There was an interesting admission from a leading game developer this week. Eric Tereshinski, main developer of Ant Simulator, announced the cancellation of the game and his resignation after the spending of the available money for development. The reason? Tereshinski said that his business partners spent the money on booze and strippers. His partners in ETeeshi were Tyler Monce and Devon Staley.
Ant Simulator was meant to allow players to manage an ant colony. The developers turned to crowdfunding campaigns to raise the money. It is not clear if crowdfunding contributors would have standing to seek reimbursement or charges of fraud. One clear defense is that there is no guarantee that people who post projects on Kickstarter will deliver on their projects, use the money to implement their projects, or that the completed projects will meet backers’ expectations. However, that can change if there are express promises made to donors.
What is also fascinating is the possible defamation action based on the announcement below:
The announcement expressly states that the partners had stolen funds:
I recently found out that my ex-business partners were secretly stealing company money. They had secretly spent the overwhelming majority of both our Kickstarter money and the Ant Simulator investment money on liquor, restaurants, bars, and even strippers. This, among many other reasons, is the reason why it has become exceedingly clear to me that I cannot have my career associated with these guys. My ex-business partners directly said to me, ‘If you release Ant Simulator without us, I will sue you.’ I really don’t have any options.
A year and a half ago, I signed an LLC agreement with them. I trusted them. And they had been my friends for 11 years. I made the mistake of trusting them. So that means that resigning and therefore canceling the development of Ant Simulator, since I was the programmer of Ant Simulator, resigning and canceling Ant Simulator is really the only option available to me right now. So this is obviously a huge and disappointing setback, but I am going to continue forward and continue to develop games
The announcement alleges that the money was used for unapproved purposes like “liquor, restaurants, bars, and even strippers.” That could be alleged as raised categories of defamation per se. Of course, Tereshinski would always argued that truth is a defense but it would be a messy lawsuit. While the Kickstarter campaign raised only roughly $4,000, it is still an allegation of improper and even potentially criminal conduct.
The best defense may be that such alleged spending is foreseeable in an ant simulator. After all, they could be modeling their conduct based on winged Alate males or drones, who service queens in the hierarchy of the colony.