Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL?

Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL?

Postby fr1tz » 03 Oct 2014, 23:41

So here's the situation: I've used up all the IndieGoGo funds (even the bit I set aside for the chocolate) about two months ago. The whole project was only possible to begin with because my dear parents allowed me to move back in with them and live & eat in their house for free. And with friends generously donating/lending the (quite old) hardware I use for development, my only expenses are misc. mandatory insurance payments (which average to about 300 bucks per month).

I'm not a big fan of divulging that kind of info on the internet, but I think that full disclosure is the best way to go here because I simply can't continue working on TOL (which isn't even close to 1.0) without some sort of income. http://www.patreon.com *might* be a way to allow me to continue working exclusively on TOL or at least help reduce the amount of time I'd have to spend working a "real" job on the side.

Should I give it a try?
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Julius » 04 Oct 2014, 13:07

Maybe I am too pessimistic, but I think it will not amount to more than some pocket change. On the other hand... nothing is lost by trying right?
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby fr1tz » 04 Oct 2014, 16:50

Nothing except another piece of my dwindling dignity ;)

Judging from the lack of responses I guess most people here agree with your pessimistic stance. Will have to give the idea some more thought.
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Julius » 04 Oct 2014, 18:56

You could apply for steam greenlight and early access and actually try and sell the game.
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby fr1tz » 04 Oct 2014, 19:28

Even if the game would appeal to a broad playerbase and I had the relevant connections in the "industry" to get some press for it, there's no way a piece of open-source software could sell enough units to even cover the cost of promotion, let alone production. IMO the kind of people nice enough to pay for open-source software would also (and perhaps rather) donate to its development. There have been plenty of business models around open-source software, but as far as I know none of them survived.
There are plenty of other issues as well, lots of them tied to the fact that the game is multiplayer-only.

tl;dr IMHO, trying to sell the game would ruin everything ;)
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Akien » 04 Oct 2014, 20:09

fr1tz {l Wrote}:Even if the game would appeal to a broad playerbase and I had the relevant connections in the "industry" to get some press for it, there's no way a piece of open-source software could sell enough units to even cover the cost of promotion, let alone production. IMO the kind of people nice enough to pay for open-source software would also (and perhaps rather) donate to its development. There have been plenty of business models around open-source software, but as far as I know none of them survived.

I don't agree, look at Tales of Maj'Eyal: the code is 100% GPLv3, and only the tileset is nonfree (but freely redistributable with the game). You can download the game for free on its official website, it's included in some Linux distributions.
And still, I'm sure it sells pretty well on Steam. And it's simple:
- The userbase is HUGE on Steam, so you get 100x more than when doing promotion by yourself.
- It's so easy to buy things on Steam that people actually do it, even if they could get the game for free otherwise. Of course if you try to sell it for $50 and it can be obtained for free on your website, it might not work, but $5 to $10 might work.
- Steam users like to have games on Steam, I know it from experience. Even if I do value DRM-free downloads, I've played all my games through Steam even when I had them in DRM-free version too. Partly because of the additional features that Steam integration might bring (especially useful for multiplayer games), but probably for the "social media" component. When I play a good game, I like it that my contacts know about it, see my recommendation, etc.. All this to say that people might buy TOL on Steam just because they want to have it in their Steam library and play it from Steam.

Edit: And the cost of promotion when going through Steam Greenlight is really low. At first it was open to anyone, but IIRC to prevent getting too much spam they now ask to pay $100 to submit your game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/219820/
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby fr1tz » 04 Oct 2014, 20:31

Good to know, I never looked at it from this perspective.

But also keep in mind that simply being on steam does not mean wide exposure. I don't speak from personal experience but from what I've read/heard Steam's ecosystem is not a level playing field, lots of people work hard to game the system in favor of them or their clients.

Btw, I def. want to try to get the game on steam once it's really good, but that's still some time away and even longer if I have to split my time between TOL dev and a side job. Whether to charge money for TOL on steam is a question that has to be answered once we're there :)

Even if the game were ready for Steam right now, the 100 bucks for Steam greenlight are currently way beyond my budget ^^
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Wuzzy » 04 Oct 2014, 23:40

Yeah, it’s true. Steam Greenlight does not grant any game instant success. When the game is “greenlit”, it just means it is on Steam, nothing else.

Besides, I object to using a platform which is proprietary at its core to fund and promote a free software. Steam is a platform which is proprietary at its core.


Back to the main question: I don’t know much about Patreon. But I say: Well, it depends. IMO a very important aspect about any sort of crowdfunding is what kinds of payment they accept. If it only accepts PayPal payments, well that may be not so good, because PayPal can’t be really trusted. If it accepts all sorts of payments from a wide range of sources/providers/whatever you want to call it, it may be better. It would be really stupid if would-be-donors are scared off simply because of a stupid pay processing scheme.
So I suggest to take some time to find a good crowdfunding platform.

For the basic idea to try to start another crowdfunding campaign I say: Why not just try it? The worst that can happen is that … nothing happens, right? So I think you may want to at least try it. Nothing is really lost when it fails, compared to when you have done nothing.

So the short answer to the question is: “Yes, but check other crowdfunding platforms first.”


“Judging from the lack of responses (…)”
LOL, you are very impatient. The thread is just one day old now.
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Julius » 05 Oct 2014, 00:20

The main problem with greenlight is probably to get the needed votes, but otherwise I see no moral or other obstacle to fund a FOSS game through Steam. It's just another payment and distribution platform. Your bank also isn't open-source :p

But I agree that it might be still a bit early for trying to get on steam (it at least needs stabilized gameplay and a solid set of maps), but after that it could actually work. A Mac port to get full steamplay support would probably help also. There are also rumors that Steam is doing away with the greenlight votes, and replacing it with the recently introduced curation system. But obviously then the flood of indie games on Steam will be even higher and unless you get on a prominent curator's list there is little chance of getting the needed attention for some sales.

P.S.: Getting the 100$ for access shouldn't be a big problem to collect donations for. I am willing to put up a significant part of it when you feel like the game is ready for it.
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Evropi » 05 Oct 2014, 11:39

fr1tz {l Wrote}:Judging from the lack of responses I guess most people here agree with your pessimistic stance. Will have to give the idea some more thought.

I must admit, you're right. I felt uncomfortable responsding to such a topic, but it's true. Patreon is geared to getting lots of subscribers that pay a small fee which ends up making a big portion of your income. Think cents, not dollars. In many ways, it's a new angle at crowdfunding.

The problem is, not many people know about TOL or your previous work. It would be harder to entice subscription given the nature of software development. And if you were to make regular updates by say, video, the effort would likely outdo the gains.

UnfairReviews has an excellent overview of the pros and cons of using Patreon for crowdfunding that I highly recommend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThPL5nCxouU. It compares Patreon with advertising so it doesn't fit perfectly to this situation, but the parallels to an established system of income for media are useful to look at.

I really admire your dedication to this project. You never say you will abandon TOL, despite all the surprising roadblocks you've hit, the latest being your very financial security. For me personally, I'd say do what's best for you. I cannot imagine the stress you must be under right now given that situation, though it sounds like you've been in that tough spot before. As long as the passion to make a great sequel to RotC is still burning, I'll be happy. :)
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Wuzzy » 06 Oct 2014, 10:10

@Julius: You forgot that an important part of the Steam platform is the software Steam, and this software is proprietary. Valve has willfully chosen to keep this software proprietary, but they could have released it as free software. So using Steam to promote and fund a FOSS game is kinda fishy from a moral standpoint. It sends the wrong message.

And no, my bank is not a software. ;)


That Patreon-related video is interesting. But it does not really “debunk” Patreon as it says on the title, it just states that it makes less money than YouTube ads. Surely I would not base a decision on a single YouTube video. ;)
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Julius » 06 Oct 2014, 14:05

As long as it isn't the exclusive distribution platform... and your bank is using software that is most likely non-free :p

About the patreon vid: seems like they are rather debunking the low figures Patreon gives to make their system look more attractive... but overall the fact remains that advertisement isn't really a viable funding option for most projects either (just as Patreon).

@ fr1tz do you have a paypal etc. link already where people can donate? Certainly wouldn't hurt to have that one at least.
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby fr1tz » 06 Oct 2014, 17:19

Sure, anyone can paypal me through my public email mg@wasted.ch, but I'd rather use Patreon because it provides transparency and because I'd rather have donations from people who support open-source/indiegames/linux games/etc on principle and are somewhat removed from the project. I mean asking the people here who help with testing, provide ideas/feedback or even contribute stuff to the actual game for cash is kinda vulgar, no? ;)

There are very few games and open-source projects on patreon, and no open-source game at all right now, so TOL could be the first.
I'm currently leaning strongly towards giving patreon a chance. After all, like you said, nothing lost in trying, right?
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby fr1tz » 07 Oct 2014, 18:41

Here we go, another piece of dignity lost ;) http://www.patreon.com/fr1tz

Would really appreciate any help with spreading the word.
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Re: Should I try to use patreon to fund continued dev of TOL

Postby Julius » 08 Oct 2014, 12:55

Ok, cool. Will post about it on the blog when the new version 0.3 is released.
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