Correct me if I'm wrong, but what we basically know about the situation is something like this?
* Zidware took money from at least 17 people (edit: for MG, 125 or RAZA and an undetermined amount for AIW: thanks RareHero) and hasn't produced anything and has stated they have no intention of refunding anybody
* Zidware will not be producing the games. The only known assets they have aside from office equipment are the prototypes and the IP/licensing. There's talk of bankruptcy, which screws all customers and suppliers.
* A customer has come in and negotiated some deal to take what appears to be most of the assets of the company out of the company, right before it implodes.
* This new company "is looking into making the games" and has some ideas, but it remains to be seen if they can do more than display a prototype.
* The new company is offering some kind of arrangement where it will give partial credit to previously-shafted customers, but in effect, there is no guarantee the games will be made and there's conditions on the arrangement (like a waiver of liability) that are just as suspicious as JPop's original agreement.
There are four different factions in the scenario:
1. the licensee and their people that now have Zidware's IP and prototypes
2. customers who are owed money and/or games
3. suppliers who are owed money
4. the pinball community
Faction 1: They lost money in the deal, but they now have Zidware assets that they can use to offset their loss, or possibly turn a profit.
Faction 2: They appear to be screwed. The only option they've been offered is to try and make a deal with Faction 1, who may or may not complete a deal, and regardless they can't seek justice or sue
Faction 3: They appear to be screwed as well. But depending upon whether Faction 1 needs their help, they may get some of their owed money back.
Faction 4: No skin in the game, but the group most likely to ask the hard questions and get to the bottom of the deal and try to keep the pinball market from turning into a casino.
I'm curious among the lawyers here, what are the options available? Could Zidware legally hand off most of their assets to a third party before aborting the business and leave their customers hanging? People are being told to "wait" but this is the critical time where any assets that could be used to offset customer and supplier losses can be "disappeared."
On top of this, there are a few "basic facts" (based on history) - some might argue with this, but I'm going to put it out there:
Fact 1: Building pinball machines is hard. Even with a working prototype, it is a very difficult, time-consuming process. The design aspect is only a tiny piece of the effort. And that's basically all you have at this point. And it's not complete.
Fact 2: It's highly unlikely that a new manufacturer could produce X of these games without going hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt. No savvy "businessman" or "investor" would take this project strictly for the profit potential. It's not there. The product is too fragile. The market is too small. The cost to produce is too high. There are too many different suppliers needed. It's a circus trying to tie all the components together and make it work. That's not to say it can't be done. People have done it, but (AFAIK) nobody has ever managed to do it on time and under budget.
Fact 3: As far as pinball machines go, MG was not engineered to be "easy to manufacture" so whatever issues there might be with production are further compounded by the "no compromises in design" aspect.
Given what we know, what are the options and most likely what's going to happen?
If history is any indication there are three basic outcomes:
1. The producer never makes the product and the customers and suppliers get shafted. (perhaps some more than others due to what happens legally)
2. The games do get made and whoever produces them takes a loss, but manages to get them made.
3. The games are made and the deal gets turned around and works out.
What outcome is the most likely? What outcome has happened the most in the past?
I think anybody that comes in and makes promises to the community needs to recognize the reality of the situation and the history of the industry.