Backers of crowdfunded Delta Six controller hit by friendly fire

It’s all fun and games till someone shoots their eye out

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The Delta Six controller is the latest entry in my inadvertent series on crowdfunding drama. Hot on the heels of news that The Stomping Land was abandoned by its development team, details have emerged of project mismanagement, unfulfilled orders, and lack of communication between Kotkin Enterprises and Kickstarter backers.

The Delta Six is a motion controller designed to enhance the first-person shooter experience by duplicating the look and feel of a real assault rifle. It received a lot of media coverage and brought in almost double its $100,000 goal via Kickstarter in May 2013. Backers were told that the controller would ship in December 2013, with the first shipments going to those who pledged at the $500 tier and trickling down as units came off the line.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. After several delays, Kotkin started shipping the final product May 2014. Although several $500 pledgers confirmed receiving their controller, as the months went by, backers became more and more restless as to when they were getting their product. The company did post updates in July about being on the news and its new Instagram account, and again in August detailing a Fusion TV appearance. However, it did not comment on repeated inquiries as to when the product was going to reach backers.

After the Fusion TV update, in a move out of the, “Oh shit, everyone is on to us,” Internet marketing playbook, Kotkin Enterprises went silent. From August 12 until February 16 the company released neither any updates to backers, nor shipped any Delta Six controllers. Monday, it finally released an update on its Kickstarter page stating that Kotkin Enterprises was under new management and the product is being manufactured under a completely new team. The “management team” admitted, “In looking at the pledge amounts from the backers and the cost of goods on our end we found HUGE problems in the management of the Kickstarter process. It was very very poorly managed from the start.”

So who is this new management? Details are as sketchy as the rest of this ordeal, but interestingly enough, the link provided for backers to pay arbitrary extra shipping costs leads to the domain of a product that is also mired in controversy, the Avenger Controller. Way back in 2011, the Avenger and its producer N-control were taking heat for delivering the product late (surprise), and the actions of their chosen public relations firm, known internet asshole Paul Christophoro’s Ocean Marketing. At some point Kotkin Enterprises either changed its name from N-control, or bought the rights to the Avenger Controller and its domain. If you peruse the website, you can purchase your very own Delta Six, that will be mailed right to your door, while the Kickstarter backers continue to wait for theirs.

Backers were told, due to the company’s mismanagement, the Delta Six’s costs were higher than anticipated, and to receive the product they’ve already paid for, they must pay an additional $30 in the U.S. or $70 internationally for shipping, in contradiction to the Kickstarter description that assured shipping was included with the pledge. As if the backers weren’t screwed over enough, Kotaku spoke to the company’s namesake, David Kotkin, who had this to say about refunds, “When you invest in this company, you invest in it. If you did invest in the company, I spent the money on ordering a certain amount of Delta Sixes. So if, all of a sudden, you don’t want it, it’s [not possible]. It’s not like you bought the purchase. You didn’t purchase a product. You invested in a company to develop a product in the hope of getting a prize. But I want you to realize I’m honoring the promise. I’m more than honoring the promise, I believe.”

Kotkin’s excuse for the product being available on the website is that the current inventory was being sold to fund an improved version of the Delta Six, which would be the version that goes to backers. However, he didn’t state any of that to anyone before speaking to Kotaku, and instead went silent for 6 months, and then his company updated their Kickstarter to ask for more money. Also, why would the new model go to backers, when they’re being expected to pay even MORE just to get the current model shipped. Are they going to pay shipping, receive the current model, then a free improved model? Are they going to have to wait even longer after paying? What the fuck is going on?

According to the comments page on Kickstarter, none of those who chose to pony up the extra cash have received any solid tracking information other than “pre shipment info received.” Several backers have also filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and their State’s Attorney General’s office (or their country’s equivalent).

When contacted, Kickstarter replied its typical “¯\_(ツ)_/¯,” and linked to its Kickstarter 101 page.

After all the screw ups and excuses involved in this Kickstarter, I wouldn’t trust these people to manage putting on a pair of pants, much less a electronics manufacturing operation. If you were a backer of the Delta Six controller, you may want to wait to see proof that the controllers are even shipping under new management before committing to spending even more on the product.

I’ve got a weird feeling that this story isn’t at its end.

$200,000 Gun Controller Kickstarter Goes Dark, Then Asks For More Money [Kotaku]


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