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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Palladium Games has Lost the Robotech License - Robotech KS Backers PISSED! (no more Palladium Robotech RPG either)


You know the saying "adding insult to injury"? Well, after all of the drama and angry backers upset with the long delay in getting Robotech Tactics Wave 2 backers their shit (and Wave 1 backers complaining about the quality of the minis / models) Palladium has LOST its license to the Robotech IP. No more Robotech Tactics and no more Robotech RPG (at lest not from Kevin and company)

Did I mention the Robotech Tactics KS took in over $1.4 MILLION?

edit: following update offers Wave 2 backers a chance for Wave 1 products, but backers have to pay for the shipping. This is product that would have to be destroyed ANYWAY!

What follows is the update explaining thing's from Kevin's side. Feel free to read the various comments on the Robotech Tactics Kickstarter comments page.

Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Announcement from Kevin Siembieda, President of Palladium Books®
72 Comments

When the Robotech® RPG Tactics (RRT) Kickstarter funded in May 2013, we cheered, hugged and actually danced down the halls at the Palladium office. Not just because of the amount of money raised thanks to your pledges, but because it meant the realization of our dreams for Robotech®. For Palladium Books, it signified bringing Robotech fans – ourselves among them – something new and exciting to the beloved Robotech® universe.

So it is with sadness and tremendous heartbreak that I announce that, despite our best efforts, we are unable to produce the Robotech® RPG Tactics Wave Two rewards. Moreover, after proudly carrying the legacy of Robotech® in the role-playing games medium for 30 years, our license has expired and is not being renewed.

Palladium’s Business Manager, Scott Gibbons, intended to write this post, but I thought it should come from me. I have spent the better part of a week trying to find the words to explain what happened and express to you how sorry we are that it has come to this. In the end, we decided it best to keep it simple and share with you the broad strokes of how things unfolded without getting too deep into the weeds or violating any Non-Disclosure Agreements.

Pre-Kickstarter
When Palladium saw the opportunity to do Robotech® miniatures as game pieces, we knew the fans would love it. Even cooler, we wanted to create a whole new RPG with an emphasis on the miniatures, combat and tactics. Something different and exciting.

So, we decided to contract with another company with a good reputation and experience in all the areas where we lacked direct experience ourselves. We considered a few companies, and decided upon Ninja Division/Soda Pop Miniatures. We liked what they had to say, they were knowledgeable, enthusiastic and confident, had been working with Cool Mini or Not, Games Workshop and other top-flight companies, and had been involved in 8 or 9 successful Kickstarters. Plus, they had a hit game of their own, Super Dungeon Explore, as well as having been involved with the creation of other games. When we inquired about the company, industry people spoke very highly of them and the products they had worked on.

Ninja Division was brought on to do the heavy lifting: Build and run the Kickstarter, select the manufacturer/broker in China, choose the manufacturing process, choose the type of plastic, provide Palladium with the cost estimates, handle logistics and deal with all the ins and outs and many, many nuisances of manufacturing in China. Ninja Division was also to create the game and hire talented sculptors and artists to create the 3D sculpts, cards, design elements, packaging, and essentially create the game and the Kickstarter from the ground up, or as they liked to say in those early days, “handle 90% of everything.”

At Palladium Books, our primary role was using our extensive knowledge of the Robotech® I.P. to ensure the accuracy of the 3D sculpts, artwork, design elements, and overall look and feel of the game. Palladium provided Ninja Division’s sculptors and artists with all kinds of reference materials, artwork, model sheets, screen shots, and copious notes and communications to get it all just right. This was no small task, as there were many game pieces and most required a vast amount of our time and input to capture all the proper details we knew fans expected. We also handled the approval process with Harmony Gold.

Palladium eventually became more directly involved in the creative process in terms of developing the game rules. We brought in a long-time Palladium freelance writer, Robotech® uber-fan and game designer to assist. We approached it as if we were looking at Robotech® with fresh eyes, re-watched all of Robotech®: Macross, and set out to simulate the action, speed and power of the mecha as seen in the TV show. We used some of Ninja Division’s material as a starting point and built on it from there. Then we worked with them to help with the fine-tuning and number crunching. Ninja Division managed and oversaw the widespread play-testing, and the response from our scores of play-testers was overwhelmingly positive.

The Kickstarter was raw excitement. You know, you were part of it.

After the Kickstarter successfully funded, Palladium announced a Fall 2013 release and said that the game was 98% done, because in the minds of all of us here, it was 98% done. The rest was easy ... or so we thought. You take the 3D sculpts, do physical 3D prints, make the molds, run the plastic figures, dice and tokens, print the rule book, cards, and cartons, box it all up, shrinkwrap it, ship it to the USA, and we ship it to you and the stores. Easy, right? Wrong. But, because this is what we thought and because we were so anxious to bring the game to you and the gaming community, we advertised in print and online that the game would be a Fall 2013 release. In retrospect, we probably should have waited until RRT was on the boat heading to America; but we were excited, so we moved ahead.

Plastics and manufacturing
After delay after delay that we, like you, did not understand, we learned the problem stemmed from the fact that STL files, the 3D sculpts from the sculptors, were not compatible with the tooling process the manufacturer would be using.

The 3D sculpts we had all worked so hard on, and that Palladium had paid $35,000 for, and looked gorgeous, had to be completely recreated – from scratch – by the manufacturer. And Palladium and Ninja Division had to go through the creation, correction and approval process a second time for ALL of the Wave One and most of the Wave Two game pieces. A process that took MONTHS. Each delay compounding your frustration, and ours, as we would announce one revised release date – and miss it – after another.

Tooling is the engineering and making of the molds. The hard plastic used in Wave One was chosen to preserve the detail and crispness of the game pieces. Using that material requires expensive metal molds. Moreover, the plastic and the molds do not allow for undercuts, requiring the manufacturer to break the miniatures down into many, many pieces in order to manufacture them. Hence, the many parts required to build the miniatures.

The high cost of tooling/molds – $75,000 for what would become just the Wave One rewards – was unexpected. And that was in addition to the nearly $21,000 for the 3D file corrections and prototypes by the manufacturer.

Shipping. The next big cost increase came with the announcement that all freight carriers from UPS and FedEx to the United States Postal Service were implementing Dimensional Weight. In the recent past, a shipper paid by the pound to send a package. Then someone in the shipping industry came up with the idea that shippers of large but lightweight packages should pay by the size of the package, not just the weight. A formula based upon size (volume), not weight, was made standard so now you have to pay by “Dimensional Weight” after a certain point. And that point is not a very large package. Thus, you now pay by the actual weight or by “dimensional weight,” whichever is greater.

Dimensional Weight dramatically increased the anticipated shipping cost to backers. $131,843.74 for just Wave One. Another $9,016.80 for the boxes alone to ship your rewards in. And $76,401.20 to import Wave One from China into the USA.

Costs were soaring beyond the original cost projections. Ninja Division suggested splitting the Kickstarter rewards into two waves. We were reluctant at first, but ultimately came around to the idea.




The effort to make Wave Two
In theory, by making and releasing the Wave One products to the retail market, we could sell enough of them to produce Wave Two rewards. Even if Palladium saw little or no initial profit from it, we figured we would make up for it with later sales as the game line grew and found its place in the market. Not ideal, but it seemed like our best choice at the time.

But after the initial release of Wave One products, for a variety of reasons, including the high piece count to make each miniature and the delay of Wave Two which would have improved the gaming experience, sales stalled. And with sales stagnating, our ability to produce Wave Two stalled with it.

The Kickstarter money was gone with Wave One, but Palladium never gave up on Robotech® RPG Tactics. We explored every available option in order to secure more funding or bring in business partners and investors. We solicited multiple quotes and explored different manufacturing options and new production technologies for these potential partners. As you know, there was a period when we felt very confident Wave Two would see production and release. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we came up short. But we were so committed, even that did not stop us. We reached out to others. Even Harmony Gold and Palladium’s licensing agent tried to help us put deals together with third parties. We made a Herculean effort and did everything we could, right through this past Christmas and into the New Year, but without success.

The cost to produce Wave Two, estimated at $300,000-$400,000 for tooling and manufacturing, plus $65,000 to import to the USA, plus $120,000-$160,000 to ship rewards to the backers, was more than any potential investor was willing to risk.

Whenever anyone pledges support to a Kickstarter project, you never know if it will be successful or not. It is a gamble. This is true of any business venture. We are sincerely sorry this one fell short. We gave it our all, but that’s the rub about life and business, sometimes your all is not good enough. Sometimes you miss the mark despite your best efforts, good intentions, and the money you pour into it. I’m sorry that was the case with RRT.

What we can offer – Wave One Rewards for Wave Two
We know it is not what you expected, but we would like to offer you Wave One rewards in exchange for the unrealized Wave Two rewards – but you will have to pay for shipping. We estimate shipping to all 5,000+ backers around the world will cost $120,000-$160,000; and, at this point, Palladium Books just does not have the resources to cover that expense.

We will do our best to ship as inexpensively as possible, and we will only pass along our actual costs – with Palladium covering the cost of labor.

We will post the details about the reward exchange in the following update.

I would like to state that the people at Harmony Gold USA, Inc., have been wonderful partners to work with these many years. They went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to their assistance with trying to keep RRT alive. Our thanks to everyone involved.

My thanks and humble appreciation to everyone who supported Robotech® RPG Tactics. First and foremost, that includes you, our Kickstarter backers, followed by others who bought and loved RRT, everyone who had a direct hand in its creation, to play-testers, freelancers, Game Masters, and many, many others — far too many people to try to list. Literally, thousands of you. Thank you for sharing our dream. We tried our very best.

With Sincere Appreciation,
Kevin SiembiedaPresident, Palladium Books, Inc.

42 comments:

  1. So now Palladium has to root for Rifts Savage World to do well to keep from closing its doors. Unless there's some other property that will bring them revenue.

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  2. Exactly why I won't support any kickstarters that Palladium is involved with.

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  3. I was one of the Backers that is now getting screwed. On the one hand I want to make use of my Credit, on the other hand.. they can go to hell if they think I am paying their Shipping. I have about $200 in Credit coming to me and at a Glance I am guessing the shipping will be almost $100. So if I want ANYthing (and there is no promise I will even get what I put in for as others will be trying to get what little they can) I have to give Palladium MORE of my money? for something I and 5000+ others have already paid for? Fuck you Palladium Games. 1.4 Million Dollars of a $70,000 Goal and 5 years after your proposed Delivery Date ALL of that money is somehow gone? I hope to hell there is a Lawsuit of some sort that gets going so I can throw my hat in that arena.

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    1. But they made a "Herculean Effort" :)

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  4. New FB group for backers wanting to sue... :

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/510264239170789/

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    Replies
    1. Sue for what, though? When will people learn Kickstarters aren't preorders with another name?

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  5. Breaking out giant zentradi buckets of popcorn

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  6. Man, reading some of those comments, people over a grand, I don't feel as bad about the hundreds Artisan Dice screwed me out of. That sucks man.

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  7. Ooh, time to present my "Project Tarn" to Mr. Siembieda. No, that ould be as dumb a decision as Rifts 2nd edition, a unpopular handheld device version, or a Savage World's version. I love Palladium but talk about unable to keep up with the times.

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    Replies
    1. The Savage Worlds version of Rifts did pretty well, delivered rapidly and has a pretty rabid fanbase.

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    2. Yeah, how was Savage Rifts a bad idea in any way?

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    3. Savage Rifts was made by a totally different company. One strongly suspects they had a deal where Kevin got not one dime until he gave any approval he was entitled to.

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  8. I wasn’t a RRT backer, so I have no axe to grind. I am a huge supporter of Palladium Books and own most of their RPG Books. I love Rifts and Robotech and am sad to see them lose the license. I feel for both sides in this issue.

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  9. I’d need a bunch of free product as an incentive to read that long-ass press release.

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  10. Palladium Games should be changed to Palladium Books.

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  11. So...does this put Palladium in violation of Kickstarters Terms, too?

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    Replies
    1. It does not. People don’t read it. This post actually makes them compliant with the ToS

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    2. Actually, under the pre-October 2014 ToS - which this Kickstarter ran under - Palladium are in deep shit. "Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill."

      Even if you were right and the post-October 2014 ToS applied, that requires a detailed breakdown of how funds were spent if refunds are not provided. The vague handwaving of this update doesn't cut it.

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  12. Soda Pop Miniatures/Ninja Division is pretty terrible as well. They are years behind their own big game release and have been having issues on every kickstarter they have open now. But Palladium took their screw up, said "hold my beer" and made it much worse.

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  13. I backed it. Nobody is going to sue Palladium Books. Let people vent but no law suit is happening

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    Replies
    1. Agree. It's way too disorganized at this point.

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  14. It's probably not great for Palladium that their bog-standard response (at least to as far back as 2014, from multiple reports) for refunds has been: "As such, we cannot offer you a refund at this time. If the time should ever come that Palladium Books cannot fulfill the terms of our Kickstarter project, we will of course offer refunds, as we would be required to do by Kickstarter."

    Certainly looks to me like they are admitting to not being able to fulfill the terms of their KS project.

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    Replies
    1. Yes indeed.

      If I were a backer, I would be filing a suit in small claims court. You can do that in your own jurisdiction, and the defendant has to come to you (or hire a local attorney to represent him). If he doesn't show up, you win a default judgment (assuming you have a valid case in the first place). If enough backers do this, Palladium will either have to start paying refunds, or be forced into bankruptcy - which is what SHOULD happen when a business screws up this badly.

      Delete
  15. Two things that jump out at me about this:

    1: Harmony Gold not renewing the licence is a really bad look on Palladium.

    It actually looks even worse for them because they left the licence with Palladium for as long as they did, given a) Palladium's notorious business missteps prior to this and b) the fact that Palladium hadn't done anything enormously exciting with the Robotech licence for about 20 years prior to launching the RPG Tactics Kickstarter.

    All that would suggest that Harmony Gold was basically a bit of an absentee landlord as far as the licensing stuff goes - which in turn creates the impression that this was the straw that broke the camel's back. My hunch would be that Harmony Gold didn't mind Palladium's mismanagement so long as they got a passive trickle of royalties out of them, but got seriously annoyed by the ding to the brand's reputation and the waves of (justifiably) enraged Kickstarter backers. (I'd be willing to bet at least a few of the backers have raised the matter with Harmony Gold - it'd be a sensible course of action for anyone seeking to put pressure on Palladium over this.)

    2: How the shit does it take that long to suss out that your 3D printing files aren't compatible with your chosen factor's equipment, and why the hell wouldn't you just go find a factory which can handle the files once that became apparent?

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    1. I'm unclear, did Harmany Gold decline to renew the licence, did they pull the licence, or did Palladium Books decline to renew the licence as an excuse to not have to fulfil the KickStarter?

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    2. HG only has 3 years left to have Robotech tied to the original three shows they cut together to make Robotech

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    3. Harmony Gold is also about to loose the rights to Macross and the other 2 series in 2021, as well. Big West/Bandai finally won their IP suit against HG last year. And Big West is not going to ever license it back to them, as the have lost 30+ years of being able to legally use the IP outside Japan.

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    4. I guess if HG only has 3 years of license left, it's unlikely we'll see someone else pick up the rights for a Robotech RPG. I was hoping we could see someone else take a shot at it with a better system after it languished so long in Palladium's hands.

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  16. I wasn't a backer, but if someone sets up a GoFundMe campaign to sue this bastard, I will kick in at least a hundred bucks. Siembieda is a parasite on our hobby.

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  17. Am I crazy or wasn't this KS affiliated with the guy who had a suicide attempt after some bad press... Trying to keep these KS Trainwrecks strait is getting hard.

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    Replies
    1. It was a guy working on the Rifts board game, but it was over flak he was getting from RoboTech supporters. Siembieda then tried to milk his suicide attempt for sympathy in a really obnoxious RoboTech update.

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    2. Yeah, that guy tried to tell backers to not fuck with HIS Kickstarter, and it went from bad to ugly to shit demon in a post or two.

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  18. I am the admin of the FB page willing to sue PB. As of this moment all we have are rumours and hearsay as to what has happened to the funds. Any and all "official" answers are suspect considering their source.(No use trusting a guy that has consistently lied to the backers for years)
    I have seen Tenkar's request to join and have sent him a friend request in order to discuss the situation. Let me know if you're interested.

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    Replies
    1. I hope I accepted it - if not, send it again and thanks

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    2. You guys aren’t going to sue anybody and when you meet with a competent attorney they will tell you such.

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    3. I've already told them that. They could but they need to meet with an actual lawyer and get there ducks in a row. First thing is to stop gnashing teeth... Come up with a plan and then have the lawyer give them a price.

      I wish them luck. But I seriously doubt it go any further.

      Delete
    4. I think you blocked me because I cannot resend a friend request. Just look at my profile pic. It has a lion's head on it. Send me a request instead and we can talk.

      Delete
  19. Oh, shit - who needs lawyers when you can sic the CC company on them?

    From DakkaDakka (https://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/11070/651554.page#9858021)

    "I am on with Discover right now and they will dispute the charges and attempt chargebacks.

    "They need evidence, does anyone have a screenshot or know where it was that Palladium said they would give Refunds if they could not fulfill Wave 2?

    "UPDATE: Discover has reversed the charges, credited my account, and are going after Palladium, Backerkit, and Kickstarter, based on what I told them. I am to provide documentation and screenshots in sufficient quantities and information to prove that Palladium initially complied with the TOU had offered refunds and then reversed their position in violation of the KS TOU.
    "Additionally, the Backerkit charge for add-ons is the easiest one to determine, as the charge is for products that were never received.
    "The initial Kickstarter/Palladium charge would require them to determine that Palladium/Siembieda had stated that refunds would be offered in support of the KS TOU, and then stated the reversal of position in violation of KS TOU.

    "I am asking if Discover wants all Discover card users who were affected, to contact them. I have been escalated to some sort of really high up fraud dept. I'll post again when I find out"

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    Replies
    1. Interesting. I might try this with my bank. Might get something out of this. Thank you for the info.

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  20. Two other backers I know personally have already contacted their CC companies and are getting similar cooperative responses so it seems like Palladium is going to be giving some refunds whether they want to or not.

    (Sadly I won't be one of them as I changed banks and no longer have the account I charged mine too.)

    ReplyDelete

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