videogamedunkey, one of the most popular YouTubers within the gaming sphere, has announced his own publishing company for indie games.
The company, called Bigmode, was set up by Jason Gastrow (better known as dunkey) and his partner Leah.
Gastrow is known for his running gags, deadpan delivery and bizarre humour, whilst also being capable of producing excellent videos discussing games and the industry.
Gastrow has been outspoken in his love for indie games in particular, and in his announcement video for Bigmode cites it as the main reason behind the company’s creation.
“I have always sought out the very best indie games out there and have tried to do them justice,” Gastrow said, adding the team at Bigmode has “put a lot of effort into making the most developer-friendly contracts possible”. Gastrow concluded his video by encouraging developers to apply through Bigmode’s website, regardless of whether their project is a pitch or a finished product.
Some have said they look forward to seeing the games that will be published by Bigmode, trusting in Gastrow’s curation. For some devs, this fact brings some scepticism around the company’s intentions and potential actions in future.
Gastrow described Bigmode as “a harmonious continuation of my channel”, making some wary of what exactly that means.
Unless there’s a ton of money and actual experience behind the scenes, it seems the sole appeal here is getting featured on his channel. I’m not surprised to see a lot of insulted developers venting on here today
— Andy Robinson (@AndyPlaytonic) September 22, 2022
so if i’m getting this straight the main reason to publish with him is to be featured on his channel? like you can talk about your sense of professional responsibility but you just entered the realm of “sometimes i will promote games i have a financial stake in but trust me”
— Mixolumia 🔶 on Switch now! ✨ (@davemakes) September 22, 2022
Others have questioned whether Gastrow has the skills necessary to work in game development. The credentials Gastrow used to promote Bigmode consisted of his time as a critic on YouTube:
“These days I feel like I play nearly every game that comes out… I play so many games that my first name is ‘video game’, okay? I understand what kind of ideas always work, what ideas never work, what kind of ideas are fresh or need to come back and what is extremely played out.”
The statement has caused frustration among those with experience shipping a game, as it entails more than simply game curation.
hey man I respect Dunkey for trying to start a publishing business and wish him & his partner the best, but for fuck sake lads it’s 2022 – we gotta drop the naive shtick that having opinions on games is a qualification for understanding just about anything about development.
— danny o’dwyer (@dannyodwyer) September 22, 2022
If what a publisher has proven is money & a YouTube channel, assume the worst-case scenario for your business considerations: they might fuck up all of those & thus the game might never ship or not be supported right. So you should offset risk at the upfront: ask for more money.
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) September 22, 2022
Other devs are wishing Gastrow and his team well, acknowledging that the process of shipping a game can only be truly learnt by actually shipping a game.
i genuinely think dunkey has a good eye for fun design, and if he wants to throw money at indie devs, why not? sure they might hit some hard realities of making games but like… that’s how you learn.
— Noel Berry (@NoelFB) September 22, 2022
Mike Rose, previous critic at various sites including Kotaku and Gamasutra and now company director of publisher No More Robots, revealed he has been contacted by three different “huge” YouTubers looking for advice on starting their own publishing companies, which means we may see more internet personalities launching publishers soon.
Three different huge YouTubers (not Dunkey) asked for calls with me in the last 18 months, saying they are starting their own publisher, and could they get some advice
so pretty sure we’re about to see an influx of “I could do that” YouTubers having a pop at publishing
— Mike Rose (@RaveofRavendale) September 22, 2022