After having some success with my own crowdfunding effort, I now have the confidence to say that developers can (and should) consider Patreon as one of their crowdfunding options to create indie games full-time.
Founded in May 2013 by Samuel Yam and Jack Conte (who is also a Patreon user himself), Patreon is a fairly new fundraising service that was created to assist content makers with sharing their works and not having to worry about running out of funds to do what they love doing. It does have some similarities to Kickstarter, though there are several differences that make Patreon a slightly more viable option for indie game developers (especially those who make smaller monthly projects or game prototypes that they want to share) and YouTube video creators. Think of it as a patronage or tip jar service: if people like what you do they can choose to support you, and you can continue to provide quality content, videos, or games to everyone.
I’ve outlined some of the pros and cons of both crowdsourcing services below:
- Perfect for large or one-time projects that takes several months to complete and deliver
- All-or-nothing crowdfunding (if a campaign doesn’t reach their fundraising goal amount, the project creators will not get any money at all)
- A lot of work to setup
- KS campaigns need to be submitted for review & approval before they can go live
- A video about your Kickstarter campaign is a requirement
- Need to come up with plenty of rewards for pledgers
- Need to update and promote your Kickstarter page regularly
- Some projects could be abandoned (and pledges unrefunded because of it)
(Kickstarter takes a 5% cut of your funds)
- Much easier to setup than Kickstarter (literally takes minutes)
- Perfect for smaller projects, games and content that is created frequently or monthly
- Videos (though recommended) are optional
- Patron rewards (though preferred) are entirely optional
- Smaller risks of backing a Patreon, since you can cancel your ongoing pledges at any time
- Flexibility of schedule (if patronage per content release is chosen, you can decide to request for a fund withdrawal only when the content is finished and shared)
(Patreon takes a 5% cut of your pledges to cover operating costs, and an approximate 3% for credit card processing fees)
Patreon offers two ways for supporters to support their content creators: patronage per content release (for each time content is created and shared with everyone), and patronage per month (pledgers are automatically charged at the end of each month). PayPal is supported both ways (for pledging and receiving pledges), and all credit card payments are processed by Stripe (one of the most secure and reputable payment processors available). No credit card information is ever stored on Patreon.
According to the FAQ posted on Patreon’s web site, Patreon process an approximate 3% for credit card processing fees (using Stripe, trusted by thousands of sites) and 5% from your pledges for Patreon to cover operating costs. There are no card processing fees for pledges made with Patreon credit. If you’re setting goals for your Patreon page, do take these fees into consideration because you will receive somewhere between five to eight percent less than what your supporters are pledging for your content due to the fees.
Automatic monthly payments happen before the 15th of each month for accounts with over $100 in them. If you’ve arranged for payment per content release, then at the end of each month Patreon will total up your patron pledges and show it in your Patron Manager page.
There are three ways to receive Patreon funds. You can add a mailing address to receive checks, have it directly deposited to you, or have the payments sent by PayPal. According to Patreon checks are sent out within three business days, and all Patreon users should also ensure that their “payment receipt” information in the account settings are correctly filled out to avoid any delay in payment processing. Should you have any questions or issues with the payment, you can also contact Patreon directly to have your problems resolved.
Here are a few game developers that I know of who have their own Patreon page (and their known pledges as of time of writing):
Zoë Quinn (Depression Quest) – $706.70 per month
Porpentine (howling dogs) - $690 per game
anna anthropy (dys4ia, Redder) - $465 per game
Lulu Blue (Filo Filo Disco) - $116 per month
Benjamin Braden (Au Sable) - $40 per month