I am not in on Zidware pre-orders. I do know several that are, and I feel for them, and all of you in or out of this deal, b/c sad for anyone in pinball.
My add to the conversation is something new (I hope). Converting every one's deposit to a shareholder position, along with the new licensee, and as a group of owners, hire a factory, and start over with vendors, build games.
After reading the letter, and being involved in a few equity positions of small firms, there may be a way out using another approach.
1. Licensee is buying rights to build that title. Not liable for any $ sent or spent by John pre-June 1.
2. There are no assets for a 2nd or 3rd party to buy - prior pinball shutdowns sold remaining parts (hard assets) to one party, and licensing to another (for example PPS, now owns the Williams licensing and IP to be able to produce games, and get royalties on repro parts.)
3. Given #1, there is no money going to JPop, one benefit is that he bails from build commitment,
4. Given there are no assets, except maybe a few parts, Licensee is not buying Zidware, but taking over the license, newly converted deposits > shareholders would join her/him/them. If you don't convert your deposit to equity - the only other option for Zidware is bankruptcy ch 7. Vendors and deposits spend money to chase $0. ZW/JPop remains a debtor to vendors and folks that don't convert to an equity position.
5. Regardless of Zidware and JPop's financial outcome - a Licensee could still do the games on their own nickel.
6. June 1 appears to be a small fraction of signers, based on posts in this thread, and comment from buyers telling me themselves - the letter, in current form, is dead on arrival.
7. Unless Ice and others are correct about the "angel" having a big revival of trust that MG, etc. will get built - I doubt the Licensee will make any second offer that will be accepted.
8. I presume no amount of changing that letter/offer will change minds to sign it.
So what's the last ditch idea?:
A counter offer that Zidware deposit $ become shareholder $, so become equity owners of the License, along with the angel Licensee, with share of ownership equal to the amount deposited. Of course, to be confident as a part owner - you'd want to know who the big "Licensee" co-owner is (perhaps they have money down, and would be a shareholder anyway?).
A conversion does at least 3 things:
A. every body with $ in, gets a share of future games made - if the Licensee is right that 199 MG's can happen, you have the potential for upside. It might still fail, and you get $0, but at least high risk has a potential for high returns, without upside, your high risk has a return of just great harm. Re: rareness being part of the value of the $16k, at least you'd get some $ from new orders for yours being "less limited".
B. The lawsuit threat goes away for the new owners - drop the "no suing for 4 years" clause for the new entity, yet existing claims on Zidware / Jpop remain. In other words, conversions of deposit into equity shares, should prevent ability to sue yourself (as a new owner) or fellow co-owners.
C. Only those with enough energy remain "in" the project, and are cheering on the effort to get games done - some hope of getting your game, + some upside $ for the risk/pain taken.
What it doesn't do:
A. Can't guarantee anything. But your risk now has some $ return, vs. todays almost certain 100% loss.
B. Still leaves a problem of who is the management person/team. That may be the toughest part, but also some of these posts show some smart, savvy business guys that would be good candidates - should be a fellow shareholder who has skin in the game.
C. It isn't free. This new owner group would need to put in capital - a capital share equal to your new ownership - $ to get parts, hire a builder, and someone to manage all that business side.
An owners of GitRDone Pinall, it might look like this for example:
Lets assume 30 MG deposits at $8k , that's 240,000
Lets assume 100 RAZA deposits at $5k thats 500,000
Lets assume 50 AIW depositings at $5 250,000
Let's toss in a 10k rounding to get a $1,000,000 of deposits.
Every 10K in deposits is worth 1% ownership, and participate in future revenue from larger MG and RAZA production runs.
Lets guess MG BoM/labor at $9k per Bheck's estimate and a $1k profit per game. Sell another 100 magic girls and shareholders split 100K, i.e. a 10K original deposit = 1% = $1k per new MG sold.
To me, that's a bet i can think about, that has both up/down sides, and gets me something for my deposit rather than almost certain $0 in bankruptcy, and maybe below $0 if I have to pay someone to collect my claim. Remember, a claim from a judge, doesn't mean you won't have to pursue collection on that judgement.