Dr Disrespect is a quick-witted, bombastic streaming persona created by Herschel Beahm IV. He is most famous for streaming games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and other battle royale games, but has worked at game companies as a level designer and other roles.
After a tumultuous time being banned by Twitch, streaming a men’s room during E3, marital issues, and other potholes, he has moved to Youtube and still has a powerful brand.
It appears so powerful that he’s paired up with some heavy hitters to start a AAA game studio: Midnight Society. He’s collected Call of Duty and Halo veteran Robert Bowling, Quinn DelHoyo (a developer who worked on Gears of War and Halo); Halo Infinite veterans Darren Bacon, art director; Greg Cox, 3D environment artist; Alex Fennell, Technical Director of Infrastructure; Rodney Gilyard, software engineer; and Howard Coulby, Technical Art Director.
It will be interesting to see if Midnight Society can make free-to-play battle royale game (code named Project Moon) take off – but they sure seem to be taking a good first stab at it by releasing early playable footage called DEADROP. They sure have a great bench and started off with a bang by almost immediately selling out their 10,000 Founders Access Passes along with patches and passes. These Founder’s Passes allow early access, voting rights on game behaviors, unique founder’s costumes, exclusive drops, etc.
Just this last month they release their first drop after only 6 months of development and they claim they’ll be doing new drops every 6 weeks.
But it doesn’t stop there, they spend a lot of ink talking about a desire to work with their community to build the game. All members that got in early start as “Claws” and must participate in a variety of tasks to be elevated to highest status of ‘Variant’. There will also be a second-tier group called “Eyes” that run the in-universe creation of weapons and cosmetics – and share in the future economy generated from the work of the guild. What tasks? Besides judging your participation in the forums, activity in the community, activity as a content or game creator, they also had to go through secret missions:
Over the course of the last two months, we’ve been running a secret mission, which began on New Year’s Eve and allowed the most locked-in Claws within our community to verify as Pre-Variants over the course of a five-week campaign. Deciphering clues, hacking into consoles, unlocking Sectors, and running missions. Many of these verified Pre-Variants, who showed initiative and teamwork to complete the secret CC.protocol training simulation will be awarded Founder’s Access for free, with the rest earning whitelist status and receiving the highest priority during the selection process.
They’re leaving no stones unturned. There is also likely going to be the choice of transferring earned equipment via NFT trading or more standard non-NFT trading.
To me, this feels like 2 different engines are running simultaneously. There’s definitely a game being built here, but there’s also an even bigger PR, community, and hype machine engine going. It’ll be interesting if the technical game can live up, or even keep up with the almost massive amounts of direction churn that will be generated by the hype machine. As a software engineer, I sure hope they have some solid change management plans.
If nothing else, Dr Disrespect does know how to monetize and capitalize his fame. It’s also a fascinating view into the most modern kinds of community management techniques. It will be interesting if they can actually put all that into an experience that works and is fun.