I've tried to explain it, but I really can't explain it better than they can. Here is the basic idea from the FAQ:
- What is Patreon?
Patreon lets fans become patrons of their favorite artists and content creators. Unlike other fundraising services that raise for a single big event, Patreon is for content creators who create a stream of smaller works, like youtube musicians, bloggers, comic creators, etc.
- Who can be a content creator on Patreon?
Anyone! All you need to do is setup your creator profile on the site and then tell your fans about it.
- What are the benefits of Patreon?
As a content creator:
- Get funded for working on what you love
- Give back to your most passionate fans with rewards
- Continue growing your fanbase with our social tools
As a patron and fan:
- Support the artists and content creators that you care most about
- Get rewarded by your favorite artists with pre-sell concert tickets, personal gifts, hangouts or meet & greets, or anything else they can offer as a way to say thanks
- Spread the word so others can support your favorite artists and content creators
They are always making content, interacting with their fans, being human when criticized and most importantly, they make a great game.
So what would it look like if a game company made more content, more often? The closest thing that comes to a Patreon type of thing is dungeonaday.com Pay 60 or 120 USD and you get lots and lots of great content in an easy to digest format. Yet Patreon works differently...
Note: I am not knocking dungeonaday.com. They have a great business model, I only use them to show differences in business models.
Dungeonaday - buy a subscription, get everything. I assume that subscriptions are renewed yearly.
Patreon - Pledge a certain amount of money for a creative work, pay only for things you want. Cap your expenses if the artist you patronize is really prolific. 🙂
Neither one is a bad idea, just different.
So if it's not Kickstarter and not Dungeonaday, what would a successful game creator on Patreon look like?
Well, there would have to be enough free content to get an idea of the type of games and game materials the game creator makes. Patreon provides a platform to do this, but some of the most successful content makers on the site also take advantage of personal blogs, YouTube and other sites.
A successful game creator would also need to interact with people interested in his/her games. Patreon provides a platform for this as well, but I would imagine the bare minimum would be a presence on Google Plus and Twitter.
So a game creator makes some cool stuff that you can get for free. What reason is there to pay money? Money would have to offer some kind of access, special content and/or varying degrees of creative control. I'll talk about this more with a specific example.
Joe makes games. He decides to setup a website at joesgames.com He joins Google Plus and Twitter and begins to follow some other users. He also sets up an account on Patreon.com.
He could run a Kickstarter to get off the ground (like Autarch), but decides to write about games he loves and smaller games he has already written. He posts on his blog, patreon.com, and Google Plus. He gets to know some other gamers, participates in GAME BLOG DAY and interacts with others, as he is able, on Twitter and Google plus.
With cross-posting on Patreon.com, someone asks about the whole money thing. This gives him a chance to explain that he can create more games if folks become patrons of his work. Maybe the first patron posting nets only a dollar, but it is something, you know?
As he talks to others, he also explains that patrons get games early, help playtest and have the ability to get special items. He may even decide that to sell his games at DriveThru__ - but only after patrons already have the games for three weeks.
What about special items? For his role-playing games, he can make cool things like a Pocketmod book. Let's say Joe has a maker friend, he could make a few minis (only about 10) or special tokens or other cool things. The special items don't have a limit. He could get the folks at Artisan Dice to make a few custom sets of dice as giveaway to the largest patrons.
If a patron believes he is good enough, that patron could even request the creation of a specific game.
None of this prevents Joe from giving away stuff, selling inexpensive pdfs, selling printed copies through DriveThru or Lulu or even making box sets.
Sure it is not a guarantee. Joe may make crappy games that no one likes but him and his mom. Still, it seems entirely possible that this type of business model could work for someone.
What do you think?