A number of British developers who coded games in the 1980s for the 8-bit ZX Spectrum home computer have been complaining about Elite Systems Ltd, alleging it had not made royalty payments due to them.
The Lichfield, England-based outfit is run by Steve Wilcox, who describes himself as a producer for the firm, which - according to its most recent Companies House records - was saddled with debt owed to creditors to the tune of £81,388 for the year ended September 2012.
Wilcox has been raising money, via a Kickstarter campaign, to build funds for a Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard.
At the time of writing, he had pulled in £65,430 from 830 backers*. However, some people are demanding a refund after hearing concerns expressed by a handful of developers who claim not to have received a single penny of royalties from Wilcox.
It's understood that Wilcox, 44, approached ZX Spectrum game coders to ink contracts with them on a non-exclusive basis to pay licences in order to use their software.
Dynamite Dan I & II developer Rod Bowkett told The Register that he had no response from Wilcox since he agreed to the licence deal. Royalties have gone unpaid for successive quarters, he claimed.
Bowkett added that the royalties themselves amounted to "peanuts" but alleged that Wilcox was in breach of contract for failing to make the payments.
The developer also discovered that others within the ZX Spectrum community were also claiming to have been frozen out of royalty payments from Elite Systems Ltd, despite the company selling their retro-style games via Apple's App Store and the Windows Store, for example.
Bowkett estimated that the total amount owed to all of the devs collectively is probably around the £10,000 mark. He said that his chief complaint was not related to the unpaid royalties, however.
His concern is with investors in Wilcox's bid to build a cash pile for his supposed Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard plans.
And the clock is ticking.
Wilcox's Kickstarter - at time of writing - has six hours left for people to pledge money.
"The investors are like lemmings running straight for the cliff edge," Bowkett claimed.
El Reg has sought comment from Wilcox via email messages, a call to Elite Systems Ltd's landline and a voicemail left on his mobile phone.
However, Wilcox had not been in touch to defend himself against the accusations at time of writing. His company claimed on its Kickstarter page that a statement will be coming soon. ®
*Kickstarter Ts&Cs state:
Backers ... may not cancel or reduce their pledge if the campaign is in its final 24 hours and the cancellation or reduction would drop the campaign below its goal.