Photo by: Bigmode
Gastrow (Dunkey) is known online for his video game content on YouTube, which is generally either a review, a joke or both. While he has given his insight on the video game industry before, this is his first step into the world of video game production.
So far, little is known about the people behind Bigmode, other than the fact that it will be run by Dunkey and his wife Leah “Leahbee” Gastrow. Given Dunkey’s status in the online gaming community, it’s likely that he is in contact with people who could help and advise him, though he has made no mention of them so far.
In the past, Dunkey has spoken out against predatory practices in the gaming industry, such as when Microsoft forced third-party developers to charge for content that other systems received for free. In his announcement, Dunkey claims that he will retain his focus on consumer-friendly practices in the games he publishes. This is noticeable in Bigmode’s current stance against crypto-based games, a notoriously predatory model of video games.
The general reception towards this announcement has been mixed. Several people felt that Dunkey’s claim of, “I’ve played many games, and understand which trends are good and which ones are bad” is not sufficient grounds for a competent publisher. One of these people is Danny O’Dwyer, founder of the video game documentary company Noclip.
“I respect Dunkey for trying to start a publishing business and wish him & his partner the best,” he posted on Twitter following Dunkey’s announcement. “but… we gotta drop the naive shtick that having opinions on games is a qualification for understanding just about anything about development.”
Similarly, indie developer Dave Hoffman posted their concerns regarding Dunkey running a publishing company, with a large focus on his claim to only publish the best games. They listed the various challenges he would face at various points of the development timeline, and said that the announcement showed no signs of addressing those challenges:
“The biggest red flag with Dunkey’s announcement isn’t that he can’t provide those things, it’s that he hasn’t even demonstrated an awareness that he should,” reads their Twitter thread. “If it had been ‘Here are the people we’re working with, here are the services we’re providing, here are the great projects we’ve got lined up’ then I would be hyped. But what we saw looked more like a pipe dream than anything real.”
Others have more faith in Dunkey’s promises, though. Ralph, the spokesperson for YouTube channel Skill Up, mentioned that he felt that Bigmode has potential.
“If Dunkey’s indie label results in as little as a single indie game getting out the door that otherwise wouldn’t have then it’s a success,” he writes. “I support any content creator who wants to use their resources and reach to help grow the indie scene, so I say good luck and godspeed.”
Some also defended Dunkey’s argument, claiming that his taste is a large indicator of a game’s quality to them.
“I bought Inscription and Hades because Dunkey made it look great…” writes Leroy Patterson, senior editor at GIPHY. “Is he the main reason, no. Did he help, sure!”
It’s unclear when the next big update about Bigmode will be released, as no new information has come out since the initial announcement. Hopefully, Dunkey and his associates can assuage critics’ concerns and show developers and gamers alike that Bigmode is a big deal.