They’re just zees guys, you know?

10Jul12

Penny Arcade’s new kickstarter is offensive, and the reasons why should be obvious. In case they’re not, let’s break it down.

1) They are not starting a new project. Oh, they have stretch goals listed that could be be considered new projects. But those are not the main aim. If the basic goal is met, then the readers get less ads. That’s it. It’s not a new comic, a novel, a radio play-nothing. Not even a reprinting of their books or bringing back discontinued merchandise. You get a slightly different page layout, that you may decide is not as good as the current one.

2) They are not struggling to survive. I do not have access to the financial records of Penny Arcade, or else I’d need to hire a good lawyer right now, but I’m pretty sure they don’t need this money to keep the lights on. Heck, they’ve recently been hiring people to help them as they expand. Surely there would have been some contraction first if they were running low on funds. Hell, they’re hosting two conventions that keep getting bigger, and have started a form of video game reporting on their website. Both of those seem like they might be worthy of a Kickstarter, at least to start them off, but clearly they didn’t need the money to actually launch a new addition.

3) They are an established property with high visibility. The basic point of Kickstarter is to fund projects that could not get enough funding through traditional means-new businesses, small projects with too high a cost to be considered a hobby, and other personal projects. You reach out to people with the money to support you, and basically get a pass/fail evaluation on the proposal from the group, rather than one person. So Penny Arcade starting any form of kickstarter is just gaming this system now that it’s starting to be established. This isn’t the equivalent of an Exxon-Mobil Kickstarter to fund a new oil platform, but it’s the first step down that road, and I’m disappointed that Kickstarter didn’t turn down the whole proposal as grossly at odds with the aims of their programs.

Let me be clear. I like Penny Arcade as a comic. I’ve been following them for years now, and I’ve always enjoyed the comic as a whole, and often their opinions. I’ve always taken them as just two guys who managed to get a platform, rather than some kind of Internet gods. But I am sincerely hoping that this earns them the slap in the face they appear to deserve, regardless of whether or not it succeeds (it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t just from the number of fans they have). The generosity of the Internet is not infinite, and there are creative people more deserving of such funds to make sure their new things get off the ground.

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