The most heavily funded game on Patreon was just cancelled.
Breeding Season was described as an "unholy combination of a farming sim and a sex game" about breeding people and anime-inspired fantasy humanoids. This niche elevator pitch convinced 10,796 backers to collectively pledge $42.3k a month to the project. According to stat-tracking site Pledge Society, that made it the most highly-funded video game currently on Patreon and the second most-funded project overall.
So what happened? It's all very unclear at the moment, but the two lead developers are accusing one another of rather shady misdeeds.
Developer Hartista "HBomb" Pipebomb (not their real name) wrote a lengthy post on the game's development blog accusing art director Vladimir "S-Purple" Sandler of taking the money and running. According to HBomb, Sandler was offered a contract allowing him half of the game's revenue once other business expenses and team members had been paid, along with the rights to retain his work should he leave the project mid-development. The idea was that should this happen, he could negotiate a new royalties agreement for the work already completed.
Well, Sandler left the project, but he didn't strike a new deal. Instead, he started a new Patreon for a very similar looking game called Cloud Meadow that featured artwork he'd developed for Breeding Season.
"S had gone entirely behind our backs to spend an entire month's worth of work (for which he collected over $9000 of patron money, by the way) working on a new project that he planned to abandon Breeding Season entirely for," HBomb claimed. "Not even once had he brought up to me the notion of him leaving the project or faced me directly with his desire for different leadership." The developer claimed that Sandler even fooled a colleague into creating art that he was then going to repurpose for Cloud Meadow.
"[He] straight-up swindled us," HBomb railed, noting that Sandler received more than $190k from his time working on Breeding Season.
"Because the wording of his contract let him do it, he also walked away with half the entire studio's savings, and then purely out of malice directed us to strip his assets from the game under threat of legal action," HBomb continued. "This leaves Breeding Season half stripped of assets. Effectively, this would scrap the entire project as it currently stands, forcing us to start over completely from square one. There is no way the project could actually survive the process, the game is just dead, that's the end."
HBomb further noted that "none of the other members want to continue on the project after this", leaving Breeding Season in utter shambles.
The jilted developer then offered a cryptic threat suggesting Patreon backers should try to break into their Dropbox account and leak every asset of the now dead game. "Wouldn't it be funny if they went around posting this to various places, like say 8chan and the LoK forums, etc?" HBomb said. "That would be illegal, since those assets belong to S-Purple, and therefore I would never condone someone actually doing that. But wouldn't it be funny?"
So that's one side of the story.
Sandler, for his part, has post a blog post of his own explaining that Breeding Season had been doomed for a long time and that jumping ship to start up Cloud Meadow was the closest thing he could do to honour the wishes of the Patreon backers.
"Cloud Meadow was not made to simply steal the profits of Breeding Season for myself, but to actually save what I could of the Breeding Season Project, and deliver on the spirit of the promises made by the project," Sandler said. "The way the actual Breeding Season game development was going, it would never have actually been finished, even if myself and the other artists worked 24/7. I had intended to not take the money owed to me for the month I worked on this from Breeding Season's accounts, and simply announce this at the same time as I announced my resignation so that people would see that while Breeding Season might finally be dead, they would still have a valid option for funding a game about banging monstergirls/boys and running a monster farm."
"Nothing I have done has opened me up to legal action in any way, shape, or form. Either from HBomb, or from former Patrons of Breeding Season."
Sandler said he's still penning a more detailed reply to all of the accusations leveled at him, though he stated that HBomb offered "an incomplete and misleading view of the situation" and that his former partner has been harassing him in wildly inappropriate ways.
"I'm shocked and dismayed by his efforts to dox me and in pirating my work since by the contract we both signed at the beginning of this, he couldn't have it to himself," Sandler said. "I never expected him to be happy about what was going down, but this is behaviour is unacceptable. By releasing my real life information, he's put my family in fear, and that's wrong both professionally and morally."
We've reached out to Sandler about this and will update as more comes of it.