Friday the 13th The Game developer Gun Media has found itself in the middle of controversy after giving press and content creators early access to its upcoming multiplayer horror game. Several members of the dev team have come forward to try to explain the situation, but nonetheless the community that helped bring the game into existence are now frustrated.
Under normal circumstances, providing press, streamers, and content creators with early access codes is par for the course in the industry. Developers and publishers do so to help generate buzz for their games, either by allowing viewers to see the game early or for publications to prepare reviews ahead of time. In the case of Friday the 13th, things are a little different.
As a Kickstarter funded project, Friday the 13th has a large number of backers that invested in the game back when it was just an idea, and who were promised codes upon release. These backers are now upset because they were not the first to get their hands on the game, and have been forced to watch some non-backers play early.
It’s a problem that has faced prior Kickstarter funded games, but in this case the fan base seems to be more vocal about their frustration. It could be that having streamers access the game early is the tipping point, but it’s hard to say. Whatever the case may be, Gun Media is aware of the growing backlash.
Gun Media’s Wes Keltner (read his forum post here) has tried his best to explain the situation to disappointed backers - explaining that handing out early codes is a way to generate buzz and hopefully encourage sales - but he doesn't seem to have calmed fans that much. Twitch has become a boon for smaller games, especially self-published ones, and it is a fantastic source of marketing, at the expense of a handful of early access codes.
Unfortunately, these early access codes may have hurt Gun Media’s standing against its most devoted fans that helped the game smash its goal and earn a single player campaign. Keltner’s explanation makes sense and ultimately he has to worry about the continued success of Friday the 13th beyond the Kickstarter campaign, but there is likely a lesson to be learned for future projects. It’s a unique conundrum that only exists in the crowdfunding space, but perhaps Friday the 13th may serve as a test case for how
Friday the 13th The Game releases May 26, 2017 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.