American McGee’s OZombie Kickstarter Cancelled

Goobye, yellow brick road. (Not pictured: a yellow brick road)

Did you know that American McGee and his delicately spiced band of horses launched a Kickstarter for undead scarecrow steampunk opus OZombie? No? Well apparently neither did a lot of people, because its yellow brick road stopped well short of a $950,000 goal, with the developer closing the curtains on the crowdfunding drive despite weeks left on the clock.

So then, what happens now? A, erm, different Kickstarter, of course.

McGee chalked up OZombie’s untimely end to two main factors: the Kickstarter’s rather discouraging rate of progress and the looming opportunity to snag movie rights to the grim and ghoulish Alice saga. He explained:

“For Oz, we can always launch another campaign in the future. On the other hand, the Alice film rights are only within reach during a rapidly closing window of opportunity. We’ll sacrifice Oz today in order to have a real chance with Alice.”

“Securing these film rights would be nothing short of a major coup. We’d control a significant portion of Alice’s future. Being able to produce animations, feature films and related merchandise means keeping Alice’s world fresh, no matter what else might happen with the game portion of the property.”

The Alice Kickstarter is now up and running, if you’re interested. It promises – at the very least – an animated feature about Alice entering the minds of Victorian London standouts like Jules Verne, Jack the Ripper, Darwin, and Queen Victoria in an effort to defeat “a threat greater than the asylum or the man who killed her family”. The goal’s far more modest this time around, even at the still rather piggy bank pulverizing price of $200,000.

That said, McGee and co also have incredibly little to hold up their Kickstarter’s chalky, skeletal frame, with only vague promises that they’ve worked with “top-notch animation studios” near their headquarters on previous projects. All well and good, but Spicy Horse is still a game studio. Animated features are quite a different animal, so there’s no telling whether we’ll see creative compromise or an all-out tug-of-war.

The again, Spicy Horse hasn’t exactly created particularly great games in the recent past, and world-building does seem to be its strong suit. Maybe this arrangement will be better off for all involved? Personally, I still plan to steer well clear of this Kickstarter (too much recent tumult for my tastes, and Akaneiro really didn’t give me much faith in the company on any front), but what about you?


  1. Ultra Superior says:

    American McGee. A household name.

  2. Chizu says:

    I knew about it, and was pretty interested by the idea of Ozombie, but I couldn’t have backed it anyway.
    Its a shame that its stalled, but considering they launched it after asking people on their mailing list if we wanted a new Alice or the OZ game, but didn’t wait to see if the talks about Alice actually panned out, I’m not really that surprised.

  3. TheTingler says:

    I utterly loved both Alice games, and was fine with the gameplay of both, and was really excited by the prospect of the same type of game in the Oz universe. It was badly handled and advertised however, with the terrible title and confusing campaign being the main problems. An Alice animation Kickstarter from a non-animation studio though I don’t believe I will support…

    • Philomelle says:

      The campaign wasn’t confusing so much as extremely confused. It was trying to do a serious horror story with zombies as social commentary but gave it a whimsical “arcade zombie basher” title, ranted about steampunk imagery and compared Dorothy Gale to Mad Max within the span of one sentence, as well as couldn’t decide if it was a turn-based tactics game or an Alice-style action/adventure (it intended to somehow be both at once, last I heard). And the only things to back it up were some concept art and a sneaky Alice-related secret from a dog-guarded box in case if six thousand of us bite into the offer.

      Now, I’m a fan of American McGee. I loved both Alice games and I maintain that Akaneiro has some potential in the distant future. But OZombie is best summarized as a mistake with a capital M, one built around a lot of loud and conflicting promises with no sense of focus or actual vision whatsoever.

      • KevinLew says:

        I thought that using the same idea as Curiosity: What’s In The Box as a ploy for your Kickstarter was pretty shameless. Hey, I have this life-changing, amazing secret held in a box, and I’ll only reveal it if enough people pay me money.

        • Philomelle says:

          I don’t even mind him attaching a piece of major secret information to a specific number of backers.

          What I mind was him confirming that the thing in that box had absolutely nothing to do with the project (and is thus inherently worthless to backers) via an update where he posted in desperate capslock while pretending to be his dog.

  4. MeestaNob says:

    The well is dry, no need to keep making Alice games.

  5. brulleks says:

    ‘It promises – at the very least – an animated feature about Alice entering the minds of Victorian London standouts like Jules Verne, Jack the Ripper, Darwin, and Queen Victoria in an effort to defeat “a threat greater than the asylum or the man who killed her family”.’

    No zombies?

    Maybe he could get McG to direct it. After all, they have so much in common beyond their names (i.e. the ability to destroy once-mighty legacies).

    Seeing as it is a film, at least for once we won’t have to worry about his inability to create engaging game mechanics, I suppose.

    You know, I can’t think of an article that has inspired quite so much cynicism in me for quite some time. I can’t honestly believe McGee thinks anyone would want to back this.

  6. Felixader says:

    This move is silly and not very well thought trough.

    What they would need is to stabilize their name and their resumee.
    What i mean is they need to actually make and bring out stuff, thus establishing that they are able to do so.
    Thess switcheroos and constant spouting of conflicting plans and opinions on their own projects and the erratic “looking into other things” shows me an lack of focus and is not going to make me want to invest in their projects.

    That said: if i am not mistaken they have actually brought something out via kickstarter, as opposed to other well known companies.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Basically, what they’re really after is a lump sum to keep the lights on. The kickstarter narrative will have to perform however many logical contortions necessary until they either get it, or go out of business.

      Sorry, I guess cynicism is catching!

  7. DrScuttles says:

    Great, a film based on Alice In Wonderland is what I always wanted. Why hasn’t anyone made one before?

  8. lowprices says:

    Is the demand really there for an Alice film (at least the American McGee version)? I thought the last Alice game tanked, but maybe I’m wrong. Also, regarding Ozombie I think they’re going to have to start lowering their expectations for what they’ll get on Kickstarter. It seems like you have to be a big industry ‘name’ to get million-plus funding, and McGee’s name just doesn’t carry that weight.

  9. Nevard says:

    American McGee’s “Original Character; Do Not Steal”

  10. Secundus says:

    I cant believe i live in a world where The Wizard Of Oz With Zombies was an idea that anybody thought for a nanosecond isnt complete shit.

    • SirKicksalot says:

      I recently watched Sam Raimi’s Oz movie.
      When they reached the cemetery, the movie should have turned into Army of Darkness 2.

    • Turkey says:

      I don’t even know how to say OZombie out loud and have it make sense.

      • lowprices says:

        It’s best to pronounce it with a sense of surprise: “Oh. Zombie?” Then preferably follow up with a disappointed sigh.

  11. Maxheadroom says:

    Why do they cancel they things weeks or even months before the deadline? Save for a few exceptions that sail past their goal within hours of starting most of them have a slow start and ramp up to a final push, just look at Elite

    And I only backed that Road Rash remake because with 48 hours left it was barely halfway funded and looked like a lost cause, but that made it and even a stretch goal or 2

  12. Philomelle says:

    Because the Kickstarter just barely made it to 140/950K in three weeks and nobody else bothered backing it because they hated everything about it.

    Just try reading the updates and you’ll understand. The entire thing is a disastrous mess.

  13. Gap Gen says:

    “Victorian London standouts like Jules Verne”

    Well, clearly.

  14. Stardog says:

    All his games are b-rate at best. I don’t get why anyone would give money to this.

    I seriously believe he only gets hype because American McGee is an interesting sounding name. He sounds like he should be a good game designer, but he’s not.

  15. Chubzdoomer says:

    The stars just refuse to align for this guy. His only “claim to fame” was designing levels for Doom 2 and the Quake series and helping create the cool Alice game over 10 years ago. Since then, he’s either been involved with terrible or mediocre games. It’s really a shame because he has a great imagination, but he just can’t seem to put it together anymore in the form of a computer game that’s actually fun to play.

  16. Crosmando says:

    American McGee and his Chinese Sweatshop: A Tale of too much Ego and not enough Money

  17. Pich says:

    Alice is mai waifu

  18. zebramatt says:

    I became increasingly convinced from the OZombie campaign that McGee has well and truly lost the plot.

    Still love to see a twisted Oz game someday, mind you!