People don't like advertising almost as a general rule; Advertising is simply The Way It Is. People who make content learn to like it, because they want to make content, and they also want to eat food and sleep under a roof, and the opportunity to do both at the same time seems like a pretty good idea.
After the "dot com bubble," we ran the site entirely on donations for over a year. The word crowdfunding hadn't been invented yet; back then, people simply called it "begging," but I think it's clear that those days are long past. We look back on that period with incredible fondness, and I don't think we're the only ones. It was just two of us then, not the juggernaut that it is now; we have mouths to feed, as it were. I think we had assumed it wasn't possible to do it that way anymore - to operate a site at this scale without advertising dollars - but it occurred to us that we'd never actually asked. People often want to know how they can support the site in a way that doesn't involve t-shirts or looking at advertising, and I think we may have a way. What I'm saying is that we want to sell out, and we would love to sell out to you.
How Do You Intend To Do That
By doing this.
That's for the amount you see on the right. If it turns out to be something people want to see, or not see as the case may be, we'll add stretch goals to restore old services we used to offer, convert the entire site to a Creative Commons license, and ultimately remove every ad from the site for an entire year. We intend to be a company that succeeds by making things, specifically things for you, and are orienting ourselves toward that goal.
So, we're turning to you. Would scouring ads from Penny Arcade, with everything that entails, be something you’d be willing to reach into your pocket for? The more we considered it, the more we agreed it might just be. Not only would you no longer have to look at advertising when browsing Penny Arcade, but not having ads would create a chain reaction that would lead to a bunch of other interesting stuff. Without the almighty "pageview" to consider, why not populate the RSS with full comics and posts? Why not enable and even encourage apps, first and third party, for people to read it however they damn well please?
That seems pretty compelling to us, but in keeping with Kickstarter tradition we’ve greased the wheels with a buffet of backer rewards and stretch goals. This is an amazing experiment in our opinion. If it doesn’t work Penny Arcade will be fine. We’ll keep going just like before with no interruption in service and nothing will change. But if it did work, I mean, wow.
That would be something.
One of the things that excited us most about the idea of trying an ad-free model was the amount of time it would give us to actually make comics. Currently, we do all kinds of creative services projects that are part of the existing model, but in their absence, that's all time we can put to work for you. We have a ton of weird settings, and ideas for more, that are simply not possible with the schedule the current system imposes. What we're talking about would be new projects, in settings you already like, that run ALONGSIDE the week's comics, not in their place. Like, oh, I don't know... THIS?!?
We have quite a year planned, if you're game.
Update #2: $325k Stretchgoal
We're just revealing things right and left around here. It would be our great pleasure to acquaint you with Automata: Silverside in lieu of our typical "creative services" work. The first of these projects unlocks at $325,000, and we're chomping at the bit. Or champing at it; I can never remember if you chomp or champ. In any case, there won't be anything left of this bit by the time we're done. We're going crazy on it!
Update #4: Penny Arcade Leaderboard Stretch Goal Unlocked! Stretchgoals up to $999k revealed.
It's unbelievable, but the campaign has reached our first funding goal of $250k in four days. We've been blown away by the support thus far, and the interest from people outside the industry makes us think we might be on to something here.
As promised, we are revealing the stretch goals up to $999k ... behold! (check out the updated list up top!) The new goals we've revealed are:
- Jerry Cosplay: Jerry has agreed to Cosplay as the character of the community's choice (by vote) for one day at both PAX East 2013 and PAX Prime 2013.
- Strip Search Web Show: Discussed in a flurry of tweets, Penny Arcade: The Series Season 4 will be our version of America's Next Top Webcomic titled... STRIP SEARCH. This incredibly ambitious and expensive production will bring together over 10 up and coming webcomic hopefuls for a week of grueling challenges and horrifying social experiments, hosted by Mike and Jerry. For what? A considerable cash prize and integration into the Penny Arcade offices for one year.
- Twisp & Catsby Children's Book (free online): Mike and Jerry will create and publish online (for free) a Twisp & Catsby Children's Book.
- Original Tabletop Adventure: Mike and Jerry will write a completely original tabletop adventure, not tied to any particular system, to be released for free.
- Free PA Comic Reader developed for iOS and Android
- PA Blanks/Creative Common License: We will release, with each Monday, Wednesday and Friday strip, a blank version of the comic (art without word balloons) for your editing and remixing enjoyment. In addition, we will open the ENTIRE PA archive to a Creative Common License under CC BY-NC-SA.
Update #5: Automata Project Unlocked, More Lookouts Info, Comic Sketch Reward and Additional Q&As!
We’ve just crossed the $325,000 mark, meaning the Automata strip for 2013 is LOCKED IN. As a teaser, Mike created this image to give you an idea of what’s in in store:
Our next goal is to make Jerry cosplay as whatever you want him to, which for those in the office is VERY EXCITING. If that goal is met, we’ll first open submissions via an online survey, and then select the top 5 choices by raw #s. From there, we’ll have another online vote-off.
Looking down a bit further on the stretch goal list, Jerry also wrote this piece to go along with a new sketch by Mike for the Lookouts, Daughters of Eyrewood:
killed her father
look at what her
blood has bought her
New Reward - Original Comic Pencil Sketch
This isn’t a reward you’ll find on the right side but is actually one that applies to ANYONE that contributes more than $2,500. You will receive in the mail, one of the original pencil sketches from the Penny Arcade archives (and for those donating $5k, you’ll receive two, and so on).
These sketches are what are scanned in and digitally inked, so each online strip has ONE pencil sketch associated with it. These are the ORIGINALS. (please note, the strip you receive will be at random) Since Mike no longer does the pencil sketches ahead of time, this part in the process no longer exists making these extra rare.
We've also updated the FAQ with some additional questions. Please check them out below!
Update #6: $350k reached, new rewards added!
We crossed the $350,000 mark over the weekend, so it looks like this thing has some legs. After listening to a ton of feedback, we have a few more rewards that may interest you!
Precipice Promotional 1 GB Flash Drives - $250 (30 available)
When we made Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1, we had manufactured 50 USB Credit Card drives (seen here) for media kits, etc. With this reward level you’ll receive this Flash Drive in the mail filled with the digital versions of Books 1 and 2 and the remastered Jerry tracks! We have two versions of the drive (Gabe and Tycho) – which you receive will be picked at random. Add $10 for International addresses.
1 lb of Jerry’s Coffee Roast - $300 (10 available)
Jerry will ship to you a one pound bag of his signature coffee beans that he roasts himself. Add $10 for International addresses.
Logo Design by PA Design - $1500 (10 available)
Give Kiko and Erika the name of your company and a synopsis of what exactly it is you do, and delivered to you will be the one-colour AI/PDF/PSD files for your further manipulation. This is the team that designed the PAX Logo, the Trenches Logo, the Child’s Play logo, etc.
Brew with Jerry - $2500 (4 available)
It’s no secret Jerry loves brewing, and this reward gives you the opportunity to brew with Jerry in Seattle. You only need to handle your transportation, and Jerry will take care of the rest. Must be 21 or older.
Ping Pong. Your Team vs. Team Inferno - $5000 (1 available)
Invite you and up to 9 of your friends for an officially sanctioned match against Team Inferno in Seattle, WA. The most expensive pizza you have ever purchased will be included. You just need to handle transportation.
PA will crash your birthday party - $5000 (1 available)
Mike and Jerry and possibly some other people will crash your party and totally eat all of your food and drink everything in your fridge. Must be in the Seattle area.
Khoo will plan your bachelor party - $7500 (1 available)
This is for planning and day-of execution only. Robert Khoo will take whatever your pre-determined budget is and plan a… uh… experience for you and your friends. A more detailed description to this reward would be against the code. See PA:TS S02E28 for reference.
Mike and Jerry DM - $8000 (1 available)
Mike and Jerry will be your DM for you and 3 of your friends, running an adventure just for you. You just need to handle transportation to Seattle.
We’ve also been getting some really interesting ideas for stretchgoals from readers – if you want to suggest some before we announce our next set of them, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Update #8: The Final Cosplay Vote + More details on Strip Search
(Note: Skipped #7 since it was just the initial cosplay vote)
We've crossed the $375k mark, meaning Jerry is on the hook for cosplaying as the character of your choice. We did open submissions in Update #7, and after over 15,000 suggestions, here are the top 5 to vote on:
2. Sailor Moon
3. The Fruit Fucker
5. Yummy Chan
Honorable mentions go to Strawberry Shortcake and Lollipop Chainsaw. ;)
Alright, vote here!
Gabe also just posted an update on Penny Arcade about Strip Search, but you can read it here as well:
I admit to being a huge fan of reality tv style game shows. I love shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Hell’s Kitchen, and Master Chef. I even watch shows like Ink Master and Shear Genius. It doesn’t matter if it’s singers, chefs, fashion designers or gardeners. I love watching groups of people pushed together to compete at something they are good at. I don’t know a thing about cooking or dancing but I can’t get enough of these game shows. I’m always amazed when the challenge is something like “make a fruit tart” and one guy says “shit I’ve never made a fruit tart before” and then he proceeds to make a fucking fruit tart. I could never do that and maybe that’s why I love watching it so much. Could you pull a theme out of a hat and then write and draw a comic strip about it? Probably not, but I’m guessing you might like to watch people who can.
That’s the idea for our new show Strip Search. It is the next goal in our Kickstarter and It is a reality game show for web cartoonists. Like any of these other shows I mentioned it is about watching incredibly talented people face off in a competition with a reward that could change their life.
In the case of Strip Search we are talking about ten people. Each one of them a talented cartoonist. They will all live together in a house here in Seattle. They will compete in a series of challenges that will test their skills and we will slowly whittle them down until we are left with one winner. This cartoonist will win a cash prize along with integration into the Penny Arcade machine. That means a studio in our office but it also means access to our business people, our merchandising operation, our designers, and our ping pong table. The winner will get plugged into the Penny Arcade family for one year. We will not own any of their work, and there will be no evil contract to sign. We will just be there to support them and help grow their comic in a way that very few other organizations could.
Tycho and I will be the hosts and participate in the judging but we won’t be alone. We are very lucky to have friends in every corner of the industry from syndicated newspaper comics to book publishers, and web comic pioneers. We’ll be bringing these folks in as guest judges and mentors throughout the competition. You’ll also see everyone here in the office working with these contestants. It’s a huge undertaking for us but incredibly exciting I think.
There is something magical about watching a comic strip come together. I think Strip Search is a show that could appeal to a much bigger audience than anything we’ve done before on PATV. So if you could help us get the word out I’d appreciate it. Tell your friends who like reality TV and tell them to tell their friends. I’d love to see Strip Search get funded and if it does we are very close to the goal of all ads removed from the home page and our Daughters of the Eyrewood Lookouts comic.
Update #9: More Lookouts Art, a New Reward, FAQ Update, Jerry Cosplay
With 15 days left, we've raised almost $400,000, which is nearly a half-a-million dollars, which is basically a million! Right? Or...? Listen. We don't have time to thrill you with our incredible mathematics right now. It's time to reveal the terrifying revelations of Kickstarter Update 9!
Gabe drew more concept art for Daughters of the Eyrewood to further entice you:
I know this level seems out there, but we still have 15 days! We are also adding another reward level at $50 for a hi-resolution, 8.5” x 11” print of the above Lookouts image sent to your door. Please add $5 for international addresses. (this level also includes all previous rewards!)
Jerry Cosplay Poll Results!
I'll be honest, I'm actually a little shocked at the result. The winner is... the Fruit Fucker? I just feel like... that doesn't have a lot of shame-factor to it. This was an opportunity to really get some ridiculous photos of Jerry, and the community chose the Fruit Fucker? All right, we'll try to do something with it that will maximize embarrassment.
Oh! And I forgot to mention in the last update with honorable mentions that we also got a lot of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew suggestions, which would have also been really funny.
Update #10: Kickstarter Shirt Revealed!
We’re less than $40k away from hitting our Strip Search stretchgoal, and we figured you would want to see the Exclusive Kickstarter T-Shirt commemorating the campaign!
This is at the $150 reward level and also includes The Dickstarter Print, Digital Versions of Books 1 and 2, Remastered Digital Singles of Jerry’s PA musical works, an 8.5” x 11” print of the Lookouts image from Update #9, a copy of Rainslick 3, names for your band AND your pet by Jerry, thoughts of you during coitus from Mike, and of course, the glue that holds this whole campaign together, Mike chasing a duck around while he shouts your name.
Update #11: Strip Search UNLOCKED! Call for entries begins NOW.
We’ve just hit the $450k/Strip Search stretchgoal! We move fast, so it’s time to get the process rolling. May I present to you, the initial call for entries.
As mentioned in previous updates, the winner will get office space (for free!) at Penny Arcade HQ in Seattle, WA AND access to all of our facilities and resources (Mike, Jerry, Biz Guys, Merch Guys, etc) for one year on top of a $15,000 cash prize.
The deadline to submit is midnight, 8/24/2012 (TWO WEEKS FROM NOW). What you’re applying for is to be on our new reality show, Strip Search, later this year. The process to get to our final participants will be incredibly thorough, so please know this is only the first of many steps.
Some quick notes on the show:
There will be no cost to you, other than your time.
You will be asked to sign a video release.
You will be asked to sign an NDA.
You will NOT be asked to sign anything regarding the rights to your existing or future works.
You need to be 18 or older and legally be able to enter the United States.
You will need to take about two weeks of your life later this year for this and this alone.
If there are any other questions, please ask them below, and I'll get them answered. Thanks, and good luck!