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.