Pay to Win: Spirittea’s Promotional Controversy

Following the release of Spirittea, the Stardew Valley meets Spirited Away management sim, a publisher’s comments have attracted controversy after criticizing the game’s lack of YouTube coverage after refusing to pay promoters and influencers.

Despite its modest success in achieving 1 million sales within its first week, No More Robots publisher Mike Rose’s Twitter tweet derails Spirittea’s poor turnout on Steam, stating that “Xbox and Switch account for 80% of the revenue.”

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Mike then goes on to offhandedly blame YouTubers for Spirittea’s poor sales, claiming that “we got absolutely zero YouTube coverage *at all*” and though plenty of YouTubers were willing to make videos on the game, they asked for money, which Mike claimed felt “weird, icky, and disingenuous.”

After another profanity-laced remark questioning “what could we have achieved if I did pay some people,” Mike’s Tweet attracted massive criticism from content creators, as Dextro details commentators derailing Mike for ignoring and devaluing creators that had covered Spirittea or wanted to be compensated for their time.

Do Indies Need Paid Promotion?

To be fair, given the shoestring budget indie developers may be working with, it’s hard to fault indie games for being unwilling or unable to promote their titles with YouTubers.

Plenty of content creators make videos, music, animatics, and write fanfiction for video games as passion projects, and having content creators only cover a game because they were paid to can essentially confirm their bias towards not caring for a game’s genuine merit.

Even so, Mike’s statements ignore the value of content creators, essentially stating that people shouldn’t be compensated for their time, regardless of the many hours of painstaking effort that can go into script writing, recording, and editing content.

Furthermore, in Mikes’s case, plenty of people did cover Spirittea, with one commentator from the Cozy Gaming Club tweeting that they spent “over 30 hours making a YouTube video that received 12k views” and “a Tiktok with over 180k views,” and content creator 2 LeftThumbs tweeting that Spirittea had videos with 100,000s of views months before release.

Frankly, between devaluing content creators and ignoring preexisting creators’ coverage of the game, it’s hard to sympathize with Mike’s perceived victimhood, especially given the game’s aforementioned million-dollar success.

While it’s easy to appreciate creators making content out of pure passion and drive, claiming that they shouldn’t be paid is callous and unrealistic, essentially stating that such content is worthless and not worth making.

A Spoiled Glass of Spirittea

While Mike has since retracted his remarks, DualShockers notes, stating that he “completely missed the mark” and “absolutely values the work that YouTubers and content creators do,” his previous comment has since generated a poor perception of Spirittea among the community.

Even as some have stressed that the developer, The Cheese Master, is not responsible for Rose’s comments and shouldn’t be punished, many in the Twitter thread are already disgusted with Spirittea’s treatment of content creation and refuse to engage with the game out of solidarity with creators.

Between decrying the post’s mix of bragging about achieving $1 million and their appeal to victimhood, it’s hard to imagine Spirittea’s sales going unaffected by Rose’s tweet.

All-in-all, indie publishers must learn to attach greater value to content creation and either spend money promoting their titles or appreciate what content they freely receive to avoid alienating their fans and sources of near limitless promotion.

Hopefully, with this lesson in mind, indie developers can enjoy their happy union with creators, supplying fans with unending content to supplement a game’s music, story, and setting.

Who knows what horrible fate would befall us lest we be deprived of our spicy fanfics, serious analysis videos, and Lofi 20-hour Hollow Knight tracks with rain sounds forevermore.

Discover the Enigmatic World of Hollow Knight | GOG

Immerse yourself in the hauntingly beautiful world of "Hollow Knight," where every step unveils secrets and challenges waiting to be conquered. With its captivating art style and intricate gameplay, embark on an epic journey filled with mystery, danger, and discovery unlike any other.

Check Price
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

More on Spirittea and Stardew Valley to come; thanks for reading.

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