Just a fair warning… this morning I am going to jump around between topics like mad because god knows why.
Since Xur no longer comes at a time when it is reasonable for me to post a blurb about him on Fridays, I am left without a clearly defined purpose for what I should be posting. Last night was as I mentioned yesterday a bit odd because I wound up going with people to see The Disaster Artist. I swear if that movie is not decorated with at least a few awards during the upcoming awards show season, it will be a complete travesty. By the time I got home and settled in The Game Awards were already in full swing but I tuned in for the tail end… only to watch Horizon Zero Dawn get completely robbed by everything else and walk away I believe with zero awards. We’ve talked about this problem a lot on AggroChat that 2017 was a year that just had too many amazing games. This hurts from an awards prospect but also from a financial prospect given that each player has a finite amount of money to spend on gaming and probably couldn’t do ALL of them in the same year. I know personally there are a bunch of games that I picked up but have not actually started, in part because I wanted to assist the financial success of the title… but have lacked the time to devote to them. Ultimately that is the real tragedy of this year as far as gaming goes… we had too many awesome things to play and not nearly enough time to play them.
As far as games that were shown off… Death Stranding still seems completely incomprehensible. At this point we have seen three trailers and none of them really help to flesh out what the hell is going on… something to do with naked Norman Reedus, creepy Babies, and the alien black oil from X-Files. New game that is now on my Radar that I didn’t know about before… is Witchfire which unfortunately is getting labelled soulsian because everything apparently has to be soulsian now? It name checks Painkiller in the trailer and that is precisely what it reminded me of. I can only hope that it also has the same sort of gameplay as Painkiller did, because that game did something unique that shooters just don’t do. You would have a flurry of activity and mindless mayhem… and then a moment of calm until you moved up to the next area through a tangible series of gates. Another thing that people seem to be super excited about is Bayonetta 1, 2 and ultimately 3 coming to the Switch. I’ve never played a Bayonetta game nor really know anything about them other than the main character being nonsense and not exactly the sort of character that draws me in personally. Perhaps in the near future I should change this and try out the series especially now that it is available on the PC.
Another thing I sort of wanted to talk about is the Patreon change. Ultimately I get the why of how they ended up going down this avenue, and I am sure someone thought this was a hugely positive change. From the aspect of supporting a creator it absolutely is because they will wind up getting more of the face value of your donation. However messaging wise and the feeling right now that everyone is attempting to nickel and dime us with micro-transactions… there is a lot of push back happening. Functionally there are two truths about online payments… firstly that the processing company is going to take a transactional chunk of every fee. This has nothing to with Patreon and everything to do with them needing to offset the liability of handling financial transactions to a third party company that does literally nothing but this. Its nothing new to Patreon and just the way online payments work, so that is part one that is becoming transparent now and the cost is being passed on to the supporter instead of being taken out of the creators cut. The second piece is that every online service needs to charge something for their time in order to support the growth of the platform and the employees that the company needs in order to keep things up and running so to speak. Once again this was a feel that used to be obfuscated to the donors and just taken out on the back end from the money paid to the creator. So ultimately more of your money goes to the creators… but it also means that you are having to pay more money out of your pocket. I think of this along the same lines as that ever present $2-3 ATM fee that you just sorta grit your teeth and deal with because if you could actually get to a bank during the painfully limited operating window you would instead of harassing a machine in the back corner of a convenience store.
The problem is that we are wired to think of things in certain patterns and it was very clean to say that you wanted to give a dollar a month to support someone. It felt like you were helping but at the same time felt like such a minuscule amount of money that you would never end up missing it. When you start tacking additional cents onto the end of that for some reason it feels like more… even though once again it is still a tiny amount of money in the grand scheme of things. However it gives you just enough pause to think about the transaction instead of handing off your dollar happily in the process. Now the positive is as far as I understand it… these fees are for the transaction itself… not for the individual donation. So if you give a dollar a month to a dozen people… then you get a single transactional charge on your $12 instead of a bunch of individual fees because Patreon is extracting all of that funding from your account at the same time. You still end up having to pay a cut to Patreon but giving more than one donation at once tends to blunt the blow… which is ultimately what their advisement was trying to say. However it was worded so poorly to make it sound like they were ultimately going to phase out the $1 donations. I got what they were saying… but I also got that the way they were saying it felt shitty. As a result I seeing a report of a mass exodus of those $1 supporters that end up slowly adding up to a lot of money for several folks.
I have a mixed relationship with Patreon because I waffle back and forth regarding what I think about it. There are times where I think it is this great business model and ultimately helps fill the gap between the other monetization vehicles that are available for independent creators out there. There are times I feel like it is the equivalent of internet panhandling and lump it in with all of the insane gofundme campaigns you end up seeing. All of the time it really depends on whether or not I value what is being created… and as a result I try really hard to keep that second reaction in check as a result because I realize my personal preference should not be dictated to everyone. I’ve even kicked around the notion of starting a Patreon myself, but always stop short of doing so because is it really worth the effort? I do not realistically believe that I could ever do “this” for a living, because I am too used to the stable salary of a developer and manager. However there are times I think that it would be amazing for all of this to fund itself… that the blog and podcast and all of the expenses that go with it could somehow make enough money to be “fiscally neutral”. The problem is the second you enter into any sort of additional money coming in separate from your traditional W-2 employer process… you are setting yourself up for a world of Tax time hassle. Right now I figure I would maybe get three to five dollars a month pledged because folks did so out of some weird sense of obligation and then for that extra $50-60 a year it would cause me more headache than it would be worth. I used to do a significant amount of 1099 contract development work and at that point I had a whole system of extra bank accounts to handle filtering off what I thought would be my tax liability and keeping it out of the main stream of money so I simply forgot about it being there until Tax time. That is not a world I am willing to enter back into lightly. So as a result there is still no “Aggronaut” themed Patreon, nor is there any monetization turned on with YouTube… because in both cases it crosses a line that is hard to uncross.