YouTuber videogamedunkey is starting a new venture: creating a game studio. Dunkey and his wife, Leahbee, have formed BIGMODE Games, a game publishing company focused on providing “A passionate voice for quality, originality and fun in indie games.” I am beyond happy that Dunkey, who has showcased indie games on his channel for decades, is continuing to use his massive platform to promote, publicize and develop high-quality, passion-filled games.
In the announcement video for BIGMODE, Dunkey mentions that one of the core themes of his 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.” The video game industry has, unfortunately, become saturated with hollow husks of games-that-could-have-been and yearly franchises that deliver the same exact content each year.
Cyberpunk 2077, for example, came out filled with bugs and was clearly rushed out the door in a laughable attempt to turn a profit. On release, the game had performance problems on PC, missing NPCs (non-player characters) and crashes on console editions. Although the game has improved, it was so bad on launch that Sony pulled Cyberpunk from its online store and issued full refunds to customers who bought the game.
Then, there’s games that come out yearly like Madden. These games are almost exactly the same every year, with only minor differences between different versions. One forum comment said it best: “With the exclusive rights, there’s no competition [and] therefore no effort is really needed, especially when people still buy the product anyways.” With no real competition in the area, EA and other sports-game companies like it get complacent. Take a look at the attached picture. Other than Cam Newton’s haircut, do you really see a difference between these two games’ graphics in this picture?
Don’t even get me started on the Pokémon series. Year after year, Gamefreak slaps a new coat of paint on the same ’mons, cobbles together an incoherent story and releases it to the public. The worst part is that I’ve bought a few of these games. I loved the nostalgia that I got from Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, but it’s still the same game they released nearly two decades ago. I won’t be buying another one of these games unless they release something truly innovative (Dynamaxing is not innovative and neither is the new Grand Underground).
The lack of innovation that big companies like Gamefreak and EA show with every release is appalling. But, people still buy their mediocre products so they have no reason to create new experiences.
Indie games, on the other hand, can provide dozens of hours of truly unique gameplay to players. Celeste, for example, is an incredible 2D platformer. It’s challenging but fair, graphically stunning and has some of the best music I’ve ever heard on its soundtrack. Enter The Gungeon is, as the name suggests, a gun-themed dungeon crawler. It’s just so much fun; you use peashooters that literally shoot peas, a bullet that fires guns, a “Cold .45” that’s like a Colt .45 but it’s cold, and so many more goofy weapons that were all clearly made with care and passion. Both of these games have an unbelievable level of polish and love put into every pixel, and if you haven’t played them you are missing out.
That’s where Dunkey comes in: His videos are what inspired me to play those games. He’s always stuck up for the little guys in the gaming industry, and I think that BIGMODE Games is another foothold for indie developers to get their games the attention they deserve.
BIGMODE’s website says that Dunkey and Leah “love and deeply care about games, as well as artists and creatives in general. Bigmode is [their] way to foster and support those who are putting the effort and love into their projects to create the best they can— to give them the spotlight they deserve and see more of what we love in gaming.” I’m thrilled to see this description, because that’s exactly what the gaming industry needs: People who are passionate about playing video games, not massive corporations looking to exploit a fast-growing market for every penny they’ve got.
Their website mentions that BIGMODE is meant to be a “unique & powerful way for great indie games to stand out in a crowded space, and our publishing contracts are designed to be the most developer-friendly possible.” Dunkey and Leah’s BIGMODE appear to be the perfect publisher: it has a charismatic frontman who knows the gaming industry inside and out and both founders are clearly passionate about good gaming experiences. I’m so happy to see that BIGMODE has come into existence, and I hope that this noble venture finds success.