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from time to time I get to meet some of you in person, and of course a question you always ask is: is your Patreon page still active? Will you release any more games? “Yes, eventually” is my usual answer.
Over the last couple years – besides working odd-jobs and the general uncertainty about my future – I’ve been designing and in-house playtesting several role-playing games. However, I haven’t written down much of those (not counting my madman-like scribbled notes) except for an Italian-language Game Chef entry and a larp scenario found in Crescendo Giocoso (both co-authored with Barbara).
As of now, a bunch of juicy new content – including English-language content – is actually very close to readable shape. I wouldn’t call any of that a “finished” game, though, hence it doesn’t qualify as potential paid content under the current wording of my Patreon page. Over the last several months, I’d thought up a plan to restructure the campaign in order for you to get that content at last – and for me to get a bit of your money. However, as I was almost ready to deploy those changes, Patreon hit us all with big changes of their own that sent me back to the drawing board!
In October, the company suddenly pulled the rug from under the feet of a number of their customers – content creators depending on Patreon patrons for their income (here’s the open letter I co-signed with so many others, and links to articles telling the full story). While I’m not one of the creators impacted, the incident made me wary of how Patreon conducts their business (i.e. like most other business entities I know of, sadly) and I chose to bid my time while watching for new developments. This month, they announced a new pricing scheme – which they’re disingenuously trying to sell us as “more money to the creators”: as you’ve probably noticed already, everybody is appalled and a lot of people are quitting Patreon altogether.
[Breakdown of boring accounting issues starts here – feel free to ignore:]
Under the old pricing scheme, I used to get a variable percentage of X (your pledge), minus sunken costs due to currency exchange between EUR and USD and actually moving money from a PayPal account to a real bank account. Under the new scheme, I get a fixed percentage of X (minus all of the above) while you pay X+2.9%+$0.35. While the change from variable to fixed percentage would actually be beneficial to content creators (more predictable income) and the partial shift in who pays Patreon’s cut (creator or patron) would substantially be irrelevant in the long run (although a terrible PR move)… it’s the fixed +$0.35 per pledge that really hurts. It hurts small pledges so much it changes the big picture completely: you now end up paying $0.49 surcharge to give me $0.95 (a very significant cost), and that’s before VAT, currency exchange rates, etc. for those of us who aren’t based in the USA (while VAT isn’t Patreon’s fault – and I do believe taxation per se is ultimately beneficial to society – it feels grossly misplaced when the whole purpose of this model was to establish “patronage” as something different from a customer-seller relationship). How much sense does it make for someone based in Italy (as I am, as well as about a half of my patrons) to spend close to $2 a month to gift a favorite artist under $1?
[end of boring accounting aside]
Being myself a patron to several creators, and following many more, my mailbox is currently being flooded with their reactions. I’m studying those, looking for emerging trends of response to the new pricing scheme, evaluating what might work for me – and you. But I’ve also started investigating alternatives to Patreon.
Thus, in the immediate future, I might restructure my existing campaign or I might scrap it all and start anew somewhere else. Either way, you’ll be the first to know.
Meanwhile, should you opt even pull your pledge (which is purely notional at the moment – you’ll get advance warning before and if I start billing you again) I recommend you keep following me, so I can reach you with news. Alternatively, would you like to stop using Patreon altogether, I suggest you e-mail me at email@example.com and drop a line – so I can add you to an address list of people I’m to notify of my next move whatever it is.
Lots of love to you all,