Penny Arcade: The Kickstarter Kerfuffle

Penny Arcade launches a campaign to go ad free, but not everyone seems happy about it.

Recently, Penny Arcade decided to launch a Kickstarter with the intention of reducing, and ultimately freeing themselves entirely of reliance on ad revenue. Given that one of the things included in that is companies paying them to make comics about their product, giving up ad revenue means they no longer have to produce these, and can make the comics they want to make. The reaction from some quarters has been negative, based on a number of things.

Among the objections have been that it breaks the Kickstarter rules. Well tough luck on that argument. Before putting it up they ran it by Kickstarter to see if they qualified, and Kickstarter came back and confirmed that they did. So report it all you want, but it won’t have any effect because it’s already been OK’d. You can argue that it does break the rules and is being allowed on anyway, but as far as I can see from inspecting the guidelines, you’re wrong.  For me, open ended can’t ever mean something that will happen over a 12 month period. It would be the exact opposite of that.

There also seems to be a feeling that it breaks some sort of spirit of Kickstarter because Penny Arcade is well known, long running and successful. So is Tim Schafer, but that didn’t stop the money pouring in for Double Fine Adventure, nor were people queuing up to knock him for someone of his stature using the platform. Successful, established people have been using Kickstarter for a while. Amanda Palmer, late of the Dresden Dolls got a million dollars for a new album and tour. Ska rockers The OC Supertones funded an album this way. Should they not have done on the basis of having released 10 albums before coming to Kickstarter?

Some people feel the reward tiers are insulting. Well you’ve missed the point entirely. They’re jokes. Whether you think it’s funny or not is irrelevant. I have a serious issue with the expectation of high value rewards some people seem to place on projects. The money for this will come out of the Kickstarter pot, and some have run into trouble in the past by over-promising on rewards. War Balloon Games ended up spending $10,000 on paying for the rewards for Star Command which from $37,000 pledged (though only $35,000 actually received) is a huge sum. After all, we’re pledging because we believe in the project, not because of rewards on offer right?

In all honesty, a lot of what going ad free would enable them to do doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Of course I’m happy with the idea that they can create whatever they want, rather than what advertisers want, but I’ve no desire whatsoever to read Automata, or Lookouts. I’m sure some people are clamouring for this stuff though, and they’ll be delighted when it happens. Why exactly do we want to deny them this when it changes absolutely nothing for those of us who don’t want to donate?


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