Dunkey said no more “weak games,” only good ones from now on. Enter Bigmode, the indie publishing company he and his wife Leah are founding. A popular YouTuber known for his comedic gaming videos and insightful video essays, videogamedunkey (a.k.a., Dunkey or Jason) is also renowned for hating turn-based RPGs and anime games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3. But now he’s taking his expertise into game publishing. The reactions are predictably all over the place.
Dunkey used to exclusively make videos about League of Legends, which he has been open about hating since he left it behind to go independent. His fanbase largely enjoys his balance of analysis and comedy, cementing his reputation as a trustworthy gaming critic.
He’s spent over a decade highlighting games and topics he thinks are worth talking about. However, skeptics wonder if that’s enough to succeed as a game publisher. So what do we even know about Bigmode?
What happened — Dunkey announced Bigmode Wednesday night with a YouTube video on his channel. It starts with him reminiscing about his and Leah’s last PAX experience and how happy he was to experience upcoming games in person. Then, he ties it back into his qualifications and aspirations with Bigmode.
“I’ve been on YouTube for 11 years now and one of the core themes of my channel has always been to slam dunk soulless cash grabs into the garbage can and lift up and praise the truly inspired works of art in this medium,” Dunkey said in his video. “I have always sought out the very best indie games out there and have tried to do them justice, putting millions of eyes on the games that actually deserve attention.”
These games include Neon White, Celeste, Hades, Cuphead, and many other indies that gaming publications have also endorsed. However, it is true that Dunkey’s videos for these indies and his yearly roundups bring millions of viewers to the table. These games are certified bangers that Dunkey has taken the time to critique on his channel and therefore spotlight.
Dunkey pitches Bigmode as a publisher that endorses indie games “actually worth playing.” If you’re a big Dunkey fan, you can look forward to a curated catalog of indies with his stamp of approval. If you’re not, then you’re probably better off waiting for Persona 6 like the rest of us weebs.
What the fans think — His fans largely support the new company, congratulating him on the launch. These aren’t just yes-men either. A variety of fans from actual professionals to longtime viewers have voiced their support for the content creator gone businessman.
“I appreciate anyone who commits time, dedication, and resources to the future and betterment of the industry,” said one Dunkey fan on his channel. “As a game developer myself, thank you Dunkey for using your platform in this way.”
Fellow YouTuber SkillUp also had a positive view of the announcement. “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 said. “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 godspeeed.”
“He didn't have the best tone or talking points in that announcement, but bottom line is he's passionate and he wants to help the indie scene, and I think that's what matters most.”
Here come the critics — Skeptic talking points range from “Dunkey isn’t qualified to do this” to “video game publishing is a complex business that doesn’t always pan out the way you planned.” It boils down to viewers’ opinions of Dunkey’s qualifications to how the fickle the field is already.
“lol dunkey starting a publishing company with the ethos ‘i have played so many games i know what makes them good and bad so i will only publish good ones’ about to learn some stuff the hard way,” one indie game developer wrote on Twitter.
Many other reactions seem to partially support the idea but encourage people to invest with a healthy amount of skepticism. “Listen, I'll support anyone who wants to publish throw money at indie games,” said developer Rami Ismail, “but indies, if you're going to take a deal from someone whose publishing qualifications are ‘I played lots of games’ make sure your upfront is 130%+ of a well-paid, comfortable budget.”
Bigmode’s website is already live with instructions on how to contact Dunkey and Leah with pitches and resumes. Both of them have already taken the time to thank fans for the overwhelming support for their announcement.
Dunkey also had this to say at the end of the Bigmode announcement video:
“We’re not not aiming for bronze medals, we’re going for the gold. So if you’re going to work then hit me up at Bigmooode.”