back to article Hear that? Of course it's Indiegogo's deadline for a Vega+ whooshing by

Crowdfunding website Indiegogo has said it will continue its process for calling in debt collectors as another product delivery deadline sailed past for flailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd. This time the deadline was imposed by Indiegogo, which told RCL to deliver a production-ready Vega+ console to its US HQ …

  1. SeanR


    it's now "133 backers have requested refunds totalling £16320"

    of course, releasing a statement acknowledging the existance of:

    means that RCL are going to start refunding those backers, right?

    Maybe they can refund the backers in the comments section of their:

    Indiegogo campaign

    FB page

    twitter account

    as well. I suspect that's more than 133 backers...

    1. SeanR

      Re: refunds?

      now has:

      287 backers requesting refunds from RCL totalling £33560

      meanwhile, we're 3 days from RCLs next announced release date / IGG extension of the 15th of June.

      You'd think we'd have pictures by now, right?

      or a games list?

      Yeah, no.

      We're all counting on the next excuse blaming IGGs (reasonable) demands for a unit to be posted to the HQ, for backers requesting refunds, to be refunded, blaming IGGs 2 week extension date, and blaming Sky for denying that they delayed the previously announced release date.

      Remember when they said they were good to go 8th-12th of May?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, we're all learning about crowdfunding, as it develops ...

    and one thing we are seeing is that it's not really suitable for high-cost niche projects (which is what the Vega+ appears to be).

    Now high-cost *non-niche* projects (so a large subscriber base pledging small amounts) do seem to be the way to go.

    That said, isn't there a small element of risk in any crowdfunded venture ? After all, even it they deliver, it might be the wrong colour, or displeasing in other ways.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: High cost niche?

      With half a mil, theretically they could have done a micro controller/system on a board/prefab tablet/phone for $20 and just preloaded the emulation etc. The controllers would have been the most expensive part.

      And no, it does not cost 500k to develop that, as proven by the numerous sucessful credit card gameboy/pocket arduino projects that do succeeded! However thise are run by engineers and programmers, not PR managers and Business Management CEOs. :)

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Well, we're all learning about crowdfunding, as it develops ...

      Shockwiz, as an example, was a successful crowd funded project. A relatively small number of people paying £130 or more. But they had a working prototype and were pretty much production ready.

      Elite Dangerous on the other hand; relatively cheap, vapourware at the start, lots of disappointed punters.

      Vega+... well had all the hallmarks of a scam from day 1.

      Ask yourself what would the Dragons do? Invest in a vague idea with no product, no IP and no delivery plans? Of course they wouldn't, so why would you?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well, we're all learning about crowdfunding, as it develops ...

          Oh that looks nice, reminds me of my HTC Desire Z I liked that phone, still got it somewhere.

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Well, we're all learning about crowdfunding, as it develops ...

          The strange thing is, that both companies (RCL and Planet Computers) share the same CEO - Dr Msirc whatever-his-name-is. One successful company that delivers and one that clearly is incapable of delivering.

          Janko joined Retro a few months after the acrimonious break up of the original team. I really do not know what he was thinking when he made that decision.

          Janko and the Planet team proved with the Gemini that IndieGogo can be used really good stuff, and high cost niche ones too.

          Just remember the names of the two other people involved in Retro and keep yourself a barge-pole away from whatever they do.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Definitely vapourware then.

    What a pity.

    1. Richard Hodgson

      More the pity that it's not even like it's some pie in the sky technology or gadget of questionable scientific principles like so many other crowdfunded products; it's a handheld with an emulator installed. About a twelve dozen different models of handhelds that would do the same thing have probably been produced in China since they first announced the campaign, all they had to do was produce one of their own.

    2. Stuart 22

      Beware Unicorns!

      "Definitely vapourware then"

      Does anybody [including the RCL Directors] really believe that if you can't deliver a production ready - or something close enough to confuse Indiegogo until the 15th - you can even hope to have anything to deliver to the UK on that date?

      If it was a chance - the production kit would be coming off the lines in China or wherever now - with testing of the first batch, shipment to UK, customs and local delivery taking more than that time. In similar circumstances we have had a man take one off the production line jump on a plane with it as his 'personal computer' and show it to a customer the next day. Naughty but when your business depends on it - no question.

      Unicornware I'm afraid. Debarrment of the Directors to follow?

  4. POSitality

    I can see a problem here...

    "This time the deadline was imposed by Indiegogo, which told RCL to deliver a production-ready Vega+ console to its US HQ by yesterday. The crowdfunding website handed RCL that deadline at the start of June, as we reported."

    Did Indiegogo pay their £100 pledge like everyone else or are they expecting to get free stuff?!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I can see a problem here...

      They couldn't send it away, they've let slip on Twitter that they have one demo unit...

  5. ForthIsNotDead


    Completely f****d.

    It's popcorn time, folks. Seriously.

    1. ukgnome

      Re: F****d.

      Are you saying fucked or faked?

      As it is OK to type fucked.

      I have fucking typed a fuck load worse than fuck.

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: F****d.


        Still future tense at the moment, but getting close.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

          Re: F****d.


          What RCL tried and failed to do to "investors"

          1. kuiash

            Re: F****d.

            You know what they say... It's hard to tell incompetence from malice.

    2. Avatar of They

      Re: F****d.

      I already run out of popcorn for this story, gonna have to buy some more. Can I claim that back as well?

  6. Andrew Moore

    I'm wondering...

    If IndieGoGo's only reason for sending the hounds in is because they are now liable for the refunds to each of the backers...

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: I'm wondering...

      I would very much doubt it. I am quite sure Indiegogo were acutely aware they could be on the hook for a lot of money if they made themselves responsible for non-deliveries of products and made sure their legal Ts&Cs excluded disappointed backers making claims against them.

      It's the old "I'm only a facilitator, any contract is between you and them, nothing to do with me" get-out.

      And, if that's the case, it likely means Indiegogo has no authority to recuperate backers' monies or force refunds to be made, has no authority to act on backers' behalf.

      "We will be working with a collections agency to attempt to recoup funds disbursed, in an effort to be able to refund backers" also suggests to me that Indiegogo has very little legal leverage to force RCL into giving refunds. The best they can do is ask RCL nicely to do so, or 'send the boys round' to ask nicely.

      I have experienced collection agents arriving in the hope of getting money and it's always "piss off; take us to court if you think you have a case". I can't see RCL responding any differently.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: I'm wondering...

        The T&Cs are irrelevant.

        What matters is the judgement. Are Indiegogo jointly and severally liable?

        For example, credit card companies are. If you buy a thing with a credit card, it doesn't turn up and the supplier won't resolve it, the credit card company must refund you.

        If you order something from a shop and the manufacturer fails to deliver it, the shop must refund you - not the manufacturer.

        So is Indiegogo a shop?

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          Re: I'm wondering...

          So is Indiegogo a shop?

          We will never know until we have a judgement on that and we won't get that unless someone takes them to court.

          I am certain Indiegogo will claim they are not liable for non-delivery and non-completion of ventures, have no obligation to refund, but a court could find differently.

          I suspect it was not wanting to risk the court finding Indiegogo liable which had them suggesting they would get backer's money back on their behalf as part of the effort of avoiding disgruntled backers taking them to court.

          If crowdfunding facilitators can be held liable for failed ventures that will change the entire landscape of crowdfunding. The best which can come out of this sorry affair is that we may get better legal clarity on what responsibilities and liabilities are for all parties.

  7. ken jay

    gambling in hope

    does anyone else think crowd funding is just a new way of gambling, buy in early to a pre alpha for ££££ and then wait with baited breath to see if it actually gets worked on, released or lost in the post, if it is released and is successful you have probably made some money back on your investment, get in on a bad idea you lose everything.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: gambling in hope

      Yes of course it it. It tells you that before you commit funds.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: crowd funding is just a new way of gambling

      pretty much. The advice about being prepared to lose what you put in certainly applies.

      I'm more interested in the potential of crowdfunding to deliver a political "put your money where your mouth is" message, independently of the big political parties. After all it's now possible to deliver £100,000 - that £1 from 100,000 people on things like expensive legal actions. Cheaper than joining a political party and then having to swallow ideology you don't agree with.

    3. MonkeyCee

      Re: gambling in hope

      "does anyone else think crowd funding is just a new way of gambling,"

      Not really, it's an alternative form of fundraising. Gambling involves a hope you'll get more out than you put in.

      Traditional fundraising involves going to the bank, borrowing money from them, making the product, selling the product, then paying back the loans.

      The ideal version of crowdfunding is selling to the customers, then making the product.

      If the bank is doubtful of making their money back, having the customers pre-pay can skip the whole "prove you can sell something that doesn't exist yet" step for the bank. It can also convince an investor that a market exists, thus attracting other funding.

      It does push the due diligence onto the customer.

      In general I'll only put money down on crowdfunded projects if it's clear that the goods can be produced at the relevant scales required. There are some obvious candidates that scale perfectly well from making a few hundred sets to a few hundred thousand, such as card games. For books I think it's about 5k for a minimum run, again scaling fairly well. Board games can be a bit trickier, depending on what components are included, but again they are essentially cardboard print runs plus whatever counters.

      However, with tools and tech products, there are things that you can produce effectively by hand or fully automated, and there isn't a middle ground. So you can get away with under a hundred orders or over 10k, but anything in between is going to be problematic.

      The other issue is that people can be overly optimistic, especially if they've outsourced the production. Cost over runs, quality issues and getting sued can easily require doubling or tripling the RRP, so the nice engineer trying to give people a bargain won't slap on the expected markup, and is left stuffed when something goes wrong.

      So you need to ensure you're paying enough that the creator has sufficient margin, on the assumption the goods will be of appropriate quality.

      From personal experience flogging tat online, some people really don't believe in the last point. I've had stuff from CCGs going for pennies a card with buyers trying to haggle me down to a postage included total for less than the postage costs.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Green path...

    1. Set up company.

    2. Get cash from suckers.

    3. Pay salary.

    4. Repeat 3 until cash runs out.

    5. Fold company.

    The Philip Green path....

  9. boredguy_uk29

    Looking at the Indiegogo Vega+ page, still a lot of people asking for refunds being ignored, surely at this stage it would be better for all backers who want a refund to group together in some form of class action lawsuit / court proceedings demanding a refund ?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of people backed this was because:

    a) Sir Clive Sinclair is linked to it.

    b) On the Indiegogo project page it said it was ready to go into production. People seem to miss this bit out. From the project page Development of the product is complete, and a fully-functioning prototype is ready to go into production.. Link below if you want a refresher.

    c) The original Vega was produced and sold.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      re: it said it was ready to go into production.

      how is this not "fraud" ?

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      A lot of people backed this was because:

      a) Sir Clive Sinclair is linked to it.

      And they are certainly getting an authentic Sinclair experience out of it, so what's the beef?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only listing why many people backed it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wiggle words.

      "fully-functioning prototype is ready to go into production" only states a single prototype. I guess that would have set off my alarm bells. But I have only had a 50% return on Kickstarter PC games, and a 50% return on Early Access PC games too. So lose some win some.

  11. dnicholas

    Think of it as a donation, not a purchase

    I think they need to tighten up the rules so that companies cannot use these crowdfunding sites as pre-order mechanisms.

    Make it donation to the cause + you get whatever you donated deducted from the retail price *IF* the product makes it to market.

    I've only backed two crowdfunding projects, both games. Satellite Reign lived up to expectations and Shenmue 3 is still in development (saw that coming!), but both of these were relatively cheap "investments" I won't lose sleep over

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Think of it as a donation, not a purchase

      I have backed:

      Defence Grid 2. Completed it. Got an ATI graphics card for a dirt-cheap price on that too.

      Elite:Dangerous. Got it. Don't really play it that much, to be honest.

      Dicecards (physical playing cards). Got it. Use them. Keep them.

      Dead Man's Draw (physical playing cards). Got it. Love it. Play it all the time.

      Joking Hazard (physical playing cards). Got it. Have played it with friends.

      In terms of value for money, I'm way ahead of the game because:

      - I researched before I did anything.

      - Most of those projects were big-name things (sequels, from famous cartoonists, had already put out a popular and successful app but then made a physical game, etc.).

      - It was throw-away pocket-money.

      - They shipped on time.

      Another one I backed was cancelled and refunded (because they got an investor, so didn't need the kickstarter investment, but I still bought the game anyway!).

      Crowdfunding is great. DG2 wouldn't have existed without it, plus a lot of other things (Satellite Reign, as you point out). But it's not investment as you have no way to scrutinise things properly, and it's not a purchase/preorder as you have no guarantee at all. It's a "community project". It can fail miserably. Having seen projects raise a million dollars to produce a multi-colour LED torch, personally I think people get blinded into backing ridiculous things.

      But if you just see it as "I like their other work, it'd be good to bung them a tenner to say thanks and maybe get a sequel", then it's absolutely fine. To be honest. If some of those projects had just put up a donate button, or a "buy three copies at a reduced price to send to friends" deal, I would have done that anyway.

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Think of it as a donation, not a purchase

        Crowdfunding is great.

        More correctly: Crowdfunding is great when the backer gets what they consider acceptable for what they invested.

        It's also great when backers don't get what they expected but they understood the risks of their investment.

        It's not so great when backers don't understand what they are getting into and that's compounded by those facilitating crowdfunding not being entirely transparent and ruthlessly honest about what they are getting into.

    2. Martin Gregorie

      Re: Think of it as a donation, not a purchase

      I think they need to tighten up the rules so that companies cannot use these crowdfunding sites as pre-order mechanisms.

      I've also only backed two projects:

      • LOHAN, and I got a very nice tankard out of that, which is pretty much what I expected. Pity LOHAN has never flown, but that never looked likely once the FAA bureaucracy stuck its oar in.
      • The Glide Britain project, from which I got a book of photos. Some good videos got made and have been published on YouTube, so the team did what they had promised.

      Both of these projects did pretty much what they said on the tin, so I'm happy to have been involved with both.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think of it as a donation, not a purchase

      Only kickstarter etc I've ever backed was for Prison Architect by Intorversion software.

      A thoroughly satisfying experience throughout and a wonderful game that I still play to this day.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Have they tried asking for a moratorium?

  13. DrXym

    It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

    Paying people years up front for something they may or may not deliver is an awful proposition. It's not even like these backers even get promised a split of the profits.

    1. Craig 2

      Re: It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

      Isn't that what venture capitalists do on a much grander scale though? (Think Elon Musk / Tesla type funding)

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

        Nothing like VCs at all.

        Venture Capitalists buy shares and have a contractual return on their investment.

        The idea with VCs is that you back a lot, most of them go bankrupt and fold - and a few are big hits and make you a metric ton of money.

      2. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

        "Isn't that what venture capitalists do on a much grander scale"

        No. Elon Musk owns about 20% of Tesla Inc. in return for his investment. He doesn't (just) own a Tesla Roadster.

        If the Vega+ backers owned 60% of RCL between them then they wouldn't be in this mess.

      3. DrXym

        Re: It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

        "Isn't that what venture capitalists do on a much grander scale though? (Think Elon Musk / Tesla type funding)"

        No it's not what venture capitalists do. Venture capitalists lend money for a share in the venture (hence the name). Yes they can lose their money and do but succeed by ensuring the hits pay for the misses.

        And more to the point they' WILL send the auditors and lawyers in if the company or its directors are not doing what they're supposed to be doing. Crowdfunding has no such checks and balances - if a kickstarter decides to blow all your cash on their lifestyle and then proclaim failure - tough.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

      Downvoted, because it's a sweeping statement.

      Crowdfunding is a good idea for things that are outside the remit of contemporary capitalism.

      It is emphatically NOT a "different way of doing the same thing".

      1. DrXym

        Re: It's almost as though crowdfunding is a terrible idea

        "Downvoted, because it's a sweeping statement."

        It's a sweeping statement because its generally true.

        The majority of crowdfunding boils down to "pay me £10 and in a year I might give you a bottle of wine worth £11 and I'll throw in a signed sticker of all the gang here in Dodgy Wine Co.". So yay, I'm locked into this bottle of wine for a year which I may or may not get, may or may not be worth the money.

        And if you're so concerned about stuff outside the "remit of contemporary capitalism" then you too agree too because the vast majority of kickstarters are exactly that.

  14. adam payne

    Another deadline passes and still nothing.

    Although looking at the Indiegogo page RCL have said first units to ship 15th of June but at this point who is actually going to believe them.

    1. MonkeyCee

      Nuclear fusion....

      "Although looking at the Indiegogo page RCL have said first units to ship 15th of June but at this point who is actually going to believe them."

      I presumed those delivery dates are set as CURRENT_DATE+14

      In much the same way as profitable nuclear fusion is always 20 years away, but we'd like a few billion a year to make sure we get there. At least fusion reactions appear to occur, just not more energy out than in.

  15. Spartacus Mills

    to gogo or not to gogo...

    5 days ago RCL said:

    "We would like to thank all of our backers and Indiegogo for their ongoing support and for recognising our perseverance."

    today they say:

    "Indiegogo have...poured oil on the flames and made it more difficult for us to deliver the Vega+ project"

    - and yet in the time which elapsed between those 2 contrasting statements Indiegogo have simply done exactly what they already warned RCL they would do if their requirements were not met on time.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    12 step recovery programme

    > Five days ago a company spokesman assured The Register that it had already "begun the process of sending the campaign owners to collections".

    Process definition

    Step 1: Wait 90 days

    Step 2: Err, check to see if there have been any more press enquiries

  17. grahamken

    Hi Folks,

    Just incase people are wondering. If you are a backer of The ZX Vega+, you can add your refund request to the list at

  18. 89724102371714531892324I9755670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

    No-show bikes, console. I look forward to the next Sinclair disaster.

  19. NobbyNobbs


    Just as first sample casings and boxes shown this week for the ZX Spectrum Next.

    I feel sorry for the Vega backers.

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