estimated costs and were cheated by a supplier. According to that podcast, the GCW Zero may be having similar problems.

I am interested in gaming handhelds better than my current Android phone. It’s a shame that the Open Pandora was such a funding disaster. The GCW Zero may wind up similarly disappointing users. Allegedly, there are enhancements in newer Android versions, and newer emulators fix the defects in older emulators.

Whatever negative things you can say about Android, at least I know that if I buy one from Verizon, they’re going to actually deliver it!

It’s a shame that the Open Pandora cheated early backers, and the GCW Zero may also turn out to be a ripoff. Unfortunately, the lesson seems to be “Don’t back handhelds made by individuals and non-insiders.”, which makes it impossible for these handhelds to be developed if nobody backs them. Craig from Open Pandora seemed like a sleazy character, and the GCW Zero founder Justin Barwick sounded somewhat sleazy in that interview.

I wonder if being the leader of a failed project causes someone to start talking like a con artist, making delays and excuses like the Ponzi scammers on American Greed? The “buy Atari” campaign seemed pretty stupid and sleazy; it smelled like someone desperate. It also was sleazy for Justin Barwick to raise money via Kickstarter while he hadn’t delivered to earlier preorders. That’s a classic Ponzi trick, trying to raise more money from new suckers to pay off earlier investors.

Is the GCW Zero a legitimate business that will keep its promises? Is it going to be a fiasco like the Open Pandora? We’ll find out in a few months. I might buy one, IF the preorders and Kickstarter orders are delivered and I can buy one from stock. Allegedly, ithic will be the place to buy the GCW Zero in the USA, if the Kickstarter units are ever delivered.

20 Responses to Will GCW Zero Deliver Their Kickstarter Handhelds?

  1. Anonymous Coward March 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Doesn’t Oracle own the copyright of Java now?

    What did the Google clowns do for Java on Android? Did they port the Java Virtual Machine i.e. take existing runtimes and libraries and just change the necessary bits to run on a new architecture or did they do a clean-room implementation from the ground up?

    I think this went to court and the Google clowns may have prevailed.

    Did the jury actually understand the technicals of the case?

    • Yes, there was a lawsuit between Google and Oracle regarding Java. Google won. However, it was a mistake to base Android on Java.

      Unfortunately, judges and clueless jurors don’t understand what a header file or short function is.

  2. Anonymous Coward March 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Well Java provides by baby clowns at Google something to do. Good grief, you don’t expect them to do any real programming as they can live off their stable Adwords income!

    The stable Adwords income means the baby Google clowns can buy in all the difficult software. Google didn’t write Android themselves. They purchased the company that produced Android from Linux.

    The real men that can program in C and C++ are getting rarer on the ground.

  3. Anonymous Coward March 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Google has too much of a monopoly on web searches.

    I have seen accusations on the Internet that the Google baby clowns downgrade websites and then can make more money on Google Adwords. This may just be coincidences and may be untrue. Nobody knows what goes on in Google ClownLand.

    When I had my regular Google search ranking, I made 3x dollars in income a month.

    When the Google clowns knocked my website off the first page after 5 years near the top, my income went down to x dollars a month.

    Now things have stablized I am making 2x dollars a month.

    But Google seems to be constantly changing their ranking system. Despite being 5 years near the top of my niche and with originally ground breaking software in my niche, my web ranking now varies from week to week.

    On bing.com things are more stable and software companies do actually show up on the first page.

    I have first page ranking on bing.com, but now am on the borders of the 1st and 2nd page on Google, despite there only being 4 main players in my software niche.

    People have got to start using other search engines. Monopolies are very bad. Even if you are just a consumer, advertising will put the price up of anything you buy on the Internet.

    As it is Google charges 2x – 3x more per click than download websites or bing.com

  4. Anonymous Coward March 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Although it is getting off-topic now, FSK you may be interested in what Reggie Middleton says about Google’s strategy in his interviews with Max Keiser.

    Essentially Reggie says Google gives Android away to free to phone manufacturers and it is an example of cost shifting.

    In his second interview, Reggie talks about Google subsidizing hardware.

    By the way Reggie correctly called it on Apple well beforehand.



  5. Anonymous Coward March 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    When Reggie Middleton talks about Google’s cost shifting strategy is all seems very clever.

    But you don’t get money out of thin air.

    Google’s cost shifting strategy is based on shafting advertisers.

    I advertise on Google Adwords and their Cost Per Click is SILLY. It is simply not cost effective in my niche. Google is getting ridiculously greedy. Google will suck money from Adwords advertisers until the whole thing breaks.

    If the silly Google baby clowns actually charged a sensible cost per click, then I could actually put more money their way.

  6. Anonymous Coward March 30, 2013 at 9:04 am

    > With Android emulation, the quality is lousy due to the fact that all code runs in
    > a
    > Java virtual machine,

    FSK weeps over the shortcomings of his/her Android phone, yet Android is given away free to phone manufacturers.

    Where does FSK thinks the money comes from to pay for his/her free goodies?

    I strongly suggest you read the following web page about the Google baby clowns and their bag of tricks via their clown friends at Infospace.


    The Google clowns aren’t nice clowns at all. See


  7. I backed the GCW Zero Kickstarter. They’ve been putting out frequent updates and I’m happy to say that all evidence shows they’re following through. They are in the process of shipping the Special Edition versions and will begin shipping the Kickstarter reward ones in about four days. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will finally have it in my hands.

  8. While it is true that some openpandora preorder are still not received (myself included) it’s not true that Craig’s company declared bankruptcy. Most openpandoras have been delivered now and, having kept a close eye on the whole story, a lot of the shit that happened truly wasn’t their fault. It’s also not fair to Evildragon who has been working like crazy to fix shit to be labeled as a cheat, which he isn’t. m2c

  9. As you can see almost all SE models have shipped minus those that have not confirmed there current address with me.

    Also KickStarter models have started to ship also. The KickStarter Campaign was started only after I had left messages in the forums with the community about the fact after 150 SE there would be no funds to do another production run.

    So with their blessing and understanding the KickStarter campaign was started.

  10. Its only natural that its slow. First they need to get there. Then they need to be flashed on the spot. then they need to be packed and shipped. the last of which is only done by 3 people. Shit takes a while on a small budget. But people are actually getting what they want in the end.

  11. Lately, the GCW Zero KS turned out to be a SCAM, at least for european backers, since no update was made for more than one month and there are still a lot of Zero to be sent.
    So the answer to your question is GCW will not deliver their kickstarter handheld. Period.

    Or prove me wrong.

    • Really? I thought they got their act together and were finally shipping them? Do you have a link/source?

      I’m really interested in things like iControlpad, Pandora, GCW Zero. I’m never going to fund any of them through pre-orders or Kickstarter. There’s too much risk. I’m only ordering from stock, if I ever do.

  12. Just take a look at latest KS comments.

    I’m still hoping to be proven wrong but lately things seems to turn out pretty bad.
    No updates. No replies to email from the available contacts. No way to get faulty devices fixed. The last sign of life from Justin Barwick is the GCW Zero facebook profile.
    Maybe shipments are still on the way but why on earth that lack of communication ?
    I totally agree with you that ordering from stock is the way to go. I was even able to get a refurbished pandora since the success of GCW Zero KS campaign.
    I paid less for it than for the Zero I’m still waiting for.

    • I’m sticking with my Android phone as my sole handheld, for now. I’d like to see a viable competitor to Android/iPhone, especially one with a nice physical keyboard. It’s going to be awhile still before that happens.

      My Samsung Galaxy S4 has no physical keyboard. The physical keyboard was a nice feature that I miss from my Droid 3. The touchscreen typing isn’t the same. I might have bought an iControlPad2 from stock, if that didn’t turn out to also be a scam.


      It does seem shady that stores like iThic have the ability to “order from stock” but the KS backers didn’t get their units yet. The advantage of cheating preoders is that units sold on iThic generate $160 new revenue, but fulfilling preorders is just a waste of money. That’s very shady. I don’t see how any store can be selling GCW Zeros before all the Kickstarter units shipped.

  13. where do I start, I too ordered an SE, a KS and 100 units before KS started to resell here in Australia for here and the NZ market, not all has gone according to plan for me as many of you may be very well aware, after much jumping up and down I finally got half of my 100 units to resell, though I too would love to finally see my KS+SE units with T’shirts etc.. then I could wear them and people could ask me about the GCW Zero, I am still waiting on 48 units and 2 bonus pledge package things, I have lost many customers due to the time frame and of course the fact that later orders than me (ThinkGeek in particular) sold units to my customers though I was meant to have exclusive rights to the Australian, NZ market… so yes I’m pretty pissed off, if any Aussie’s are after any please let me know..

    • Yes, there are two ways you lose from the delay, if you were planning to resell GCW Zeros as a business.

      Loss #1 – Customers can buy their GCW Zero somewhere else. The GCW Zero team is selling units before shipping to you, undercutting your sales and stealing potential customers.

      Loss #2 – Moore’s Law – If the GCW Zero hardware was cool and current when it was designed, by now it’s almost obsolete. A 2 year delay means the hardware is half as good compared to newer stuff. The longer the delay, the more attractive it is to stick with your Android phone or one of the newer Android handhelds with current hardware. For example, the current Open Pandora specs are very lame compared to what you can get from an Android device.

      A fool and his money are soon parted. You got played.

      My takeaway is “Don’t back hardware projects on Kickstarter or via pre-orders. Wait until you can order from stock.” There is some cool stuff that potentially could be funded, but it seems that scammers are dominating the preorder market. This is 3 scams I know about now, Pandora (not Kickstarter, but direct preorders got cheated), iControlPad2, and GCW Zero.


      This looks promising, a GPD G5A.


      Another amusing link for GCW Zero. They’re trying to raise money on fundable now.

  14. So things started to move again lately. Shipping resumed and I got a tracking number so I may see the GCW Zero quite soon. I hope I will like it anyway.
    I’m still using a Xperia Mini Pro as my main phone. It’s a great little device with a physical keyboard. The CPU is the same as in the Xperia Play so it’s quite capable but it’s only single core. It’s quite enough for a bit of GBA on the go (games like advance wars play well with a physical keyboard).

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