More on the Penny Arcade Kickstarter

It’s late, and the next part of the #OccupyTea series is substantially far away from completion and is probably going to undergo substantial revision before it goes up, so I want to say a little more about the Penny Arcade Kickstarter. I’ll probably have a more complete takedown later, but right now I want to tackle the way the PA guys are positioning this, that “rather than work for advertisers, we want to work for you”. Evidently, Gabe and Tycho would rather not be employing an ad sales staff and meeting the content needs of advertisers, and would rather devote the time and money currently going towards advertising towards creating new and better content instead.

This strikes me as a really, really, really, really weak argument, and it further weakens the notion that this represents any sort of breakthrough for other webcomics artists. Perhaps the PA guys have run the numbers and decided that having a dedicated ad sales team and personal relationships with advertisers would, even after considering the cost of said team, pay substantially more than Google or Project Wonderful ads to justify the expense in time, money, and integrity (assuming PA actually does lose any artistic or editorial integrity) over simply slapping on ads and passively monitoring whatever shows up on them. Even if so, would PA,¬†one of if not the most popular webcomics on the Internet, actually still lose the ability to do all the things they want to do as a result of the Kickstarter by switching to Google or Project Wonderful, or some other such ad service? And considering that the vast majority of webcomics already use such services and so avoid the problems Gabe and Tycho want to avoid, would they actually gain anything from PA‘s success?

I don’t mean to denigrate a group of creators that understand how the Internet works a lot better than most big media corporations, with or without the Kickstarter. If PA can convince those big media corporations to embrace the Internet as well, more power to them. My worry is that what they are doing is wholly unnecessary and undermines other people trying to also make some money on the Internet or from Kickstarter. To the people Robert Khoo says come up to him and ask how they can support PA when they block ads and don’t buy merchandise, I say, “Penny Arcade runs one of the biggest entertainment and gaming expos on the planet. They don’t need your support. Instead, give your money to someone else who’s operating off the same basic model but doesn’t have PA‘s wild success.”

(And turn off your damn Adblock. Adblock should default to off with a blacklist for sites with bad ads, not default to on with a whitelist for sites with good ads.)

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