William Brandes, the head of the “bailout” group for John Popadiuk’s Zidware games, just published this statement on Pinside:
“First and foremost, I would like to express my deep gratitude to everyone who dedicated their time and effort to help bring Magic Girl to light. Without everyone’s effort this would not have been possible.
I would also like to personally thank everyone who believed and supported me in this endeavor.
After working and speaking with a lot of you, who know pinball development inside and out, and finally getting an opportunity to see how far along Magic Girl really is, I have decided that it is not worth my effort or finances to move this to completion.
Despite the fact that I’m not going to continue with MG, I do not regret the investment I have made as I hold the friendships cultivated at a much higher value.
Thanks again for all your support and patience.
With the failure of the bailout group to “Pet Sematary” these games back to life, this seems to be the final nail in the coffins of Magic Girl, Retro-Atomic Zombie Adventureland and Alice in Wonderland.
Recently, a crash-effort was made to get Magic Girl “flippable” for the Northwest Pinball and Gameroom show. It was on display but failed to win over players. The art is very impressive but the game itself has poor geometry and terrible gameplay. The code is still at a very early stage, partly because many of the toys, ramps and other assemblies either don’t exist or were never integrated. Partly because John Popadiuk simply stopped paying the software developer.
It became obvious to all that a lot more work was needed for the design, programming and hardware to get Magic Girl to the point of a fully working, completed prototype. Exacerbating all this was John Popadiuk’s decision to use all custom hardware and a custom pinball operating system. If the work so far had been done on the P-ROC, it’s possible the code could have been made public and opened the possibility for a “fan-completed” game.
And all of this before the massive task of manufacturing and post-sales could even begin. Put another way, where John Popadiuk ended is not even where Predator began. All after four years and an estimated one million dollars in pre-order money! What was he doing all that time?
So what’s next? Most obviously: lawsuits. There can be little doubt that Zidware will be sued into bankruptcy and legal action is already underway. John Popadiuk has not been forthcoming with what money is left, but the courts will no doubt get to the bottom of it.
It’s also certain that John Popadiuk’s legacy is obliterated. Once revered as the designer of Williams titles such as Cirqus Voltaire, World Cup Soccer and Tales of the Arabian Nights, at best he’s now considered a complete flake – the stereotypical aloof artist who can’t focus and see anything to the finish line unless surrounded by a support team and managers.
At worst, a con artist, a thief and a liar who repeatedly lied about the status of the project and continued to accept pre-order money even when the project was in serious jeopardy.
Some pre-order customers have over $20,000 with Zidware, and a total loss, or pennies on the dollar, are unfortunately the most likely outcomes. It’s an unbelievable financial loss and I feel horrible for everyone involved.
So with that, 2015 has seen two boutique manufacturers ship games (Spooky Pinball and Planetary Pinball) and two other boutique manufacturers (Zidware and Skit-B) crash and burn. And the year is only half over. There may yet be more dominoes to fall. If anything can said to have come of these messes it’s that a higher standard of transparency and credibility will be expected going forward, but at an unfortunately incredible price.