Board game YouTuber Quackalope sheds 10% of subscribers in wake of Aeon Trespass: Odyssey emails controversy

Quackalope, the board game YouTuber at the centre of a massive controversy over paid promotions in the industry, has lost 10% of his channel’s subscribers so far in the wake of the storm.

The channel came under fire 11 days ago from the developers of campaign board game Aeon Trespass: Odyssey, who claimed Quackalope’s Jesse Anderson had contacted them offering to reshoot negative content in exchange for a $7,500 sponsorship deal.

Hours later, BoardGameWire obtained and published the emails in question, which confirmed Anderson had approached the developers, Into The Unknown, asking for a $7,500 sponsorship package.

They also showed he later offered to reshoot his existing impressions of the game, which he described as a frustrating experience, if the collaboration went ahead – but would likely run with the already shot content if no deal was reached.

When ITU did not sign up to the proposed deal, Quackalope was true to its word and began releasing a series of videos about the game on April 28 – culminating in a video titled “The Horrible Truth of Aeon Trespass Odyssey”.

The video kicks off with Anderson saying, “Aeon’s[sic] Trespass: Odyssey might be the worst game we have ever played. There’s a strong chance that it is.” He quickly references a second video uploaded by Quackalope earlier that day which describes the game as “undoubtedly a masterpiece”, but follows that up with “This video is unapologetically critical and negative of the experience we’ve had for the past 40 hours [of playing the game]”.

Anderson made a statement late on May 20, just before the emails were released, denying asking the publisher to pay us in order to prevent the channel posting critical or negative content, and saying he would answer questions in a livestream on June 12, following his return from a trip to Israel.

Reddit and BoardGameGeek messageboards seethed with commentors both attacking and defending Quackalope in the days after the email reveal, as well as questioning the nature of paid previews and promotional content within board game media.

After two days of heated discourse, Anderson released a video in which he continued to deny asking for money to scrap the negative videos, but in which he also apologised to Into the Unknown, the Aeon Trespass Odyssey community for the “chaos” and “vitriol” which he said had descended on the project.

He also apologised for putting up the Aeon Trespass: Odyssey videos he had recorded “when he did”, and said he was sorry that he wasn’t more careful and thoughtful about the way they were presented.

Quackalope had about 48,300 subscribers on May 19, the day before the emails were released, and lost about 3,200 subscribers over the following two days, data from social media analytics website Social Blade shows.

The channel’s subscriber numbers have now fallen by 10% since the controversy began, down to 43,500 on May 30. The channel has lost subscribers every day since May 19, barring the Memorial Day holiday on May 29, when its numbers remained unchanged.

Into The Unknown’s Kickstarter campaign for the second printing of Aeon Trespass: Odyssey, meanwhile, has continued to attract backers since the controversy began.

The project has currently raised more than €2.4m from over 6,800 backers, with seven days of the campaign left to run.

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