Rockfish Games released their single-player focused, 3D space-shooter Everspace back in May 2017 for Windows PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Since then the team has been consistently updating the game, as well as trying to get more exposure for the title in an increasingly-crowded space-shooter market.
They’ve hit some stumbling blocks though over the last few months when it comes to finding popular content producers to make content around their game. Let the following story serve as a warning to game developers and marketers out there, do your homework before signing these kinds of deals.
Rockfish Games’ co-founder Michael Schade talked to various gaming outlets about the experiences the company has had dealing with paid promotion for their games.
Speaking at the Reboot Develop conference, Schade spoke candidly about the warnings one should heed in this new landscape of streamers, influencers and paid promotion.
Schade pointed out that most of the people they hired to hype the game were terrible at it.
“The rest was OK, or a disaster. Streamers are way more expensive,” he noted. “The most expensive stream, we paid 5,000 (euros) per hour and we had to book him for two hours. Actually his opening line was ‘I have to stop playing Destiny 2 now because I’m on a sponsored stream to play a space game and I don’t like space games’.
It’s being alleged in the mess following this story that the huge fee comprised what was paid to an agency involved. They then used part of that money to hire another group, who then linked them with the allegedly problematic streamer. So when combined with related information, this whole batch of drama is making everyone involved look a bit bad.
The CEO of Online Performers Group, one of the companies involved, called the whole deal “Definitely one of the worst experiences I’ve had in this industry.”. YIKES! It’s starting to sound like Fyre Festival for video games up in here.
Let’s be real here, there’s a lot of moving parts in deals like this that can go horribly wrong. Schade places a lot of blame on the agencies that helped ink the deal and picked the influencers. A bit of due diligence on the part of these folks could have probably picked some more targeted streamers who would have actually had fun with Everspace. Or Rockfish could have given a longer timeframe so that streamers could prep. This is one of those situations that just went bad from the start for a variety of reasons.
Now you might be thinking that the developer should’ve skipped an agency and done the work themselves, this isn’t the best idea. The reason for that comes down to sheer volume. There are hundreds of thousands of active Twitch streamers with growing audiences, with many times more other content creators spread across the internet. There’s no reliable way to pick through all of that and select the best people to work with, unless you’re willing to spend time and money doing the scut work. Rockfish Games is well aware of this fact, and was banking on the hired agency to take care of the legwork. The problem is that it appears the agency wasn’t thorough enough in their selection process for who to pitch the offer to. According to staff at the agency that handled the deal, the whole thing was rushed and they didn’t have time to do the groundwork they wanted to do.
There is some criticism to be laid at the feet of Rockfish Games as well. According to the streamer in question, the dev mishandled aspects of the sponsorship. He claims that they didn’t pay what was promised, and that he had no prep time before the sponsored stream itself.
All in all, this whole cluster of fail should serve as one big lesson for how not to handle paid promotion from multiple angles. Let this be a lesson to content creators too, do some homework on a deal before you accept it. If it’s not something you like or personally believe in, don’t sign the contract.
What do you think?