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Trouble in Vega+

Retro Computers Limited had some success with the ZX Spectrum Vega, which was an emulated machine in a ZX Spectrum style case with a directional pad and four keys. The machine came with several games–over 1,000 according to the press release–but you could also add games by putting them on to a SD card. Some gamers were not enamoured with the on-screen keyboard system, but it still managed to sell reasonably well. Moving on the back of the success of this, Retro Computers Limited started an Indiegogo campaign for the next generation of Vega. The new Vega+ machine was to be a handheld version and to no surprise, the campaign was a success, but many troubling events have surfaced since, threatening to derail the project.

The campaign raised over £513,650 in funds. That was 367% of what they asked for, so it seemed the project was funded on March 27, 2016. Once again, they went to Rick Dickinson for the design (the man who designed most of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum range) and all seemed to be hunky-dory. Buyers were keen to have a handheld version of the ZX Spectrum, as the only way to do it otherwise was to hack the firmware of consoles such as the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. This was not the easiest thing in the world to do and would invalidate any warranty you had.

However, delays happened in production. Issues such as problems with buttons were reported. Things that would seem easy. Release dates started to slip. People started to get angry, and things started to get very messy. People got very vocal on the World of Spectrum forums, causing many a headache for Lee Fogarty, who is now administrating the site, and who also happens to be involved with Retro Computers Limited. He was accused of collusion and much more.

Then came an internal issue when two directors, Paul Andrew and Chris Smith, actually left the company. They were accused of many things, including potential fraud. This is still an ongoing legal battle that may take some time. Paul Andrews has issued a statement to the effect that they were pushed out by the other two directors of the company and they have not received various fees. This has gone to the High Court and may go beyond.

Others have waded into the discussion and being very vocal on YouTube with opinions that the Vega+ will never appear. I will not list names; you can search them for yourself. However, Retro Computers Limited have said the Vega+ is still coming. Many issues have also being raised regarding payment for games, ratings, and so on. The release date has been changed several times and there is still no guaranteed date when it will arrive.

Many backers who have previously accepted the issues are now getting unsure. May this lead to a mass pull of backers and many refunds to be given? We shall see.

brianhedley

When not trying to run old machines to their limits, I occasionally write articles. As a man who has spent too long around retro machines, I have managed to play or try virtually every retro machine out there. Also quite a miserable sod who is known for strong opinions.

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2 Responses to “Trouble in Vega+”

  1. flobbydobby says:

    I’m not a backer of this project but I’ve been following the Indiegogo page with interest since around June last year. It very quickly became evident to me that Retro Computers Ltd were taking their backers for a ride. Deleting politely worded comments from certain backers who were just asking for updates/info (and then labelling them ‘trolls’) is simply not the behaviour of a credible organisation. Neither is personally accusing certain backers of slowing the project down, just because they made enquiries about lack of updates. They also categorically told one backer she would receive her Vega+ in time for Xmas, in the comments section. Also the whole ‘broken button’ issue reeked of stalling tactics, in my opinion.

    I hope this comes to fruition simply for the backers’ sakes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t. RCL have conducted the worst run crowdfunding campaign imaginable.

    • It is a shame that these crowdfunding success stories are quickly turning sour. This seems more prevalent as we go forward. Hopefully supporters will receive their product, as expected when they pledged, and we can move on from this fiasco.

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