Battlefront and Dust Studios are Partners No More

Paolo Parente has posted an update about the Wave 2 shipping of items from the Operation Babylon Kickstarter campaign. Spoiler alert: The news isn’t very good. The relationship between Dust Studios and Battlefront is officially ended. Dust Studios is asking backers of the Kickstarter campaign to call their credit card company and ask for a refund. They will also have a further update about the project and shipping out product that has been produced next week on the 17th. You can check out the full letter from Mr. Parente below the cut.

Dear Babylon Kickstarter Backer,

We are heartbroken to send you this message: Battlefront refuses to pay the amount due for the so called “Wave 2” of the Babylon Kickstarter campaign and therefore Dust Studio cannot deliver the items to Battlefront for distribution.

After four weeks of negotiations we still have not received a purchase order or a payment, regardless of our final and generous discount offer on the debated freebies.

During these four weeks Dust Studio has been bullied and blackmailed instead, with
Battlefront demanding the impossible from us in order for them to fulfill their obligations! They have asked us to pay them for editing and graphic design work their staff did on our rulebook, demanding a fee of over US $100,000.00.
They have requested we buy back their Dust stock — the stock that was eventually paid for to the factoring bank precisely with the revenue from the Babylon Campaign KS!

Battlefront is holding your money hostage, attempting to force us into an unbearable position and capitulate.

Please accept our apologies but we cannot accept any further humiliation. Our brand has been dragged through the mud and our reputation seriously damaged. Enough is enough!

Dust Studio has manufactured all the units listed as “Wave 2” in good faith but cannot afford nor are we willing to pay for jobs that Battlefront was never hired for in the first place, or for stock of products that have been discounted on the market for the past six months. These issues have nothing to do with the Kickstarter!

Being in breach of both our distribution and the Kickstarter agreements, Battlefront has been notified that our business relationship is officially ended.

What happens next? Why are you receiving this letter? A follow-on offer of how to receive the products you ordered will be published Sunday, May 17. In the meantime we strongly suggest that you contact your credit card company and ask for a full refund.

Please accept our most sincere apologies. And thank you for your continued patience and support.

Dust Studio Team


  • Sisyphus

    Sad to hear about Dust but I never got into it thankfully.

    If Paolo needs some money, he can finally get back into doing Confrontation: Phoenix. Probably more money there than Dust ever would have seen.

    • BDUB

      I’m all out of tears for Paolo and DUST. I cried my last one when DUST: Warfare died.

      • Sisyphus

        I think it’s kinda funny how the ball falls back on the consumer. “Oh, hey… call your CC company and demand a return on your money…”

        Neglected to add “Oh… I hope you got a really nice CC company that will let you still get your money back after several months of the charge posted to your account…”

        Likes like Dust is now “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.

        Honestly, I’ve sorta sworn off Kickstarters. I can only recall a few, and small ones I might add, that delivered both good physical materials and play tested rules.

        I think I’ve come away being disappointed more than half the time… and it not being over delays.

        • Odinsgrandson

          This seems like it might be a large blow to Kickstarter all together.

          I mean, DUST is a well known franchise, that’s had some big names associated with it, and Battlefront is a well known company that is probably stocked at your LGS.

          And it turns out that they can’t deliver a kickstarter. That’s going to be bad news for small unknown companies that don’t have the track record to prove that they can deliver.

          And this is definitely a Kickstarter that has burned quite a few people. I bet a decent number of them are wary of the format- a number will probably never back a Kickstarter again.

          • Sisyphus

            There have been several kickstarters that had equal or worse results. Defiant Games comes to mind. Otherworld Miniatures too. But small potatoes.

            BF is a big name. And they look like they are having childhood antics with a design studio. There is more for them to lose.

          • Odinsgrandson

            Exactly. BF is big. It’s in my LGS. How are they not savvy enough to deliver a Kickstarter?

          • jeff fearnow

            It might be that they reckon their savvy is in the ‘hard deal’ in order to maximize their intake. There are many cases of companies reaching Peak Hubris just in time for Immovable Object.

            Now since GW has proven that Peak Hubris is an almost infinite value, this may continue to play out. But I digress.

  • BenitoSenence

    Yeah really disappointed that two established companies can’t produce on a over funded kickstarter. I backed this getting some product but not the stuff they are fighting over. Worse, I can’t tell who really is to blame. Both are doing a he said she said dance with us backers. I wanted Dust to succeed and a Battlefront partnership made me pay more attention to the latter company but now I’m thinking of not supporting either if this is their business tactics. I thought GW was bad!

    • Odinsgrandson

      Battlefront’s latest update (May 9th) was for backers only. What did they say about all of this?

      • BenitoSenence

        They say Dust is the liar and the problem to the situation. They have also said Dust won’t use a neutral mediator. Again Dust says Battlefront is not fulfilling its contractual obligations

        • Damn. Anything else, or just “it’s the fault of Paolo/DUST” ?

          • BenitoSenence

            I just received a long email from the CEO at Battlefront and it is super detailed about the relationship between the two companies. They take responsibility for the issues at hand but have stated that Dust hasn’t given them any documents that show they made the products they claim. Battlefront is asking us to get Dust Studios to send the product invoice and they will send the money. All stuff Dust Studios is refusing to do and pointing fingers at Battlefront. Right now I feel Dust Studios is acting childish and not fulfilling their contractual agreements. Know I wonder if they acted the same with Fantasy Flight

          • Odinsgrandson

            Wow, I’d love to see that letter.

            BF have been pretty sparse on the details they’ve given us, but I’d love to see things from their viewpoint.

          • Sisyphus

            I think in the end, best for BF to pay a portion back to those kickstarter backers. Correct me if I am wrong, but the battle is over the “free” stuff. Most people seem to have gotten at least half of their order.

            If I were BF, I’d make reparations due to what portion a person received. But then I’m not the CEO of either company…

          • Odinsgrandson

            Battlefront created a Backers Only update to their Kickstarter in which they tell their side.

            I has been reposted on Dakka for those interested. At the bottom of Page 21:


            Sum up- they believe that DUST Studios never produced the minis for wave 2, and they were waiting for him to produce them before paying him for the wave. (If we believe both sides, then this whole thing is like a Bartertown deal that fell apart because neither one wanted to ship first).

            They’re claiming some blame for this debacle, and offering to either partially refund money or give out 3x value product from the stock that they have to backers waiting on Wave 2.

          • BenitoSenence

            My email is I’ll forward it to you

          • See, this is the first time I’m hearing from Battlefront. That’s very interesting – I’m a little surprised that A. they owned up to some of the issues and B. it took them this long to give this side of the story. Good to finally hear from them.


    I’m confused by all of this. Isn’t Kickstarter for directly supporting the content creators instead of going through some kind of publisher? Why wasn’t this a “Dust Studio” project instead of a Battlefront project? Who would back a project for some publisher to pay a studio to make something? What was the original arrangement?

    Oh, I looked at the Kickstarter project. It is presented as a “Dust Studios” project, with Battlefront barely mentioned at all. They’re just listed in the risks section as helping with distribution. If that was really the case, the money should have gone to Dust Studios – the listed project owner – and then they should have paid Battlefront to do their part.

    If I contributed money to some video game studio and it turned out EA was secretly collecting the money behind the scenes, and it was a typical publisher/developer relationship, I’d be very upset.

    The project was deceptive from the beginning – making it look like you are pledging money directly to a studio, while it was really going somewhere else. Dust Studios was apparently willing to go along with this arrangement, at least until the deal went bad. No wonder they both look like liars now.

    • Odinsgrandson

      Yeah, I guess in a way it is similar to the way that CoolMiniorNot does so many Kickstarters as a publisher. But CMON is very up-front about the arrangement (the Kickstarters are run by CMON with a presence by the developer).

      I’m sure that Paolo went with Battlefront because they have distribution in game stores- that’s a big advantage in the long term.

      But I don’t know why the Kickstarter says that it is run by Dust Studios- it is very clear that Battlefront ran the Kickstarter (they can release their PR through Kickstarter updates, for example).

      • BoyWithToys

        Well, from what I see, the money went in the right place – that is, to produce the stuff.
        The stuff is now in the hands of Battlefront, that refuses to pay for it, asking instead money for some work that they may, or may have not done.
        By the way, having worked in publishing, if $ 100K is really the amount that BF is requesting, it is plain crazy. It is between 5 and 10 times the reasonable amount for any book, and that would include authorship fees too (something that is clearly NOT owed to BF).

  • Tragic. Frustrating. Ludicrous. I would have loved to hear some more details from Battlefront’s side of the argument, but they seemed very tight-lipped.