Penny Arcade is by far one of the Internet’s most successful and prolific webcomics—so much so, that they’ve turned from a two-man operation to a giant gaming and media company in a little over 10 years. However, like many companies, much of their profits are made by advertising and page clicks, which essentially runs the online economy.
That’s where Kickstarter comes in, as the site’s founders are trying a “crowd sourcing model” to make Penny Arcade ad-free for a whole year.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, this move has stirred up some genuinely negative reactions among the gaming industry, with particular attention being focused on the reward tiers of the “Penny Arcade Sells Out” Kickstarter page. Some of the “rewards” include things like being followed on Twitter by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, copies of the Penny Arcade books, and special trips to the PA headquarters (but you pay for your own travel):
- PLEDGE $15 OR MORE — All previous rewards, Gabe will think about you during sex, and a certificate of appreciation will be mailed to you. (Add $3 for non-U.S. addresses)
- PLEDGE $300 OR MORE — @cwgabriel will follow you on twitter for one year. Your day is now a constant source of his entertainment.
- PLEDGE $300 OR MORE — @tychobrahe will follow you on twitter for one year. You can bombard him with 140 character requests all year long.
- PLEDGE $500 OR MORE — Within reason, Gabe and Tycho will retweet one of your tweets.
- PLEDGE $5,000 OR MORE — Lunch with PA Business. Have a lunch with Robert Khoo, Mike Fehlauer, Brian Sunter, and Jeff Kalles in Seattle. (You need to get yourself to the venue, sorry.)
- PLEDGE $5,000 OR MORE — Play date with Penny Arcade! You and one other person can come to PAHQ (you need to arrange travel) for an evening of pizza and games.
Much of the scrutiny over the Kickstarter stems from the perceived “worth” of the reward tiers, which vary greatly depending on price and tactile use. Some of the most pointed arguments through news coverage and social media claim that Penny Arcade’s staff is gaming the system in order to amass money that they don’t necessarily need.
If you’re a fan of the Penny Arcade collective (or not), what’s your opinion? Do you think this is a genuinely bad move from Penny Arcade, or a novel concept for supporting their website, charity, and other contributions to the gaming industry?