Trust and Doing the Right Thing (regarding Early Founder Pledge Gifts/Transfers)

Discussion in 'Community Announcement Archive' started by dallas, Feb 3, 2014.

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  1. dallas

    dallas COO/Co-Founder, Portalarium

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    I truly regret that events have transpired in such a way to trigger the feelings of confusion, disappointment, disillusionment, betrayal, and broken promises that many of you have expressed in recent forum posts. There is no doubt that each of you, based on your own understanding of dev team communications (whether those communications were in the form of project updates, dev chats, or forum threads) are fully justified in feeling the way you do. Your perceptions, and interpretations are the truth as you understand it. I agree with HoustonDragon who posted that the biggest issue at stake is trust. Trust is the foundation upon which sustainable relationships depends. Principles such as trust are at the very core of Portalarium's existence. When we started Portalarium we drafted a set of principles designed to guide our actions. You can find this list of principles on our Company Culture web page. Trustworthiness, honesty, and integrity are just a few of those principles we endeavor to live by every moment of every day, to the best of our ability to do so.

    Those of you that believe we have broken some of our original promises have every right to feel mistrustful. I would feel exactly the same way if I were you. But please understand that regarding the issue of Founders being able to purchase additional Founder pledges for one full year at original Founder prices and with full Founder rewards, to keep for themselves or to give away as they please is indeed something that we promised. I know, because I'm the one that wrote it.

    We offered this because of our profound gratitude to the 22k+ backers that rallied to our team and our project and through their efforts and generosity allowed the Shroud of the Avatar project to happen! We wanted our original backers to have every benefit we could provide them for what they had helped us accomplish, and it seemed that allowing them the privilege to continue purchasing and upgrading the original tiers at the original prices was a very powerful way to express our appreciation.

    I thought this was clearly communicated in Update #25, dated April 9, 2013, when I stated:

    "We are currently designing the new tiers for brand new backers, and should have those available by end-of-day Sunday, April 14th, at the conclusion of our current one-week grace period. It is our intention for all Kickstarter backers to be able to purchase/upgrade to both the previous tiers (pending availability of limited tiers), and the new tiers, whereas new backers after April 14th will only have access to the new tiers."

    When I wrote "purchase/upgrade" the word "purchase" was referring to buying additional pledges, and the word "upgrade" was referring to existing pledges. Since a tier is defined by the rewards it contains, when I wrote "both the previous tiers...and the new tiers" the previous tiers was referring to rewards listed in the tier descriptions prior to the end of the Grace Period, and "new tiers" was referring to rewards listed in the tier descriptions after the Grace Period. This means that all backers up to May 20, 2013 would be able to purchase additional pledges that contain all the original rewards and the new rewards, as well as upgrade any of their pledges to tiers that contain all the original rewards and the new rewards, thru April 7, 2014.

    I repeated this again in Update #27, April 16, 2013:

    "We expect to have the new tiers ready to go early next week, so we are extending the grace period until then. Once that integration is complete, all Kickstarter backers will be able to purchase/upgrade to both the previous tiers (pending availability of limited tiers), and the new tiers, whereas new backers after the grace period ends will only have access to the new tiers."

    Also, during our Kickstarter campaign we received requests from some backers to be able to purchase additional pledges for their friends or family. We advised them there were 3 ways they could accomplish this:
    1. Create additional Kickstarter accounts and purchase one pledge per account
    2. Increase the size of their pledge to cover cost of multiple pledges and put in a customer service ticket after the campaign to have us divide and transfer their pledge to multiple accounts
    3. Go to the SotA website once it launched on March 23, 2013 and make multiple pledges there, which we would then give them the ability to transfer any of their pledges to any account they chose, either through contacting CS or through an eventual UI on the website itself
    The SotA website, since it launched on March 23, 2013, has always allowed backers to create as many pledges per account as they wished, with the intention of being able to transfer their additional pledges to anyone they chose, with all the original rewards intact. This feature may not have been specifically written about in an official project update, but it has certainly been communicated to all members of our community who requested this ability.

    The ability to transfer one of your pledges to another account with an automated UI on the website kept getting back-burnered because of higher priorities. When the holiday season was approaching last year, we decided to implement the "Gift" feature to make it easier for those people that were asking us to implement a feature so they could transfer additional accounts to friends and family. Allowing transfers via "Gifting" seemed appropriate for the holiday gift-buying season. We announced the Gifting system in Update #49, on November 22, 2013, with the message "Gifts can be sent to existing backers or to someone that wishes they were a backer".

    In Update #56, January 17, 2014, we started reminding our backers there were only 80 days remaining until the end of the 1 year Early Founder Pledge availability. We started receiving customer service tickets from Early Founders that said the price of additional pledges was listed at the higher Benefactor prices, although the tier text description did include all the original Early Founder rewards. We looked into it, and sure enough, even though you already had an Early Founder pledge, the cost of additional pledges being added to your own account or sent as a gift were at Benefactor prices (which was a bug) whereas the reward descriptions included the original Early Founder rewards (as we originally promised). We pushed out a fix for this bug last week, which is what started the recent controversy.

    To all the backers that asked to buy multiple pledges during the KS campaign (and during the ensuing 1-year promotion period) with the intention of distributing them to friends or family, we never imposed a time limit on when they had to transfer those additional Early Founder pledges. We were okay if they waited until the day we launched the game and we'd still allow them to transfer their additional Early Founder pledges to anyone they chose. We assumed they would be sending those Early Founder pledges to friends or family that had never pledged, thus allowing their friend or family member to be an Early Founder as well, with all the Early Founder benefits (which included purchasing/upgrading at Early Founder prices and rewards).

    We didn't foresee that Early Founders would transfer or gift their additional Founder pledges to existing Benefactors, thus giving the Benefactors access to a Founder pledge (which automatically grants them Founder benefits). This is a recent emergent behavior. When we learned of it, we acted quickly to attempt to keep it from becoming the equivalent of the gold farming black market, while also honoring what we thought we clearly communicated as an Early Founder's right to purchase additional Early Founder pledges at Early Founder prices and rewards to transfer/gift to anyone they chose, thus granting the recipient Early Founder benefits as well.

    I, and the entire Portalarium team, cannot apologize enough for the distress these misunderstandings of our communications have caused. We will continue to make every effort to honor our promises as we believe we described them, while working together with all of you to achieve the purpose for which we founded Portalarium: "To provide fun games and virtual worlds that foster community, good will, learning, and people playing together."

    Dallas Snell
    COO/Co-Founder, Portalarium
  2. skinned

    skinned Avatar

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    Thanks for taking the time to write that Dallas; I think it goes a long way.
  3. High Baron O`Sullivan

    High Baron O`Sullivan Avatar

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  4. Mitch [MGT]

    Mitch [MGT] Avatar

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    Thanks for clearing that up Dallas!
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  5. Bohica

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    Thanks!
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  6. Duke Violation

    Duke Violation Legend of the Hearth

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  7. Umbrae

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    Thanks Dallas! This is how I saw it from the beginning. I hope everyone can accept the apology and move on to being excited for this game to launch!
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  8. Arradin

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    Quite nice post, however...

    You say that you acted to prevent it from becoming gold farming thing, but thats exactly what it is... People are making money upgrading benefactors, and its even encouraged here, Which greatly confuses me.
    You shouldnt get rewarded for buying pledges, and thos wouldnt be such a big problem as many make it out to be..
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  9. Bohica

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    he is referring to people selling founder pledges for over the actual tier price. And that has not happen.
  10. Arradin

    Arradin Avatar

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    I´m sorry , What? yes it has, plenty. Atleast i can assume so, by doing a simple Google on the subject. ( not everything happen on these forums, you know ;) )

    People should be able to gift, but they shouldnt get $25 for it. Simple!
    But the more money we can get, the better this game will be. All good in the hood !
  11. skinned

    skinned Avatar

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    Indeed, Darkstarr also stated the same position:
    And further clarified:
  12. Bohica

    Bohica Avatar

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    I hope that isn't the case. But if it has happened to you and you are reading this, plz report it!
  13. Arradin

    Arradin Avatar

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    Oh, i didnt mean abuse. I ment making money, which you do when you gift pledges, even if its $1 per pledge.

    How can making money on someone elses expense NOT count as abuse though, i wont understand.
    The system was intended to distribute the game to friends and family, not to make money on.
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  14. Brenton

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    *Raises his tankard*

    *Smashes it on Umbrae's head*

    What? This is how a cheer is done where I'm from...
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  15. dallas

    dallas COO/Co-Founder, Portalarium

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    "Gold farmers" exchange their in-game gold for cash that is removed from, or external to, the game and the community, thus hurting the game and the economy. When a Founder receives a referral bonus that increases their in-game pledge amount, that value is staying within the game and within the community, and could even incentivize them to put more cash into the development of the game if they haven't yet reached the pledge tier they want to be at.

    What we don't agree with, is if a Founder charges more cash for a pledge transfer/gift than they paid for it, thus removing that extra cash from the community and ultimately the game development. Please provide any information you may have about anyone that is doing this to support@portalarium.com.
  16. Bohica

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    I have gifted some pledges... I haven't made 1 cent. I guess you mean the $25 referral bonus, but that has not been gained at someone else's expense. Should you get a $25 referal bonus for refering freinds and family? Well yes of course you should. Should I get a referral bonus (virtual money mind you) for raising another $40 for the game? I would say yes to that too. It is a win/win no matter how you look at it. There would be a whole lot lees $40 payments if the virtual $25 reward was not attached.
  17. Arradin

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    Hm, i can admit when im wrong, and i have to agree that i am just that :)
  18. Bohica

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    I am guilty of this..... Dirty dirty trick ;)
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  19. Favonius Cornelius

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    Well I for one agree with the concept that making money off a game ultimately can have corrupting influences. I know its not your intent, but reading your statement has the devil on one shoulder whispering in my ear: "when he says 'keeping the cash in the community' he means Portalarium's pockets!" Rest assured the angel on my other shoulder I favor who tells me that this is for the better good.

    Double edged sword this fund raising scheme isn't it? Asking for so much money based on promises for the future. Hard to know when to stop, when that new sword or plot of land was going a little too far?

    It might help to hear some facts about why any more fund raising is even needed, and where it is currently being spent. If this is a crowd sourced effort than let the crowd help manage a bit too. It might also help to stop asking for more until we see more of the game than just a husk.
  20. Mishri

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    Even without the $25 referral bonus I would have helped benefactors become founders. (provided they pay the full cost) I don't feel it hurts me to help someone get additional items and it reduces their costs for upgrades. I see it has helping others. I probably wouldn't advertise the service, I'd probably just find people mentioning they were benefactors and offering to upgrade them.
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