Patreon Reverses Disastrous Decision Which Harmed RPG Creators

Last week, Patreon - a service used by a lot of RPG creators - announced a policy change out of the blue. They emailed creators and patrons alike, unilaterally telling them that they were essentially passing some costs on to the patrons, and thus increasing the amount of their pledges. Creators - including us here at EN World - watched in horror as our hard-won patron bases, which we've built up over months and years, cancelled their pledges; and we could hardly blame them. Fortunately, the outcry was heard - Patreon is NOT implementing that disastrous change!


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As you may know, EN World runs four Patreon campaigns, all of which were hit by Patreon's recent actions. As a result, the site has lost a signifiant amount of monthly revenue, and has been forced to cut back on freelancers, columnists, and more. It was quite a blow, and we are hardly alone - all across the RPG community (and many other industries), the same thing happened.

We're really pleased that Patreon has changed its mind. But those lost patrons are still gone. For that reason, this is a plea - if you unsubscribed from a Patreon - any Patreon - because of the recent actions, please consider re-subscribing. Every little counts, and lots of people have been impacted badly by this. In the coming week, I intend to highlight some awesome RPG Patreons to help as many as possible get back on their feet. Hopefully that will help a little. Creators have no way to contact those patrons who left, so all we can do is put the word out.

In the meantime, here are EN World's four Patreons. If you unsubscribed, please, please consider resubscribing. These things affect so many freelancers in our community, as well as the day to day running of communities like EN World. These below can be subscribed to for as little as a single dollar (and you get all the back-catalogue too!)

  • EN5ider. This is our biggest Patreon, and serves 5th Edition players with rules, adventures, and more. It's also how we publish the 5E version of our ZEITGEIST adventure path. If you remember A Touch of Class, our book of new classes for 5E, that came from this Patreon.
  • TRAILseeker. This Patreon serves Pathfinder. It's similar to EN5ider, and includes rules articles, adventures, and so on. We were also considering spinning out a Starfinder Patreon until last week, and we'd still love to do that.
  • EONS. This one is for WOIN fans. Tons of rules articles, adventures, races, careers, and so on. Essential if you play WOIN.
  • EN World. This one is for our news columns. It's just a monthly pledge - you don't directly get anything for it - but it's a way to support our freelancer program and all the columnists we use.
Are you an RPG creator on Patreon, or a patron of one? Let us know!
It's not all about us! If you know of (or run) an RPG Patreon affected by this, please post it with a link in the comments. We'll gather all of these and do a big article highlighting as many as we can next week in the hope that we can do a little good.
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


RichGreen

Explorer
Glad to see this stupid decision has been reversed, and hope you go ahead with the Starfinder Patreon - I'd be jolly interested in that one :)
 

Truly a dumb move by Patreon in the first place. Yes, they’ve reversed their decision, but the damage has still been done. It wouldn’t surprise me if several creators start looking at moving to a platform that they have full control over, something they might not have done if Patreon didn’t make this horrible change.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Truly a dumb move by Patreon in the first place. Yes, they’ve reversed their decision, but the damage has still been done. It wouldn’t surprise me if several creators start looking at moving to a platform that they have full control over, something they might not have done if Patreon didn’t make this horrible change.

It’s still the only major player in town right now, but I’m sure lots of RPG creators are keeping a close eye on the upcoming Drip from Kickstarter.
 

faete

Explorer
I know ERFWorld uses their own system, so its definitely possible. I'm just not sure how cost effective it would be for some of the smaller creators.
 

Cringer_luvr

First Post
Once again greed nearly or possibly has already destroyed something great. When will these companies learn that people are sick and tired of being nickeled and dimed to death!
 

DM Howard

Explorer
Glad to hear that they changed their minds. I couldn't really wrap my head around their proposed changes anyway, the graphs made no sense to me.
 

It’s still the only major player in town right now, but I’m sure lots of RPG creators are keeping a close eye on the upcoming Drip from Kickstarter.

I'm sure Kickstarter will be doing everything they can to get Drip out to market as soon as possible. They would be super happy that Patreon has given them a nice boost without them even doing anything.

Even if it takes them a few months, I see a number of creators moving away from Patreon as soon as they can. Some bigger creators may even look to moving to their own platform if it is cost-effective.
 

Craig Page

Villager
I'm a fiction writer and game designer/runner. My patreon (https://www.patreon.com/CraigPage) focuses on my fiction, but I often talk about gaming throughout. I even have a novel I'm posting on it (called Bleed) that focuses on roleplayers' lives in and out of game. I just started my Patreon a few months ago, this new plan would have torpedoed me. I'm glad they backed themselves up, but am looking forward to seeing the up and coming competition.
 


zedturtle

Jacob Rodgers
Once again greed nearly or possibly has already destroyed something great. When will these companies learn that people are sick and tired of being nickeled and dimed to death!

I don’t get the sense that it was greed. Processing fees always suck on microtransactions and I’m getting the sense that it was a “something has to change or our business model falls apart”. I imagine we will see some sort of load-sharing options in the future... either Patreon creators will need to voluntarily take less in per dollar, or the patrons will need to share cost, or the minimum pledge will need to go up. Or the credit card processors will need to change their fee structures but I’m not holding my breath on that.
 

Dyson Logos

Adventurer
https://www.patreon.com/dysonlogos

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Maps. My campaign has been about my RPG maps since November 2013. It has been a complete game-changer for me - I'm no longer living on disability, but am now a full-time artist / cartographer / creator.

My campaign's been running since 2013 and was the fourth RPG-related campaign on Patreon at the time. I run a per-creation campaign in part because there was no other option when I started - and of course, this change hit per-creation that run multiple creations per month the hardest. I still have just under a hundred patrons that pay less than $1 per map (averaging at 27c per map for them - $2.70 per month) who were seeing their cost per map going up almost triple (from $2.70 a month to $6.30), but only getting me an extra 5% to my revenue.


I lost 30 patrons (all of whom cited the fee changes), and it
shook up my whole patreon process with about 40% of my patrons switching from recurring per-creation pledges to a single larger pledge for the first creation and no recurring pledges.

I'm quite happy they reversed course, but I won't really know how much damage was done for a month or two as we see revenue numbers come in.


 

darjr

I crit!
I can’t find the article now, but it mentioned that they took on a bunch of investments that put them way beyond what they are currently making and they need to turn that around ASAP.
 




Staffan

Legend
I don’t get the sense that it was greed. Processing fees always suck on microtransactions and I’m getting the sense that it was a “something has to change or our business model falls apart”. I imagine we will see some sort of load-sharing options in the future... either Patreon creators will need to voluntarily take less in per dollar, or the patrons will need to share cost, or the minimum pledge will need to go up. Or the credit card processors will need to change their fee structures but I’m not holding my breath on that.
One of the major value-adds of Patreon is that it aggregates those micro-transactions which makes them viable. That is, instead of a hypothetical person paying $1-3 to ten different creators via Paypal and having 40-50 cents of each transaction skimmed by processing fees, that person can instead pay $20 to Patreon and only "lose" $1 in the process (I'm using the 3% + $0.35 figure Patreon was going to charge patrons here). And the same goes on the benefactor side - instead of a creator getting a thousand $1-3 payments, they can get a single $2000 one.

The change seems to have been primarily driven by content providers that use Patreon as a paywall rather than as a donations box, because it allowed some people to pledge mid-month, get access, and then cancel their pledge before actually being charged. To fight that, they decided to have all pledges charged when they actually pledge, and then on each monthly anniversary after that. But this would make aggregation impossible, raising processing fees significantly. So essentially they went after something that at least I see as a relatively small problem by creating a far greater one, and by completely misunderstanding what value they add to the process (primarily aggregation).
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The only Patreon to which I contribute is EN5ider, and the fee change was not out of my price range or capability, so I had no intention of dropping my support. Even so, I am very glad they decided to shelve the idea.
 


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