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Elementary, My Dear Holmes' developer denies 'shady' Kickstarter activity

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Victory Square Games head Sam Chandola has sent a letter to backers of the suspended Kickstarter campaign for Elementary, My Dear Holmes, denying any attempt to "astroturf" the project, adding that he has "suspicions" about who might have corrupted the game's fundraising attempt.

Last week, Kickstarter suspended the campaign for the point-and-click adventure, following allegations of fake donations. Console manufacturer Ouya had added the game to its $1 million Free the Games Fund, which would have triggered a dollar-for-dollar fund match at the $50,000 threshold. At its suspension, the campaign had received $58,770 from 861 backers. The campaign was due to end on Sept. 13.

"Some people allege that I have a hand to play in this. That I orchestrated the whole campaign," wrote Chandola. "Not me, nor anyone at Victory Square Games did anything to astroturf our project. We did not do it ourselves, we did not pay anyone to do it, we did not ask anyone to do it."

Chandola stated that he had reported the issue to Kickstarter when the allegations arose, based on a high number of first-time backers offering unusually high contributions. "I reported my own project to Kickstarter because I did not want anything to do with any shady matter," he wrote, repeating a point he made in a statement released last week.

Allegations that Victory Square Games had sought to pad the funding, in order to trigger Ouya exclusivity funding, were baseless, he said.

"We would not have seen the bulk of the Ouya money until the end of production, which was not happening till March 2014," he argued. "Our survival, for six months, was going to be on the amount raised from Kickstarter. The money we would have got from Ouya later was a security against exclusivity on the platform.

"We did not have high expectations for a gazillion sales on the Ouya — the install base does not justify it — and so the money we would have received after we would have shipped the game would have kept us alive until the exclusivity was over and we could go to other platforms. It was not in our best interest to go with Free The Games. But we chose to do so because it appeared to be a guarantee against low sales."

Chandola alluded to "vile sorcery," alleging that a third party had tampered with the campaign. "Do I have my suspicions on whom I think did it? Yes, I do. But they are suspicions. Strong suspicions, but suspicions nonetheless. And I will not make claims based purely on suspicions," he said.

He added that game development on Elementary, My Dear Holmes, an adventure in which Sherlock Holmes' blustering sidekick turns out to be the smart detective, would proceed "even if we have to work out from an alley," and that it would be released on Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.

"We'll still need at least six months to make this," he said. "Because of the setbacks we have had, we might not be able to start until mid or late October. But start we shall and deliver we will."