Lets say i'm a video game developer, and I am coming out with a hot new game called 'X'. The time it takes to produce X is years and years. Through those years, I spent a month to take a break making game 'Y'. Y is a complete game. Can I say to potential customers of X, that "hey, Y is out, and you can buy that to support me, and support the continued creation of X".

I personally don't think it should be illegal, because it's true... but i'm not sure that's how the law works so that's why i'm asking here. Thanks!

ps. this is just an example... and just broadly speaking, I am asking if it is evidently illegal or not.

  • 1
    What part of that are you concerned about being illegal?
    – Putvi
    Apr 10, 2019 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


That is entirely lawful. The law only sanctions advertisements that are deliberately deceptive, such as the practices listed in this statute.

One of the prima facie elements of fraud, unjust enrichment, or related torts, is that your representation of working on game X be knowingly false (which you mention it is not).

Most important, the circumstances may support the reasonable conclusion that the funds you receive are first and foremost for the video game you are actually providing in that transaction (game Y). In other words, the promise of releasing game X sometime in the future is not really what prompts customers to pay you.

  • 1
    This answer oversimplifies and ignores some possible grounds for liability.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 11, 2019 at 0:03
  • 1
    @ohwilleke It is interesting how you have to prejudice with "This answer oversimplifies and ignores some possible grounds for liability" but next thing you do is post a lengthy, repetitive answer that goes in circles with the notion of "liability for making statements that are knowingly false". That's what 90% of your repetitive answer does, whereas I was able to develop the notion of "deliberate falsehood" with two short paragraphs (link to statutory law included) and I did not feel the need to prejudice others just for the sake of it. Apr 11, 2019 at 10:16

Under U.S. law, this is only actionable is you make this statement knowing that it would not "support the continued creation of X" and that instead, you had already completely abandoned that product and you were, for example, planning to change lines of work and become a lumberjack instead.

Even in that case, common law fraud is hard to show, because you would need to show how that statement which related to how the profits will be used, rather than what you are actually receiving, could cause you damages in that narrow transaction.

But, many states have deceptive trade practices acts that protect consumers by allowing the attorney general, local prosecutor, or a private individual or class of plaintiffs to sue if representations such as these are made when they are known to be false. Typically, these lawsuits provide for minimum statutory damages, attorneys' fees award, and when cases are brought by a public official, injunctive relief (ordering the advertising with that pitch to cease) are authorized. For example, saying this when it is false would be actionable in California and Colorado.

A fairly common fact pattern is that someone will sell stuff at an above market price saying that "profits will help me pay for my cancer treatments" when in fact the person doesn't have cancer. This could even constitute criminal wire and mail fraud, for example.

Sometimes, competitors can also sue you under the Lanham Act (which primarily governs federal trademarks), for false advertising about something that could unfairly undermine their sales if what you are saying isn't true and is causing their sales to drop.

On the other hand, if you sincerely believe that what you are saying is true when you say it, and your belief is not so unreasonable that no reasonable person could believe that under the circumstances, then what you are saying is legal. Usually this is true, and if it is, ultimately, you will be fine. Although nothing can prevent you from being sued on a non-meritorious basis.

In between are cases where this is true (you will be supported, but perhaps only get 5% of the profits while the rest are garnished for a lawsuit), but your statements were still misleading at the time you made them and you knew it. Those cases get resolved on a case by case basis.

Outside U.S. law, your mileage may vary. Legal regulation of commercial speech varies significantly from one country to another. These statements might not be O.K. for example in a Communist regime on the Chinese or Korean model.

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