EDIT/NOTE: the title of the graphic above isn’t my smartass commentary. It’s the actual name of the project, taken from its kickstarter page. And you can click on said graphic to go there.
EDIT/NOTE 2: For the record — no, this is not any kind of ‘fraud.’ I am certain the funds will replace their ad revenue just as they said it would. Nor am I saying they shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to have this Kickstarter. They absolutely should. Whether or not I understand this Kickstarter, it is perfectly legitimate.
Okay… I admit it… I don’t get this at all.
Penny Arcade is a business — a business with multiple successful spinoff projects and businesses. Is there a webcomic (which is, after all, an innately artistic endeavor) at the center of that business? Sure. I don’t deny that. But it is a business. This is what they do for a living. And as far as we can tell, it’s very profitable for them.
So… why exactly to they want people to donate money to them? What are we getting for donating? If the product hits its goal — its quarter of a million dollar goal — to take the topmost ad off of Penny Arcade —just the topmost ad —for one year.
If they break $525,000… they’ll take all the off ads on the homepage — just the home page — for one year. Half a million dollars. Half a million dollars.
If it breaks a million, hey — they’ll go ad free for the year.
They say there’ll be stretch goals (all ‘locked’ goals, so we don’t know what they are) for some additional content. And there’s the requisite pledge goals (for five hundred bucks, Gabe or Tycho will retweet one of your tweets. ‘Within reason.’)
And next year, they’re going to do it again.
The core service is “hey, you won’t need to see ads any more! For one year!” Which… I guess I don’t see why I care. Or why anyone should. It’s the internet. There are ads. And of course, they free up labor in their business unit, since someone’s got to do that ad-selling. So… you know… yay, they don’t need an ad department/guy any more.
There are lots of artistic projects out there that are being crowdfunded. Things that otherwise wouldn’t exist, because it’s hard to fund art in today’s world. But… when something actuallyis successful… incredibly successful, as near as we can tell… to be looking for a quarter of a million dollars to remove one ad from the home page of a comic strip without removing the ad from the comic strip itself, or any of the other ads, and then a year later having another….
Ah well. It doesn’t matter if I get it or not. This will fund. It will overfund immeasurably. And no, I don’t think it will fund in lieu of other projects that are out there — their audience is their audience, and a person who drops a grand to get on Tycho’s XBOX Live friends list for a year is doing so because this is the comic/site/convention he loves.
Still, this is the first Kickstarter I’ve seen where I just don’t see any actual value in funding it. I don’t see that we get anything for it. And no, I don’t count the locked stretch goals — we’re not funding the stretch goals, we’re funding the actual listed goal, which is a quarter million dollars to take one ad bar off their site for a year. And seriously, who gives a fuck?
I will say this — and I will acknowledge before I do that this is unfair to Gabe, Tycho, and Penny Arcade. Every time I see a $6,000 labor of love being set up by someone who’s barely getting food on their table — a book that would otherwise go unpublished, an album unproduced, or what have you — that fails to fund, I’m going to remember the time Penny Arcade got people to drop hundreds of thousands of dollars essentially because they could, for an artistic project that was already way in the black, and I will think this is how the world works. The people who can most get the money are the ones who least need the money.
And maybe, in the end, that’s the lesson being funded here.