Last year Penny Arcade, the web comic founded by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, launched a Kickstarter campaign so that they could run their website without any advertisements. This would mean that they would be able to produce content directly for their fans, without having to worry about being beholden to the wants or desires of their advertisers.
The campaign, Penny Arcade Sells Out, was a success. They raised the necessary money to run their organization, which now supports an entire office of employees, for an entire year ad free. Despite more than meeting their goals, however, the Kickstarter was not without controversy. Like many other established companies and authors that have turned to Kickstarter, critics questioned as to whether or not they really needed to rely on their fans to fund the project, especially when they have already made a considerable amount of money from not only the web comic, but other ventures like Penny Arcade Expo.
It’s been a pretty hotly debated topic, and not just in regards to Penny Arcade. Zach Braff received criticism when he turned to Kickstarter to try to launch his film: Yet Another Kickstarter – Zach Braff. Kevin Smith and Ken Levine both weighed in on the debate. Smith stated that while he initially thought about going the Kickstarter route he had changed his tune, stating “But now I’m feeling like that’s not fair to real indie filmmakers who need the help”, on Reddit. Levine took to his own blog saying, “The next Kevin Smith is out there… somewhere. He (or she) just needs a break, which is what Kickstarter is supposed to provide”.
Now, while Penny Arcade received some flak for the original Kickstarter, overall they didn’t catch too much negative feedback from their fans. Earlier this week, however, Penny Arcade turned to Kickstarter once again in order to fund the return of their podcast “Downloadable Content“. This time they experienced some pretty vocal backlash, especially on Twitter.
New on PSLS: Editor’s Letter: Penny Arcade and the Abuse of Kickstarter playstationlifestyle.net/2013/05/09/edi…
— PlayStationLifeStyle (@PSLifeStyle) May 10, 2013
A quick Twitter search for Penny Arcade, or Penny Arcade Kickstarter, will yield results both for and against them turning to Kickstarter for a second time. Some other artists entered into the debate, including Scott Kurtz of PvPonline.com and Aaron Diaz of Dresdencodak.com.
When non Penny Arcade cartoonists say “pay me to make things I can make for free” it’s brilliant. When PA does it, they’re monsters.
— Scott Kurtz (@pvponline) May 8, 2013
@pvponline I think complaints come up because some people think when you’ve “made it,” you never need money again. It’s so silly.
— Aaron Diaz (@dresdencodak) May 8, 2013
My main point I wanted to make with all this, I suppose, is that I don’t see the big deal myself. I’ve donated to many Kickstarters in the past, and I have to say that I only ever donated to the ones I really wanted to…it’s not like I ever thought to myself, “Well, I spent $20 on the Penny Arcade Kickstarter this month, so I can’t put $10 towards this new Indie game that’s coming out”. The major concern I’m hearing from folks who are criticizing PA, and other companies like them, is that there seems to be a finite amount of money to be raised on Kickstarter, and they’re siphoning off what could be going to Indie artists. I personally don’t think that’s the instance at all. In fact, I really don’t visit Kickstarter on a weekly basis, only when I see something like the PA Kickstarter going on. When that brings me to the site I tend to surf around a bit and discover projects I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Ultimately if it upsets you the best advice I can give is to definitely speak with your pocketbook. If this wasn’t a lucrative venture for larger companies they wouldn’t do it. If it really sticks in your craw that much don’t pay out the $10 bucks to them. That said, I don’t see them breaking any rules by what they’re doing, so I’m not calling foul.
- Penny Arcade: Crowdfunding to be advertising free. A ‘cool’ model on Kickstarter? (nextlevelofnews.com)
- Penny Arcade, Amanda Palmer, and the Problem With Kickstarter (certainagegamer.com)
- Penny-arcade (entre528.wordpress.com)