Mad Mushroom pilots creator published games with Rumble Club

Mad Mushroom, the publishing arm of content creator collective OTK Media, is partnering with Lightfox Games to publish Rumble Club on April 23. The cross-platform physics-based brawler will launch on April 23 on PC and mobile. Eager fans can sign up for early access on Steam from today, March 21, until March 28.

The title takes notes from a variety of genres, including battle royales and platform fighters. Players will fight with their fists and goofy gadgets to knock opponents into the goo below.

“With Rumble Club we set out to make an accessible and addictive brawler that anyone — casual or competitive — can play anywhere,” said Ryan Murphy, CEO of Lightfox Games. “We’ve found a great partner in Mad Mushroom: a publisher that was able to move fast to help bring the game to market and reach a wide audience of players who we hope will enjoy the game as much as we’ve enjoyed making it.”

With its April 23 launch around the corner, Rumble Club is emerging as the standard bearer for creator published games. As the first title published by Austin, Texas-based Mad Mushroom, Rumble Club will be the first major data point testing the thesis of creator-led publishing.

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“After our first play session of Rumble Club we knew we had to bring this title into the Mad Mushroom portfolio,” said Mike “Sibs” Silbowitz, CEO of Mad Mushroom. “This is exactly the type of title we are looking for: late in development, incredibly fun, inherently social, made by a talented dev team, and deserving of discovery. Rumble Club is already a hit among our OTK content creators, and we can’t wait to see the chaos players get up to.”

Rumble Club gameplay

Join in on the colorful chaos of Lightfox Games and Mad Mushroom’s Rumble Club.

Lightfox aims to find the sweet spot of easy to learn, but hard to master in Rumble Club. While the game looks to be accessible, the title still has plenty of depth and game modes for players to explore. Players can fly solo or team up in matches of up to 20 players. The title will launch with five rotating gameplay modes and 30 maps to keep the game fresh.

The free-to-play title will have in-game cosmetic purchases and a seasonal battle pass. To give fans the best gameplay experience, most players will be able to complete its battle pass through casual play. At launch, Rumble Club will have over 180 cosmetic items such as emotes, skins and accessories. The character cosmetics can be dyed, allowing for even more player customization.

Rumble Club launch season space theme
Rumble Club takes off into outer space at launch.

Lightfox Games plans to add new modes with themed updates seasonally. For its launch season, Rumble Club takes off into outer space with low gravity gameplay and out of this world cosmetics.

At Game Developers Conference, I got a chance to play Rumble Club ahead of its launch. The party brawler takes inspiration from a variety of sources — Super Smash Bros., Fall Guys and Gang Beasts come to mind — to create something entirely new.

The title’s chaotic fights, colorful setting and gameplay variety hooked me in immediately. Rumble Club will delight players looking for a tongue-in-cheek semi-competitive game, especially if you play with friends.

Gotta go fast

The leadership at both Lightfox and Mad Mushroom are comfortable moving quickly. Rumble Club will launch 16 months after Lightfox began development in January 2023. Moreover, Mad Mushroom first saw the game in December 2023 at an event hosted by 1AM Gaming. 

“1AM Gaming led Lightfox Games’ seed round in 2020 and renewed our investment in 2023 because we saw the team’s talent and ability to ship games. This deal came together in under three months because Mad Mushroom saw the same strengths,” said Louis Gresham, cofounder of 1AM Gaming. “Buy-in from creators is essential for discoverability — it’s why we’re so bullish on working with Mad Mushroom and the rest of OTK Media as a part of Rumble Club’s go-to-market strategy.”

Lightfox was able to turn the game around in this short timeframe due to its lean, yet experienced team. Today, the company has 13 developers, which allows the team to communicate and make changes efficiently. For example, one creator mentioned wanting an Oni mask cosmetic after the game’s first playtest with OTK talent. Lightfox agreed and added the mask to the game 12 hours later. 

Lightfox Games added Mad Mushroom themed cosmetics to Rumble Club
Lightfox Games added Mad Mushroom themed cosmetics to Rumble Club.

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without a wealth of experience to draw from. “I’ve been making and selling games since I was ten. Everything in my professional career has focused on multiplayer games-as-a-service. With Rumble Club, we’re trying to take that GaaS model to a completely different level. Each season isn’t just a new set of cosmetics, but it’s new game modes with a completely different theme and a new physics mechanic to match,” said Murphy.

Mad Mushroom did not initially plan to publish Rumble Club as its first title. Previously, the company announced BitCake’s Atomic Picnic as its publishing debut. The publisher and development teams made this decision together, especially with Lightfox pushing for a quick release.

Prioritizing watchability

The deal between Mad Mushroom and Lightfox came together so quickly because of the teams’ shared ethos. Both companies are looking to create games that are just as fun to play as they are to watch. 

“From a design perspective, the goal of [Rumble Club] was to make something that was super watchable. We’re historically a mobile studio and there’s turmoil around the traditional paid user acquisition model. For Rumble Club, we took a step back and thought about how we can reach a wide audience that doesn’t require these traditional user acquisition models. Of course, streaming and content creators are a big part of that strategy,” said Jordan Arnold, COO of Lightfox Games.

In consultation with OTK’s creators, Lightfox Games added additional features to make the game more appealing for streamers. The most notable addition is Rumble Club’s stream queue mode. This feature makes it easy for creators to play with their audience. Once enabled, streamers can create a public-facing lobby for their fans to join. Streamers can then press a button to randomly select fans from the queue to fill up the next match’s lobby. Streamers can play against up to 19 fans at a time or sit back or shout cast viewer matches. 

“Rumble Club matches are pretty quick — usually three to five minutes — but that lets creators cycle through hundreds or thousands of people on a stream. Fans get to play with their favorite creator and be featured on stream, and hopefully flex on them with a silly emote. We think that it’s going to be a powerful tool that allows creators to engage with their community seamlessly,” said Arnold.

Lightfox began building stream queue shortly after the team began working with Mad Mushroom. True to form, Murphy completed the feature in a week and a half.  

Up to 20 players can compete in Rumble Club matches
Up to 20 players can compete in Rumble Club matches.

Rumble Club’s stream queue is designed to work for creators no matter the size of their audience. For large audiences, the team stress-tested stream queue for up to 15,000 players. For smaller creators, streamers have the option to keep some players in the active lobby and refill the remaining spots. 

While the team is considering adding badges to denote subscribers, stream queue will not prioritize subscribers over other fans. OTK creators specifically requested this to ensure the feature did not feel like a pay to play situation for fans. 

Rumble Club will also ship with more quality of life tools to make content creation easier. These include a photo booth mode to help create thumbnails and automatically saving match replays with adjustable camera controls.

At launch, Mad Mushroom will leverage all of OTK Media’s resources to promote the title. This will include its top creators playing Rumble Club with their audience. Additionally, OTK’s Mythic Talent will allow Mad Mushroom to tap into a wider pool of content creators.

Mad Mushroom pilots creator-led publishing

Rumble Club is the highest profile example yet of creators publishing games and challenging the traditional game publishing model. The game’s launch is the first test of Mad Mushroom’s creator-led thesis. Ultimately, Rumble Club serves as a case study showing the (potential) value-add of including creators in game development and publishing.

Discoverability continues to be a major bottleneck in the games industry. Between 2019 and 2023, the number of games released on Steam per year increased 70%. Moreover, profitability is elusive with only 5% of 2023’s nearly 14,000 released games making over $100,000 in full game revenue.

Key industry stakeholders, including investors like 1AM Gaming, are collaborating directly with creators to address the discoverability challenge. Of course, having a stake in a games’ success helps align incentives early on.

Lightfox Games will reward early access players with exclusive cosmetics
Lightfox Games and Mad Mushroom will reward early access players with exclusive cosmetic rewards.

With plenty to prove, Rumble Club will launch April 23, 2024 on Steam, Epic Game Store, iOS App Store, and Google Play Store. Sign up for the game’s play test to earn exclusive cosmetics commorating Rumble Club’s launch.

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