Thursday, January 21, 2016

Highs and Lows of Crowdfunding

Patreon has been gaining steam as an alternate means of crowdfunding for gaming companies. Instead of a one-time payment to a project you wish to see developed, artists, developers, and the like are asking for monthly donations to keep their work going. In return you can get exclusives such as in-game content, unique artist drawings that no one else will have access to, and the like. The downside is that it's a monthly, re-occuring donation. You always have the option to stop or to change the amount, but it prompts artists to constantly promote and bide for your attention so you don't stop making those payments.

It has it's hits and misses. More artists are using this system as a means of complimenting income. Some do it to ensure that their art receives attention. And sometimes it's just a special "thank you" to those who continue to support and share their work by offering bonus art pieces that can't be seen elsewhere.

Mobile games have been using Patreon in hopes of keeping constant funding when in-game purchases dip or may not even exist. Kotaku looked at TouchArcade, a mobile gaming outlet and review site, as one case on why this method of funding may not be the best way to go. In June of 2015 they asked the public for help with their cash flow and a number of fans, and other mobile developers, joined Patreon to help them keep their lights on. They ask for a monthly donation of $10,000 in total, and while they have never reached that goal, they have managed to stay in the $9 grand range to keep things running. TouchArcade is one of the few that doesn't spam you with advertisements, which tend to make up the bulk of income for a number of mobile developers.

But over the past few months they have seen a dip in their Patreon responses, particularly after another mobile developer that was providing them with $1 grand, backed out. FDG Entertainment released a mobile game called Venture Kid. It only received a 3.5/5 on TouchArcade's scale. The next day, FDG announced it was removing their Patreon donation, claiming that it was to ensure better transparency between the developer and the review site. Honestly it reads like they were butt-hurt about a not-so-perfect review and they retaliated.

It is a blow for the site, to say the least. But TouchArcade has stated that they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. If Patreon doesn't pan out for future funding, they do have investments and backers elsewhere to help keep the site running. That doesn't detract the fact that this dip was a blow to them. It should also serve as a warning. While the idea of crowdfunding sounds great, not every idea works, and not everyone is willing to donate. Always have a plan on who will invest in you - that's going to be more ideal in the long run.

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