Been out of town and off line, and got clued in and I have to say this is just mind boggling.
I am somewhat in shock, even if the last couple of months seemed to be pointing towards this direction. While I believe Kevin was naive in some ways, thinking he could pull this off, meaning build a production machine in quantity and building a licensed machine and not get caught, etc. however, while he was naive in those ways, he was clearly acting in illegal ways and he certainly knew it.
Whether he could slip one past the goalie and not get caught is one thing, but it went beyond that since he out right lied about the license, loudly and publicly, and continued to do so, he collected money based on the lies and he also took friends on a ride that has now damaged their reputations and likely their businesses.
Since I was interested in pursuing a license I had a several long conversations with Kevin on licensing and building of machines, and in those conversations he gave me very specific details of what was in the alleged license agreement, including costs, restrictions and what he had paid. Most of the details matched up with license info I had gotten from an old friend who was C-level guy at Fox I was talking with (the subject of predator never came up, and I feel terrible that it didn't, since that may have brought this to attention sooner, although I am surprised that it did not come up when the Heighway guys were doing their license, which I know was completed and signed when I had this conversation, last spring). So, what Kevin was telling me sounded legit. I also saw an unsigned, agreement with the EoD guys, with a few things redacted, so that certainly provided further support to believe he had the license, especially when that was announced a Jamie was there with Kevin.
The fact that Kevin talked about the details shows he knew what the licensing requirements would entail, so any 'fair use' nonsense is just that nonsense.
Based on my conversations and the connection I established with Kevin, I had no reason to doubt his truthfulness, I even provided him help with getting the game running on a cubiboard single board computer he was looking at using for production. He sent me the board and the predator game code and I built the necessary system to get it up and running and tested.
I am sure Paul (virutapin), Aaron (Fast) and Matt (back alley), all believed Kevin had a legit license, just like I did as I"m sure the others who had those kind of conversations with him. I guess like any lie or con, the details are what make it believable. And while I believe Kevin had every intention of delivering Predator machines, that does not mean he was not conning people, he was and he was probably conning himself as well.
I think Aaron's bluster of late both in Predator and Jpop does mean he deserves a little bit of grief given his definitive statements and strong vocal support. Obviously he has an agenda for moving his business forward, and it certainly seems he ignored signs there was big trouble, in hopes that it would all work out and I'm sure he now feels like a schmuck for doing so. He has now learned in both Jpop and skit-B, that you need to be careful of who you get into bed with and you choose to support and that fixing broken situations is not easy. So, while Aaron does deserves some grief, he is certainly not at fault in this fiasco, and will certainly pay for what he has done in holding back info, by the damage it has done to his reputation.
Other then that one or two posts from Paul, I don't think he was a cheerleader in this and I don't recall much from Matt has far as being a campaigner so I really see those guys as victims, as much as the buyers, especially if they to end up losing money over this in addition to the damage to their reputations and businesses.
As far as whysnow, I can understand those who are angry at him feeling he was promoting the game heavily and came across as if he had inside knowledge. Clearly he didn't and I think he now sees how some of his posts would make it seem that way (certainly seemed to me he had inside knowledge), but everyone here is a big boy (or girl) and you make your own decisions, so, we all have to take these types of things and weigh them for ourselves, we all know he can't trust everything you read on the internet, let alone a forum. Plus, if you look at at lot of his posts, you know he talks more about shit then he knows. I'm sure he is feeling doubly screwed, both as an owner and the hit his reputation has taken. However, has obi-wan said, "who is the more foolish the fool, or the fool who follows him?"
While I totally respect what the anonymous group did as far them first getting their refunds before doing the deeper investigation (plenty of these guys and others were screaming 'there is no license' for quite a while and everyone had the option to at least ask for their refunds, even if of late they were not getting issued). I do not agree that they should have kept their info to themselves. They owed Fox nothing to keep their mouths shut, but as members of this community they should have shared what they knew, since it may have made it possible for more people to get their money back. I'm sure some would still not have listened but it may have helped others.
As far as others who had knowledge of late and held off thinking 'a deal could get done', well, they should have known better on that. It is nearly impossible to see how any other company would want to step in on this and take it over, and certainly there is no way it could be done at that price point, which anyone who has built a machine or even looked closely at it, knew there was little to no margin on this.
Bottom line, at the end of the day the only one to blame for this is Kevin, he took lots of people for a ride, no matter how much money gets distributed back out, if any, damage has been done to way too many people.
I don't think this is the end of boutique makers, it was inevitable that we would see failures, and most of the others all seem to be doing things open and legit. I do think this will discourage companies from tying and buyers from buying, so while it may not kill it, it certainly will result in a major setback from that aspect of the ecosystem.
It is still a great time for pinball, despite this black eye. I wish the best for all of those who have been hurt by this and hope for the best possible outcomes for each of you.