As a lurker for quite some time, I’ve noticed in the past year or so the rise of Patreon amongst Hosted Game creators. The purpose of Patreon, as we all know, being to monetarily support creators as they produce their games.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% all for supporting creators to take the stress off of dedicating their time into creating games we all love and enjoy. However, I’ve found what appears to be (at least to me) a moral grey area in the use of Patreon for private betas.
On one hand, I don’t have to buy a tier on Patreon. Another point is that, well yeah… in order to access a private beta, one should pay for it, right? It’s a perk of being a patron!
Well, yes and no. I see the value in paying to access the private beta; However, as we’ve seen, Choice of Games is no stranger to volunteer private betas. Furthermore, if people are paying just to access the beta content and not really offer constructive feedback, is it really a beta at that point? We can’t guarantee that people will or will not offer feedback for a paid beta compared to a smaller control group of volunteers whose specific purpose is to beta the game.
Going further onto my main issue: People are paying more than once for the same game. As stated previously, sure they get the perk of having the game early. However, Patreon works as a month-to-month payment, usually more than $3 USD for the tier required to access the beta. Sounds cheap in the short-term, but consider this:
Let’s say a game is in development for 1 year. I buy the 3 dollar tier to privately beta the game in January. For the whole calendar year, I paid $36 USD to beta the game, and then have to go and pay another $5-6 USD to purchase the completed game once it’s released.
Now, to take a couple steps back here, I don’t intend this to come off as letting off steam. Rather, I still very much support the notion of giving back to creators and supporting them through Patreon. However, I open this as a discussion topic on the inclusion of beta-access as part of the paid-tiers, as I feel it is a bit against the patrons in the long-term (Though not intentionally.) I would like to hear thoughts from the community on this subject. What do you think of paying for beta access? Could there be suggestions on what to add for Patron Tiers as replacement for it? etc.
(Note: Please don’t call out any games or creators in particular who may do this, out of respect for them. I didn’t create this thread to bash anybody, merely to discuss the subject of Patreon and paid-access-betas.)
@micryee – As a “long time lurker” I am sure you have seen the prior discussions of Patreon. It seems this is a reoccurring topic every six months or so, and as a result it has been addressed by the staff of CoG multiple times and there is even information in the FAQ concerning the issues you raise.
What you are doing is “negative conjecture” … coming to a negative conclusion based on hypothetical assumptions that you put forward as fact.
You claim people are paying for private betas.
I’m afraid that this is an issue that is beyond the scope of what the forum can help with. In this case, you should contact Choice of Games directly by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your evidence and proof.
As to what is and what is not allowed, the following post by @rinari should help. It includes a link to the FAQ, the first place you want to go to for answers if you can:
As you can see, the general rule here is that if an author is not making money on a game, they may post it where they desire. Unfortunately, under the general rule, this does not allow receiving of donations.
At this time, you might be thinking, well Patreon is a form of money making, why are advanced access to beta materials allowed?
If you were savvy enough in your forum usage, you could find the answer by using the Search feature (The magnifying glass in the upper right of the menu bar):
The quoting system is messed up currently, so I bolded the relevant portion below so you can go directly to what is important.
This is from @Fawkes’ conversation with @jasonstevanhill concerning Patreon, both of whom were ok with this being public.
I know that COG prohibits writers from having a donate button of some sort on their game — that you cannot profit off a game unless you purchase a license or publish with Hosted Games — but I also know that COG has (passively?) allowed writers to have Patreons.
My question is: What exactly are the limitations on having a Patreon as someone working on a ChoiceScript game?
You can’t sell copies of the game, or sell advertisements around the game.
** If you use Patreon to create peripheral materials, that’s fine. If you just use Patreon to support yourself while making the game, that’s fine. But you can’t promise or sell anything that directly involves us or that infringes on the product that we would be selling on your behalf.**
That does help. I have one follow-up, though: Are you allowed to offer the chance to alpha test a game as a Patron reward when it is understood that the content they are testing/playing will eventually be publicly available for beta testing?
How I have my Patreon set up is that Patrons of a certain Tier get access to what I call the “Alpha Preview” version of the game — the version of the game that includes much of, if not all, the same content of the version I give to my alpha testers. They’re able to see new scenes as they’re added instead of waiting for the public chapter-based update.
Everything in the Alpha Preview Version will eventually become publicly available to everyone, so they’re not paying for this content. Additionally, supporting me on Patreon is not the only way to get early access to this content — becoming one of my alpha testers is another route, and one does not have to be a Patron to be a tester.
While I’m fairly certain most of my Patrons support me for access to this Alpha Preview version, I do offer other perks, such as a monthly Q&A where nothing is off-limits and I answer spoilerly questions, as well early or even exclusive access to supplemental content (such as the name generator and naming guide, as well as art/speedpaint of a romance option).
I also personally have my Patreon set up so my Patrons are only ever charged when I create this supplemental content. This is to keep them from paying just for access to the Alpha Preview version — something which I would feel weird about — and it also means they only pay when I make good on my promise to create content for them.
All in all, I’ve found Patreon to be a very rewarding experience as an author.
The support I receive from my Patrons — both financial and otherwise — is incredible and utterly invaluable. I am now able to get more feedback on my game on a scene-to-scene basis, which really helps motivate me, and I am better able to handle IRL issues because of the funds I get from Patrons.
Patreon has been incredibly rewarding for me, and I’m very grateful to Jason for allowing authors to use this platform to support themselves. I strongly encourage anyone considering Patreon to take the plunge and make one.
You can always check in with staff if you’re unsure whether how you’re planning to utilize Patreon breaks any rules or not.
Let me repeat this last sentence, because it really is the most important thing to learn from this:
Next time, anyone has questions concerning Patreon, they really should contact CoG support.