Well, it’s been a busy news cycle in the typically quiet EVN community. Let’s run down what has gone on in the past twenty-four hours.
On Tuesday, the EVM Pro YouTube channel released a video documenting Winged Cloud’s questionable business history, as well as accusations of malpractice and abusive management. Among the events covered in the video was the incident with The Guardian’s Spell Kickstarter in 2014. To recap, Winged Cloud launched a Kickstarter campaign for a commercial otome game to capitalize off the success of their first title, Pyrite Heart. However, WC released another their more infamous title Sakura Spirit: dramatically altering the course of history.
Winged Cloud’s presumed leader, Nick Fahr, would redirect their group’s efforts after the fact. However, what was left in the dust was The Guardian’s Spell Kickstarter which had raised over $5,000 (at the time) specifically to produce. In November of 2014, with no update on The Guardian’s Spell and Sakura Angels warming up in the bull pen, questions started being asked to Sekai Project (Winged Cloud’s publisher at the time) on what was going on due largely to WC’s reclusive reputation. I was provided with a statement on the issue and you can read it here, but the key portion I will paste below:
It is absolutely true that Winged Cloud did intend to voice the game. The price of voice acting was calculated within the budget of the Kickstarter after getting quotes from the representatives of the voice actors named on Kickstarter. However as the Guardian Spell Kickstarter got more successful, the voice actor representatives also wanted a larger share of the money, which did not fit in the budget anymore. Winged Cloud did not assume that they would change their quote after naming it once, which was making it impossible for them to afford the new price of the voice acting. That is what caused the problems with the voice actors. Sadly there was at no time a contract, so they were not hired before the project. But that’s only normal; it is not possible to hire anyone without ever knowing how the Kickstarter will work out. All Winged Cloud could do is asking for their rates and tell the people on Kickstarter “Those are the prices of voice actors, this is what we need”. If the voice actors changed the price afterwards it is of course causing problems.
This statement caused a near-immediate response from Michaela Laws: the director of the voice actors. Again, I encourage you to read the full story; however the key portion I am including below:
At no point in time did we request or demand any increase in pay that was not agreed to before the publishing of the Kickstarter. It was cleared that, upon the success of the Kickstarter, the voice actors would receive $75-100 each ($450-600 total all together) in exchange for both providing the voices in the full game and advertising the kickstarter on their social media pages. The only thing we have requested after the Kickstarter’s success was slightly increased time to voice the lines to a script we never received.
From there the controversy grew until May of 2015. At that point, the public line was still that The Guardian’s Spell would still be released. Shortly before the release of Sakura Fantasy Chapter 1, the plug was finally pulled, and refunds were offered for that project. Case closed, right?
On November 30th (technically today, but I’m writing this right on the time line), Sekai Project released an official statement formally retracting the statement made by the company three years ago to the week. The statement includes some claims on the events in questions as well as an apology to the VA director at the time: Michaela Laws. You can read the statement, in full, here as well as below:
We wanted to issue a statement with regards to the “Winged Cloud Exposé” video and clarify our role in the now-canceled otome game project, “The Guardian’s Spell,” as well as retract an erroneous statement we gave in 2015. In 2015, Winged Cloud chose to cancel “The Guardian’s Spell” in order to focus on other projects, and cited a disagreement with their voice actors as one of the reasons. In a statement to the publication VN’s Now, we reiterated these reasons, having believed them to be accurate. We took the word of our at the time partnered developer without doing our due diligence in getting the voice actors’ side of the story, and so parroted what we had been told by Winged Cloud in our statement. This was a mistake on our part, and so we’d like to formally apologize to the community, as well as to Michaela Laws and her voice acting group, for our error. We have reached out to Michaela privately as well to give her a well-deserved apology. In the two years since we made that statement, we have continued to grow and learn from our mistakes, though of course that doesn’t make up for past hurt that we may have caused. We will continue to do better.
In addition, we would like to clarify that we had no role in the decision to cancel “The Guardian’s Spell.” That decision was made solely by Winged Cloud, with no influence one way or another by us. The extent of our involvement with the game included briefly managing the associated Kickstarter account months after the campaign had been concluded, as well as refunding all backers out of our own pockets, despite not technically being responsible for its completion.
Thank you for reading, and for your continued support.
I am glad to see this statement, but it does raise some questions that will be saved for another entry. It’s safe to say we may be at just the beginning of this particular can of worms. For now, please support EVM Pro by watching the video. JP3: OUT.