I recently launched a Patreon specifically for my YouTube channel. I’m a huge fan of Patreon. I think that people making money for their work (even if talking about games is a hobby, it’s still a lot of work) is a good thing. I currently support a dozen creators who I particularly enjoy – video makers, podcasters, writers. For me, it’s a way to say thank you for providing me with hours of entertainment, keep up the good work.
Of course, not everyone feels this way. There’s a lot of backlash against Patreon, specifically (at least that I’ve noticed) in the gaming sphere. Some people consider it begging, some people think “well you’ve been doing this for free for this long, why ask for money now?” and some people, as far as I can tell, are just dicks who are offended at the very idea of people making money off a hobby. I’ve seen this come up in forums, on Twitter, on YouTube videos and in comments.
I had debated starting a Patreon for a while. I wanted to do it, but I was also aware of how it is perceived among some people and didn’t really want to deal with the extra negativity. Eventually, I decided to just go ahead with it (thanks in part due to the push provided by this excellent breakdown of the gender imbalance in games Patreon and its followup over on Go Make Me a Sandwich). I posted the link on Twitter once or twice, and people were really supportive and RT’d it a bunch. That was nice. I again hesitated about posting about it on my YouTube channel even though it’s specifically for my videos so that’s where an announcement should go.
On Saturday I posted a 2 minute video on announcing the Patreon along with some details about it. It was the first (and only) time I mentioned it on YouTube. This happened.
The first time I’ve ever lost more subs than I’ve gained in a day. I actually lost 17 subs the day I published the video (and gained 5 new ones), and 10 the following day.
I posted two videos within a couple hours of each other because I wanted to give people real content as opposed to just a Patreon ad for the day. Here’s how they were received.
In 2 days my Patreon video is 1 dislike away from being my most disliked video ever (that’s honor still belongs to my Fallout 4 video from November – people are just as mad about Fallout no longer being a CRPG as they are about people making money on their videos).
And then there are comments like this.
Also comments that bash other people’s crowdfunding efforts. Sigh.
Now, it’s not all bad, obviously. 11 people have supported me and many people have boosted it or wished me luck. Those people are awesome.
Still, the negative reception makes me wonder – what exactly is the problem? I really don’t understand the backlash for a service that is completely optional. It’s really no different than a Twitch streamer having a subscription button (except on Patreon you can choose the amount you want to give). I’m not really into the streaming scene, but is there as much pushback against the existence of Twitch subscriptions? How about people having a PayPal donation link on their sites?
People run their Patreons in many different ways. Some give exclusive content to patrons, some send out physical rewards or spend time on Skype with patrons at certain levels. Some treat Patreon more as a tip jar, where there are no different reward levels or ‘goals’. I have my preferences for certain practices over others. If someone runs their Patreon in a way I don’t like, then I just don’t support them. If I don’t think their content is worth any of my money, then I just don’t support them. If I find they spend more time promoting their Patreon then making content… getting the picture?
What is it about the idea of people giving their viewers the option of tossing them a few bucks that offends people so?