The one time a game dev doesn’t want a YouTuber attention
I sometimes wonder how I’d react if a YouTube celebrity would pick one of my games and bash on it for 30 minutes as entertainment value for his public. Apparently there’s no such thing as bad publicity but that’s the kind I’d rather avoid receiving anyway.
The good news is that the chances of that happening are pretty low. YouTubers are flooded with Steam keys so they end up covering a tiny percentage of the stuff they receive and I like to think that I haven’t released anything extraordinary awful so it’d be hardly worth the effort to destroy it. It’s still something that could happen however.
While game devs experience harsh criticism on a regular basis (sometimes completely unrelated to the games they release) it’s usually from faceless people without a crowd behind them. It’s something you get used to and end up accepting as just a consequence from releasing stuff you created. This just comes with the job and you can’t make a big deal out of it otherwise you won’t last long.
When someone with a few thousands (or maybe even million) followers is the source of a very negative critic (sincere or simply for the “fun” factor) I can imagine this being a bit different. You can handle pebbles getting thrown at you from time to time but receiving a ten tons boulder in the face might be a different matter.
The worst thing you can do as a dev is to pile on it. You then stop being a game dev and become that target anyone will have fun aiming at. There’s this weird case where a game studio is trying to sue people over hash criticism and in which a youtuber is also involved (http://www.polygon.com/2016/9/17/12951756/digital-homicide-lawsuit-jim-sterling-steam-users-valve). As a result the games of this studio have been taken down by Steam. I honestly cannot see any way this thing might end positively for the devs.
As an outsider to this story it’s easy for me to make judgments but I wonder if at some point even the most reasonable person might have something snap in his mind when going through such situation. Was the abuse so bad or is it a case about someone with a short fuse?
Another example is what followed when PewDiePie turned his attention to Bear Simulator (http://kotaku.com/successful-100-000-kickstarter-dev-calls-it-quits-due-1763162848). Yeah, I must say that my first reaction when checking this game isn’t very positive and can see how it might act as a honey pot attracting negative attention. There might be a fair argument to make against the game but watching PewDiePie’s video it looks more like a public humiliation and a show for his followers than a fair but harsh review. Then came the ten tons boulder in the face…
Something that was brought forward was “well, you got $100,000 through Kickstarter so it’s open season, what did you expect”. I’m pretty sure this solo dev didn’t expect to get that kind of money on Kickstarter but when he did he already involuntarily lost control over the whole thing. It became a curiosity that everyone would take some time to add their grain of salt to.
I sometimes “joke” that I’d be fine with any kind of abuse if I was making $100,000 out of it but truth be told, I have no idea how I would actually react. I doubt I’d be “that” fine with it even by sitting on a pile of money. The “scary” thing though is that I already a foot in the bear trap…
I released games for years, made money out of them, post my thoughts on a blog and now I’m talking about the pressure one can get from a youtube celebrity. In some twisted logic it’s almost as if I’m asking to be the next target. I always thought I was simply trying to be my own boss but now it’s possible I wake up some day owing something to the world for doing this.
I’m actually fine doing my small thing mostly unknown and making a salary out of it (not that it’s easy, it’s pretty hard to be relatively unknown and make a living) but it’s not how it works. You can’t really predict how things will go and you might “accidentally” release a hit (I hope you’re reading this with a smile here…) that will suddenly give you more a bit more attention than you were prepared for.
I’ve seen a few successful people remain quiet following the announcement of the reviews changes on Steam. Maybe it’s because they don’t care or are fine with the situation. Or maybe they know what they say will be scrutinized and they really don’t feel like wasting time in a debate that wouldn’t do much good to them in the end.
Some very vocal persons appear just fine dealing with a lot of attention and heat. I wonder how I’d react if I was put in such position. My guess is that if one day I become very successful you might see that I won’t post much on this blog beside to talk about my projects. Not that I might think I don’t need to try so hard anymore to “get out there” but because I might think it’s the best way for me to handle everything that might come my way.