In an engaging and in-depth interview with OTK Media, Inc.'s Tips Out, the streaming organization's CEO delved into the rapidly evolving gaming landscape, OTK's commendable journey, and the unveiling of their exciting new venture - Mad Mushroom. Riding high on the success of the 2023 OTK Games Expo, Tips Out revealed the impressive strides made in this year's show, all of which reflect OTK's unwavering commitment to indie developers and the gaming community at large. He also discussed the growth of OTK, the future direction he sees for the company, and the landscape of the gaming space in the current uncertain financial climate.
Thanks so much for speaking, Tips! To start, regarding your impressions of the Games Expo in 2023, what major improvements do you see compared to last year?
When it came to soliciting applications and generating game developer interest in the show, we spent a significant amount of time over the past year reaching out proactively to different indie developer communities and involving them in the show beforehand. At the same time, for the live production, we're featuring many more games. Last year, we showcased 38 games, while this year, we're showing 60. We've improved the scope of the show, keeping it tight, fluid, and giving enough time to spotlight each developer. The show this year has more content, more games being featured, which is exciting. We've worked with many more developers in the lead-up to the show.
Regarding the event itself, many creators, like Mizkif, have mentioned it's not particularly profitable. What's the big motivation for keeping Games Expo as a main part of OTK's event portfolio?
All of us at OTK are gamers at heart. We got into content creation and covering video games out of love. This has been the dream career for many of us. Any opportunity to engage more with the game developer community, particularly with indie devs who may not have the same opportunities as some of the larger AAA developers, is something we eagerly embrace. The Games Expo for us is an extension of our love for gaming, especially indie developers who, over the past couple of years, have brought forth incredible titles and unforgettable experiences. Any opportunity to get involved with them and elevate them is something we'd seize.
One of the most exciting announcements from the event was the announcement of Mad Mushroom. Could you share the initial rundown for the creation of this latest venture?
Every gaming influencer begins as a gamer, and every gamer dreams of becoming a game developer. We enjoy criticizing games and giving our thoughts and feedback. This fantasy of participating in game development is shared by many gamers. Over the years, we've realized game development requires technical expertise and experience, which we, as content creators, might lack.
However, we possess an incredible platform, a supportive community, and an opportunity to spotlight indie developers. This is where the concept of Mad Mushroom originated. We knew we wanted to engage in game development. But we wanted to do so in a way that made sense for both developers and us. As a publisher, we realized we could offer competitive advantages and strengths. That's why we chose this path.
Regarding major esports and streaming organizations, do you see a competitive environment or "arms race" emerging for these types of ventures? We've noticed individual creators like Dunkey with Bigmode, and Dr. Disrespect's project, and it seems to be a growing trend. Why do you think this is happening, and do you see more organizations following suit?
Undoubtedly. Numerous gaming influencers are venturing into game development because it's an opportune time. With more games being released daily on Steam, Epic, and other platforms, indie developers find it increasingly challenging to distinguish themselves. This difficulty presents an opportunity for influencers to help get these games in front of communities. From a macro industry perspective, it's the right time for these influencers to engage. And it aligns with their inherent passion for making content around games.
In terms of competition, gaming is boundless. The limitation is the channels available for these games to gain recognition. We're thrilled about other influencers' activities in the space and look forward to playing their games and bounce ideas off of one another. We hope they share the same enthusiasm for ours.
While avoiding too many specifics, could you give us an insight into the type of games Mad Mushroom might be working on? Will you focus more on social or single-player games?
One beautiful thing about the Mad Mushroom team lies in our diversity. We represent varied perspectives, experiences, and game knowledge, leading to a wide range of ideas. There's no specific genre we're targeting, but our review process is unique: we care about a game's quality, but we also value its entertainment factor as a watchable content and collaboration potential with other streamers. These considerations are essential in our review of games. A game needs to be fun, fueled by the developer's passion, vision, and story. More importantly, it should be promotable on stream and have the potential for a viral effect where audiences enjoy watching it.
Let's go a bit into OTK's general development as a company. Considering the evolution of OTK since its inception, what have been the most significant changes?
The most notable change over the years, as cliché as it may sound, is our closeness as a team. We were friends before OTK, but our relationships have deepened significantly. We trust each other more, leading to bolder initiatives. For the first two years, we focused primarily on our media content. However, since August of last year, we launched our first business venture, Star Forge Systems, helped kickstart Mythic Talent in January, and are now launching Mad Mushroom. Our willingness to tackle larger projects has grown due to the trust we've developed and the knowledge we've acquired by spending more time in the space.
OTK's portfolio of business ventures has been expanding, you've brought on more ownership and creators. Asmongold initially spoke of his vision for OTK as an organization centered around friendship. Do you foresee a point where you might say you don't want to become too corporate, and want to stick to your roots? What's your perspective on this as the CEO?
Absolutely. One factor distinguishing OTK from many other content or esports organizations is that we are not venture-backed. We maintain full creative freedom and ownership, allowing us to pursue projects we're passionate about with people we respect and admire. I believe OTK will continue to grow, with some exciting new additions joining us in the future. However, OTK will always retain its distinct character – a little scuffed, a little rough around the edges. That's just who we are, and I don't see that changing.
You mentioned that OTK does not have venture backing, which has been problematic for several organizations leading to massive layoffs and even shutdowns. Given the challenging financial climate and some odd decisions based on financial constraints, what's OTK's strategy to navigate these issues?
We always strive to uphold good business fundamentals. Before embarking on any new or larger scale project, we ensure it can be executed within our current budget. We've been fortunate that OTK has been profitable from the onset, starting with our Race to World First event in December 2020. This profitability has built a small but steadily growing financial reserve, enabling us to weather industry storms. Our modest spending has also served us well in the current climate, and frankly, it's business as usual for us.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.