The Penny Arcade Kickstarter

I had a weird flashback this morning to choir back in high school. A friend and I were discussing webcomics and I was like “oh cool!” and he suggested Penny Arcade. I went to the site, checked out the page and couldn’t work my way around the navigation. They had small buttons and archive issues and after 20 minutes of trying to get into a grove I went back to reading Dominic Deegan (and holy crap was that years ago).
A few years later once I had working wireless and a laptop I went through, read through the archives and was like “Ok, this isn’t amazing but they improved over time.” I bought their first two games for my Mac two years later when I was sunk down with depression and they were okay. I ended up watching Penny Arcade TV which was okay again.
Penny Arcade has been this always there, but nothing really special force for me. I’d had other favorite video game comics come up and when I stopped caring about games I’d still read it.
But Penny Arcade has done good things with it’s money that I like. The Child’s Play Charity is something that I can get behind. Hosting the Extra Credits video series is pretty fantastic because the series is really well done. I have a group of friends who go to at least one PAX every year and they rave about it. And despite some of the stuff tied to Scott Kurtz, I’ve enjoyed other videos on the Penny Arcade TV thing.
So you get where I am coming from – I don’t hate the Penny Arcade guys. I wish I had their success and money so I could do something but I don’t actively oppose them – but I really hate their Kickstarter – not because of them, but because it is a poorly run Kickstarter.
I’ve run a few Kickstarters, I’ve paid into a few and I’ve had friends do the same so I support the work that I do. It is a great tool to try and get donations easily while also giving people something worthwhile for their hard earned money. It is a way to honestly show your appreciation for what people do. Penny Arcade has now infamously done this in the one of the worst possible fashions (though not as good as the Kickstarter about a bet who would go to hell and Osama Bin Laden who was a demon.)

The Goal

The first thing you should need is an actual goal to achieve. Penny Arcade wants to cut down on their ads. And how are they doing this? They want to raise $250k to $1 million dollars to fund a year of this ad free lifestyle. This seems ridiculous not because I don’t believe that Penny Arcade doesn’t make $1 in ads per year – I believe they do, but getting read of the ads doesn’t do much for the people reading the comic. Half the ads are for their own merch a lot of the time. The other half are for legitimate companies that might be of interest to the consumers. Game companies advertise there for a reason – because it is a site about game culture. Now I don’t believe they mentioned if this was the case – but if the video ads are going to be removed – that would be something I might understand but raising $1 million dollars to get rid of ads when there are ad blockers out their and when most people don’t give a crap – it seems heinous. (Though if it fails and they put on popup ads and ads with sound – then I’d donate- wait I’d stop visiting then.)

The Prizes

The prizes are something that most people have issues with. $1 gets you a thank you – that is a basic prize. I mean, I offered a digital pdf of a 40+ page comic with the last Changeling one but I guess a thank you is fine. But then they get insulting really fast. A certificate for $15. That certificate (and thank you) better come with some cut out puppets or something because you can become an ordained minister for less.
$25 gets you a digital copy of their previously unreleased book? You could get their 11.5 Year Anniversary book for the same price and that is an actual book. This level should be $10-15 tops. If mailing an envelope costs more than $5 a pop and you are paying for hosting that would make sending the book more than $2 you have some serious business issues.
I have no idea what the term “Tycho’s Penny Arcade Singles” means but from titles like “My Belruel” and “Are You Really A Woman?” I am guessing that it might be a failed smooth jazz album. But for $75 you could buy 15 $5 albums from Amazon.
$100 gets you another digital book – this time it is the second collection. And remember these are the comics when the art was still lacking and the jokes were worse. The Kickstarter for the Order of the Stick has a $94 dollar level that got you three physical books plus digital comics plus a magnet. And you could order extra books. And Rich Burlew raised over 1 million.
At $125 you get a print. So if you want a penis that got signed and illustrated here is your chance. And it is limited to just the Kickstarter. I will also print out a picture of a penis that I drew if you give me not $125, not $75 but exactly $20. And that will go towards hosting Nerdcenaries and my other projects or Netflix or going to conventions.
$150 gets you everything so far and a shirt. Jumping up only $25 for a shirt seems amazing. Amazingly small. I mean the shirts in the store run for about $18 so it isn’t super expensive – except that you know, you also have to have put in $125 dollar for other stuff.
$300 gets you followed by Gabe or Tycho for one year or as I like to think of it, they’ll scroll past what you write. Just like most of the followers I scroll past when I first get up (because 8 hours of Tweets add up). Note: They do only follow 20 or so people. Also Tycho seems to be barely active on it so – value! Also this is the point where you only get these prizes. No prints or shirts or if you get them it is not clear.
$500 gets your message retweeted to the 80,000+ people who are following Gabe and Tycho. Also remember – it’ll be your face showing up in the Twitt screen so they will totally not skip over it. Though for $375, this company promises to reach 100,000 people.
$750 gets you a seat at the taping of Penny Arcade The Series – but you must fly there so that is just an extra $50 to $400 depending on where you are so you too can cheer loudly and maybe ask a question.
$1000 makes you a friend of Tycho or Gabe on X-box LIVE for a year! And just that. God, really? I mean this is the point where it gets freaking ridiculous. You can set up games and yell obscenities at them! Of course, you’d need to donate $2000 for both of them and where is the value without a full set.
or for $1000 you can join the shirt of the month club. It is just like that Venture Bros Weekly one – except it costs $1000 and it is Penny Arcade instead of the Venture Bros. God, when is Venture Bros coming back?
$2000 gets you a 5 year pass for every PAX event. If there are two main events that would have $65 three day passes every year you are gonna save -$1350 going there! Where you could also meet Gabe and Tycho. For much less money. And force yourselves on them. Or on some other nerdy fading star.
$5000 gets you lunch in Seattle with the business team of Penny Arcade. I guess being able to talk to them might lead to something but – what? If it turned into an interview that is just no… Also you need to get yourself there.
Or for $5000 you can get a play date with Penny Arcade with a friend – it is like a double date except there is less (maybe) change of getting knocked up. Also pizza and games. And still – you get to take yourself their on your own dime. And currently 2 of these have been sold.
$7500 lets you work for them! It will be just like the year plus I’ve worked for LBFA except I did it for free and – seriously – $7500 and they still make you fly out there? Okay, almost done!
$25000 gets you a painting by Gabe, medium sized.
$25000 gets you a dinner and a tour and ice cream! (and hopefully not getting drugged)!
$100000 gets you a cameo in a comic.

God. I mean seriously. Cut almost all of these down to a quarter of the price. Look at Rich Burlew’s Kickstarter for how to do this shit.
I can say that I know this Kickstarter is going to succeed. There are millions of readers – the comic has more readers than the Marvel and DC lineups. But this Kickstarter is charging a lot for a lot of overpriced stuff. At a charity fundraise like Child’s Play this might be acceptable but you guys are fully grown adults who run a business that already makes money – a great deal of it, and you are asking for money so you don’t have to have ads – a problem that is a non-problem.
Screw that. Enjoy your money pool. I am gonna go do something else.

Luke Herr

Luke is a writer and an aspiring professional comic writer who is also the editor in chief of Nerdcenaries. He currently is working on a graphic novel called Prison Spaceship.