CoG/HG Gifting

Sort of an unsolicited revenue slash community idea.

Problem?: Having spent a wildly unproductive amount of time on Reddit and reading platform reviews of CoG/HG titles, I’ve noticed a recurring objection: price (not surprisingly).

Solution: When I think of a younger version of myself wanting to read, say, VtM: Night Road, but not being able to afford it, it makes me sad a little. If there were a way to do it, I could and would buy ten copies today for people who wanted to read it but couldn’t.

Proposal:

  1. A pinned thread which pairs people who want to read a title but can’t afford to purchase it, with people wanting to support people interested in the same IF stories as them. This model might be too embarrassing for some people–so maybe a pinned prompt?
  2. A transparent anonymous third-party fund that allows one person to gift another a game, pre-selected or not. Somewhat like Kofi. You could “set aside” a certain book for as soon as someone wanted that one. Or, you could gift an amount without a book in mind. Would require minimal curating.
    (I know an unfortunate amount about fiscal accountability, if we like the idea and wanted to try it out.)

Not only would this help company sales and author exposure without dipping into company or author profits, it would give community members a way to demonstrate support. Could change what community means, especially in light of recent clashes. We would, of course, want to track transactions for abuse. Maybe some giftees could pledge to return the favor down the line, when they’re able to? Also, we could tie a couple of giftings into @KaiDeleon 's stream for synergy. Hell, authors might even gift a set number of their own books in a series to stimulate a readership. Sorry if this is needlessly meddlesome.

@jasonstevanhill

15 Likes

I think this is a really nice idea. I mean abuse of a system like this is an obvious concern and one that somebody better suited than me would have to comment on but I do think it’s such a generous gesture. Having lived in poverty myself, I know how it feels to barely scrape by and just want something small and nice for yourself but be burdened by guilt (self imposed or otherwise) over even the thought of asking for assistance, so my main concern, coming from that perspective, would be, as you mentioned, limiting embarrassment. Perhaps, if going for idea #1, a thread for this just allowing people to announce that they have x number of gifts (specific games or not) set aside and then people could privately message? Though I like idea #2 very much as well. I would be concerned about dropping that workload onto a singular person though. Having to maintain it regularly and submit… reports, I guess you’d call them, to maintain accountability could get overwhelming if it picks up. Plus, the question then becomes who they and gifters/giftees are accountable to. Who is seeing these reports? Community release would sort of backfire if part of the goal is discretion. Still, to reiterate, I think it’s a really kind and generous idea and would be interested in seeing how it could be implemented.

4 Likes

Hmm, I would batch them to save time. For instance, all gifts might be done from 5-7pm on Wednesday. That way, it isn’t piecemeal as gifts and requests come in, which takes up more time. If it gets to where it takes more than one person for 2hrs/wk, I daresay you’d have proof of concept enough to give it more attention.

I think a shared PayPal account is the most honest way. Then, relevant staff/volunteers have automated records. Plus, transactions classified as personal bypass taxation. The frequency of the reports, I think, would be determined by gifting. For instance, it could be a single line on a pinned thread, weekly: This week, thanks to your contributions, we were able to gift 27 games to people who wanted but couldn’t afford them.

Good point! Though, this might be embarrassing for gifters who don’t want to make a big deal about it. Maybe the pinned thread just lists instructions for DM-ing a designated person who keeps a running list of gift books/amounts and requests.

Thanks for running through possible bumps with me! @levviathan

4 Likes

Those are all really great ideas/workarounds! It seems like you’ve put a lot of thought into this, which is so great and I’d love to see this implemented.

Agreed! Hadn’t even thought of it that way, tbh.

Do you foresee the need for some sort of giftee verification (I can’t imagine what this would look like and I wouldn’t envy the job of making that call or creating a system for it) or do you think the honor system would hold up well enough? I hate to seem like I’m already pointing fingers, because that isn’t my intention. I just imagine that at the very least the question of gaming the system and how that could be curtailed would come up.

3 Likes

Verification might be somewhat automated if the books are gifted directly to the reader’s CoG account (rather than iPhone, Android, . . . at least at first). So, workflow would look like:

  1. DM via forum. (Probably a passive IP address check here, already built in)
  2. Request or Gift logged in shared work document–Google Drive?
  3. Personal Paypal gift, if giver. (Auto-logged)
  4. Batched gifting to CoG site accounts–there may be some password sharing, but that may already be happening. (Auto-logged)
  5. Weekly, Monthly, Annual gifting report. (1 line doable in <1min)

I think it would stimulate positive community to allow for giftees to write anonymous thank yous to anonymous givers. Using the same DM-ed intermediary.

I think it’s possible. But it would be a lot of work to go through. If someone had the time, skillset, and interest to bypass tech scrutiny for IF games, I’d probably offer them the job of managing the requests in exchange for unlimited free books. :upside_down_face:

I don’t think you’re being negative at all. It’s important to poke holes, I think. @levviathan

6 Likes

Oh, sorry, I think I miscommunicated. I meant more in terms of those who are able but unwilling to pay for games abusing the system. I mean in most cases, I’m more of a “benefit the needy at the cost of the dishonest few,” and that would still be my stance here, but I wonder if others would feel the same way or want some sort of verification system in place to curtail those types of users. Though I personally don’t think that subjecting people to something like that would fit with the spirit the project, I could understand hesitation from some to donate money or gifts without that in place. But I guess at the end of the day, they can always weigh that choice themselves so maybe it’s really a non-issue after all. Plus, all that aside and just looking at it from a numbers perspective, sales are sales and that’s good for pretty much everyone involved.

4 Likes

I like the idea but I can also see @levviathan concerns. Linking to CoG accounts is one option although it is easy to create a new account.

Another potential issue would be if there were 10 requests for a popular book that just came out. Who to give it to? First come first serve? Does a sponsor have a say in it (to make things more complicated?)

Love the idea!

6 Likes

This is a fun idea!

FYI, it’s already possible to give CoG and HG games as gifts on Steam using the Steam Gift system.

When you buy a Steam game, there’s a box you can check, “Purchase as a gift,” which will allow you to give a game directly to a friend on Steam.

Confusingly, Steam has both “Steam Gifts” and “Steam Gift Cards,” which are completely different. Steam Gift Cards are short codes of letters and numbers that turn into $20 of Steam credit that the recipient can spend on any game they want. With Steam Gifts, you ensure that the recipient will receive the game you chose, not a $20 credit on a game of their choice.

9 Likes

I hadn’t thought of this. I’m inclined to think of it in terms of breakage. Like, there’s an acceptable margin of loss. I have to believe exploiters would be in the minority. Even if it were as high as 1/10, I think it would be worth it for the other 9. We could further hedge by asking people who were gifted a copy to write a review. Coupled with the “chain of kindness” suggestion that they buy one for someone else when they can afford to, I think we’d “convert” exploiters. Or, at a minimum, positively engage them. @levviathan

This is a really helpful consideration. My first thought isn’t to the question. That’s that things tend to be 30-40% off at release. So if we had pre-sales gifting queue, gifting amount might go far enough to get everyone? But, back to your question: I think a lottery would be a fair way to do it. Say 25 people gifted a copy of Parliment of Knives, and 100 people were on the gift list. I think I’d use a third-party lottery system via DM. You could publicize the drawing on the stream (not to anyone’s embarrassment) Probably, I would ask everyone to do something nice to “earn” their lottery ticket, like thank a mod for something they helped them with. Then: 25 reviews, 25 free copies, people nice to mods, and community. TL;DR: a lottery system. @lisamarlin

This is a viable option! If alternatives exist, we could just ask the giftee which platform they want their title on (Android, Apple Store, . . . I personally like to read on my iPad). Unless the benefit skews more to the company on a particular platform–then we should bend toward that. Like if the margins are better for CoG on its own site. I don’ think it’s a bad consideration. Since we’re practicing something like conscientiousness, we might as well include the enabling platform. I like it as a partial solution to some of the infighting. @dfabulich

3 Likes

Again, happy and impressed to see your ideas! And I agree with all points. I just think this is a really, really great idea. :sparkles:

3 Likes

Perhaps that is a feature that could be used in the omnibus App similar to the Steam store, the gifting user would need the e-mail Adress of the person he gifts. It would be a more Personal process.

Or when you gift bis a game you could get a gift code, that can only be used once.

I personally think it is better to make the gifts in a more Personal kind of way, than spending money to a Pool.
But thats just my opinion.

5 Likes

In theory, I think this is a really great idea, and I do think that it could work with qualifications in practice. My only issue with it is that I feel like some people may try to game the system– I know for a fact that this is something I would take advantage of at my worst. Still, I think this is a really stellar idea.

2 Likes

Unless anyone tells me not to, I’m going to run a ten-book trial using Steam Gifts, per Dan’s advice. On Monday, I’ll post an explanation. I’ll allow 2 weeks for people to submit their Steam user name and desired game via DM, otherwise anonymously. At the end of 2 weeks, I’ll do a lottery. I’ll link the thread and then the lottery statistics here.

4 Likes

Steam seems like the best option — just wanted to point out that even if the game is purchased there, you can email COG with proof of purchase (or proof of ownership, I suppose, if it’s been given to you as in this case :thinking:) and have it unlocked in the mobile omnibus and the COG site as well, so users who prefer to play on mobile would still be able to do so.

5 Likes

This is terrific. And of course it can and probably will be exploited, but who cares? We’re not responsible for the choices others make, that’s something they have to live with. No sense letting folks like that ruin a good thing.

5 Likes

This is such a thoughtful idea, thank you for thinking of it and being so proactive!

5 Likes

I’m so excited to see that you’re going ahead with it!! That’s so great!!

3 Likes

Post in General awaiting Moderator approval. Will link if/when approved.

4 Likes

And . . . here it is, Thanks, mods. :beers:

3 Likes

Sorry if it feels like I’m over-dramatizing. I’m just going to post periodic updates here because I feel like I should be accountable to someone with all the purchases flying around.

-So much positive response. I wish I could share some of the messages. Maybe, after the draw and with permission, I can sterilize the names and make a master list to share with everyone. Doesn’t feel like something I should hog to myself.

-I may have to conduct the drawing differently. More people are into purchasing specific titles for people, and I should have expected that. It makes sense, really, to want to support a specific author and share a title you enjoyed. And I don’t want to discourage that. So, I’m going to pair specific requests with specific gifts until those are exhausted, and then use the unspecified gifts to cover the excess.

-Originally, I’d intended to limit the books to one per recipient. Mostly, I plan to except in the cases where someone wants to buy multiple books in the same series for one reader. Also, if there’s books left over at the end, I will let the gifter decide.

-Originally, I’d intended to do a control group of ten books, but we’re well past that. I thought I’d just go with whatever number we have on the last day of the month.

-Before I make the purchases on the 1st, I’d like to present an Excel sheet with all the pairings to a mod just for blameless double-check fairness. If anyone would agree to it, it seems like the most honest way to do things. I’ll try to organize it so that it will only take a minute of moderator time. [Mod please]

10 Likes