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Creator-owned media company One True King (OTK) has launching its own publishing label, Mad Mushroom at its second annual OTK Games Expo. Through its gaming personalities and crossover content, Mad Mushroom will give indie game developers unrivaled visibility.
While some creators have branched out into both game development and publishing, they have typically been launched by a single personality. In contrast, Mad Mushroom has access to several prominent creators and their 38 million cross-platform social followers.
While the company has not yet signed its first developer agreement, executives indicated that they are close to inking their first deal. The company plans to hire 10-15 employees initially and scale up as their slate of games expands.
Mad Mushroom’s creator advantage
Unlike other publishers, Mad Mushroom has the advantage of working with several of the most prominent gaming personalities. Streamers have propelled games like Among Us and Dark and Darker from obscurity into the spotlight.
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Mad Mushroom plans to give creators a voice early in development to help games resonate with viewers. Signed developers will have access to prominent and creators from several genres to get variety of perspectives.
In fact, creating games that appeal to its streamers is the central philosophy of Mad Mushroom. There are no plans to specialize in a particular genre. Instead, Mad Mushroom is prioritizing replaybility, audience participation and games that create engaging content, on top of commercial viability. Additionally, developers with a unique story or background are a plus.
Compared to other publishers, Mad Mushroom is uniquely positioned due to its relationship with these creators.
“Since the death of retail, the value and importance of marketing has skyrocketed for developers, especially indies. One of the most expensive aspects of this is influencer marketing,” said Tips Out, co-owner, founder and CEO, OTK. “Having a team of creators that will play games at reduced or zero cost gives us a leg up against other publishers. It allows us to invest the money we would have allocated for influencer marketing to other different types of marketing.”
OTK has launched other related businesses that will also take advantage of this flywheel. OTK launched its PC line Starforge Systems in 2022 and its Mythic Talent agency earlier this year.
“The vertical integration of OTK makes us extremely effective. We have streamers to market PCs and now we’ll also have games to promote. It’s a natural addition to our umbrella,” said Zack “Asmongold” Hoyt, co-owner and founder, OTK.
In addition to the business advantages, the relationship between these creators and their audiences is valuable to Mad Mushroom. This personal touch and will help Mad Mushroom build a deeper relationship with fans.
“It’s empowering for the community at large because feedback will get to the developers quickly. The community wants developers to listen and we can act as a conduit for that to happen. It’s a huge advantage for us,” Asmongold added.
As a creator collective, OTK understands that building a strong relationship with its audience underpins its operations. Of course, maintaining this trust is paramount for both OTK and Mad Mushroom. As such, the publisher is looking to create mutually beneficial agreements between itself and indie developers.
“Historically, publisher deals with developer have been somewhat predatory, especially when it comes to smaller indie devs. A lot of modern-day publishers take IP rights and have unfavorable revenue shares between the developer and publisher,” said Tips Out. “We know we can put a spotlight on our games and that gives us a massive advantage. We have the luxury of being able to give that freedom and flexibility back to developers. Also, we’re all public figures. If we’re not giving people good deals, it’s going to come back to haunt us.”
Part of this is creating revenue splits that are “aggressively” in favor of the developer and a commitment to transparency. The company plans to make its standard agreement available to the public soon. While the details are still being hashed out, Mad Mushroom executives indicated that the revenue split could be as high at 70% in favor of the developer.
“Our goal with our publishing agreements is to give more freedom to the developers. We don’t want to touch their creative vision. We don’t want to touch their IP. As content creators ourselves, we know how sensitive that is,” said Tips Out.
The future of publishing
As the gaming market rapidly evolves, organizations like OTK and Mad Mushroom are disrupting the standard publishing model. Of course, Mad Mushroom will still fulfill the typical responsibilities of a publisher like distribution, localization, live operations support and more. However, the publisher’s transparency, built-in distribution and forward-thinking strategy will make it an attractive option for indie developers.
“The future of publishing is amplifying the creativity of developers and figuring out your secret sauce. No two publishers are the same. OTK and Mad Mushroom have found not just their secret sauce, but the way to infuse that into what publishing has to be based off where the gaming industry is going,” said Mike “Sibs” Silbowitz, advisor for Mad Mushroom.
Instead of publishers calling the shots and developers executing, Mad Mushroom’s goal is creating mutually beneficial partnerships between developers, publishers, fans and creators. Given recent controversy, OTK’s move to diversify its operations and support grassroots talent is more important than ever.
“At OTK, we don’t see the industry as a zero sum game. When another gaming organization wins, so do we,” said Zachary Diaz, chief strategy officer of OTK. “I wish more people in our space would take this view that we can all rise together.”
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