I’m posting on behalf of a friend of my daughter who’s not huge in the YT/Twitch community but quite well known in the genre he covers. I don’t want to mention the game but let’s just say it was not up to expectations and this young man was expressing his concerns about it during its pre-release hype.
Not only was he blackballed on review code (fine, I guess this is industry standard?) but now that PR person is… at best lazy? At worst being malicious. The person is a contractor and represents several smaller developers in the genre. He - supposedly - has a reputation for being lazy to begin with, but the streamer in question is convinced he’s being punished for comments made about game X from publisher Y by being excluded from content on games A, B, C, etc. from completely different publishers.
I’ve reviewed some of this kid’s content and while critical, I don’t think he was being especially unfair even given the context of the preview material. He did seem to highlight a lot of pre-release comments by employees who spoke out, but not, I think, to an excessive degree.
He just wants access to the indie devs/publishers the rep represents in Canada, he doesn’t want to start a fight with him.
Sorry if I’m stirring up drama.
edit: I’m leaving out some of the dramaramatic personal comments exchanged by DM between the two.
Oh this is a thousand percent a thing that happens.
Not sure if there’s much recourse for the independent streamer person other than to build an audience big enough that it’s more trouble for the PR person to not be getting coverage on their channel than they get satisfaction from blacklisting/slow-rolling them.
The independent streamer person can always try to go around the PR flak by reaching out to devs directly on Twitter or wherever, but that can backfire. They pay the PR flak to do this stuff so they don’t have to.
Also, if the streamer is small enough, they’re probably just boned. “Influencers working on building their audience” are a dime a dozen, and this kind of thing can often look an awful lot like someone just fishing for codes even if the gripe is legit and in good faith.
If I were him I would absolutely contact the independent developers on his own and tell them how the PR rep is lazy, how it’s a known thing, and how he is doing them more harm than good… at best wasting their money. If they want to make it in game development, that’s counterproductive to their goals.
They deserve that at least.
And forgive me if I want to stay as discreet as possible re: the genre.
Everyone else, thank you. Before I pass on the advice, any suggestions on how would this streamer discuss these issues without causing unnecessary drama? How does he explain why he’s not talking to the PR rep?
More serious answer because social media controversies disgust me even more than social media:
If he wants early access, I think I’d try to work with another streamer or something to sneak his way in. If someone calls him out, that’s a great way to broach the subject.
If he wants review copies, he should simply buy the games himself. The time he wastes on it is probably spent more profitably growing his channel.
If he wants PR access for interviews or such, what I’d do is make a video where he posts questions and then cuts to a caricature of a PR flack stonewalling him. That would be creative and amusing, so at least some value would come from this whole… situation.
Personally I would forget about it and focus on growing my streamer channel through good content and delivering value to my audience. Why waste time chasing some free games , some preview code and a perceived injustice? Spend that energy on being entertaining and interesting for your own channel instead.
Once you get a few million subscribers that PR persons opinions will be irrelevant because developers will want access to your audience, not the other way around.
But if you really want access restored then its easy. Forget justice, forget pride, write the person, admit complete wrong doing and that it was clickbait and you wont unfairly trash a preview game again.
This is a professional relationship. Nobody needs to make up or hug it out. Just admit fault whether you were at fault or not and get what you want.
If you are not willing to swallow your pride or believe the ethical issues are so severe you cannot compromise, then stick to your guns focus on your craft and do my first suggestion.
Yeah, if you’re small enough where that’s an issue, you just have to pound sand like any other unproven worker, especially in a crowded field. It sucks, but at least he/she can focus on whatever part of the job she likes.
And, yes, being fairly, but still negatively critical is a potential career problem. It sucks too. But that also tends to bury coverage of a game as “influencers” don’t want to deal with it and just won’t cover “bad” games, so have hope. :)
I can see directly writing the developer might make sense if you can make a clear statement that can’t be misinterpreted or misrepresented, more and more so the lower on the ladder you are, but it’s a risk that seems too high for who she/he is and what the disagreement is over.
As a gaming PR person myself, the thing I think about when deciding about whether I should give someone a free copy of a game is if he or she has been unfair in his/her criticism. Well-reasoned critiques are fine - good even. Constructive feedback can lead to good outcomes.
But if someone is bagging on my game unfairly - maybe he or she hates the genre, or the subject matter, or US - is not cool and I don’t feel like I’m under any obligation to give everyone who asks a free copy of my game. Especially in a world where anyone can call him/herself an “influencer.”
But others are correct that if you’re big enough you’re going to get what you want almost no matter what you say or do.
So there’s a lot of good guidance here, but maybe the best guidance would be not to sweat it and pick a different set of games to play.
There’s nothing stopping you from reaching out directly to game developers for interviews and stuff. You don’t have to go through PR people unless you get shunted in their direction. And yes, being popular helps. But you can still be huge and get frozen out for telling the truth (See: Kotaku; Tom Chick.) (Also, telling someone to “just become hugely successful and they’ll need you!” is like when your mom says, “You’re funny, have you ever thought about being on SNL?”)
My concern is for the developers honestly. If there’s a sloppy, lazy, awful PR person that represents several of them, it’s going to make it that much harder to get noticed and make it in the indie development field. They may not even realize what’s going on behind the scenes with him. It’s brutal already without the people working for you, in essence working against you.