Scandalized board game review channel Quackalope has announced today that the channel will be slowing to, mostly, a halt. While reluctant to give any specifics, Jesse and Shira Anderson, newly married, appeared together to show wedding photos and answer questions about the future of the Quakalope channel. Most significantly, they announced that the channel would be slowing down production and release of videos.
During the two-hour stream, one thing made very clear was that none of the four members could continue working for the channel full-time. In response to a viewer question, Jesse stated, “All of us are looking for jobs.” The strong implication is that they’ve simply lost too many sponsors to continue as they’ve been going. Jesse also said that while he hoped the Quackalope channel would stabilize and re-emerge, “none of us think that opportunity is the most likely thing.”
Despite these setbacks and forecasts, Jesse also said, “the channel is not going away. It will just look different. We’ll probably have less videos.” In response to a viewer question, Jesse even said that they will be at both Origins and GenCon, and maybe Pax Unplugged this year.
Regarding the controversy with game publishers Into The Unknown (ITO), Jesse seemed to admit some miscommunication on his part but bristled at more serious accusations. Shira suggested that “language barriers” played a part in what Jesse and Shira claim was simply miscommunication between Jesse and ITO. ITO is a Polish company whose owners and employees speak English as a second language.
Jesse said that while he may be “a bad actor and a human” he’s not a “psychopath.” He said, too, “I have made a ton of mistakes.” But he denies any intention at blackmailing ITO and said, “I wasn’t in any way, shape or form,” and this is why his response video from a couple of weeks ago was not an apology video. He said he does not owe an apology to anyone. Later in the video he walked this back slightly and said that he could apologize for making “mistakes,” but not for blackmail.
Asked specifically about the nature of the reviews Quackalope did for ITO’s game, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey, Jesse said that while he thought it would be a brilliant game for a small number of people he felt could handle the complexity, nonetheless, “it’s not right for the vast majority of people.” He said that he stands by the reviews he did, although he agreed with one viewer that they should have put the positive and negative reviews (or “confirmation bias” reviews) together in one video.
Jesse was very careful to say that he recognizes ITO was also in a very difficult position. He feels they “absolutely made a mistake” but again said that he felt miscommunication was mostly to blame for the onset of the trouble. At the same time, Jesse stated that the emails released by ITO were presented in a deceptive manner, claiming that the release was missing some emails in the chain and that date/time information had been removed for duplicitous reasons.
One viewer asked if Quackalope has considered taking legal action against ITO. Jesse answered that this isn’t “the pathway I want to go down.” Shira followed up saying that when small companies sue other small companies, “no one wins.” She did say, though, that she’d be willing to talk to a lawyer and see what they had to say.
The controversy began when Quackalope approached ITO, first offering to produce a video for them and quoting a rate, and later mentioning they had already shot a lot of video but felt they couldn’t do the game justice without help from ITO. Because Quackalope offered to shoot more positive footage with funding from ITO, they’d been accused by the gaming community of attempting blackmail against ITO. Following news of all this, Quackalope lost many subscribers and apparently sponsors too.