Comments on: Patronage and Game Development Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:53:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Brandon Tue, 28 Jul 2009 02:17:21 +0000 Why would someone dilute the value of a limited edition copy? For kicks. It only takes 1 such person to make a copy, then the "I'm a patron" barrier is gone. Same with software piracy. Only 1 person has to buy the game in order to rip it off for everyone else. Cynically, the pirates could take up a collection pool. Or, some patron parts with his limited edition copy at some point, and the new owner doesn't have the same warm fuzzies about it being limited edition as the original owner did.

By: Ian Schreiber Tue, 02 Dec 2008 19:11:00 +0000 I was actually talking with Brenda about this awhile ago. One thing you say that I disagree with:

You can make limited edition or private runs of a book. You can’t really do this for a video game, because games are digital media that can be easily copied.

Books can be easily copied too. You can scan it in by hand, or even take it to a copy shop and let them do it for you. Google Books? Online checkout of library e-books? I don’t see the distinction between this and games.

I can give you an original, limited-edition copy of a game on CD. Yes, it’s theoretically possible for you to copy it… but if you were a patron and the whole point was for you to own a limited-edition game, why would you dilute the value of the very thing you patronized? It seems to me that the types of people who want the game to be freely available are not the people who would patronize such a project in the first place.

So I would ask, why not? I expect the model would look similar to the older patronage models: wealthy game enthusiast hires indie game studio to make a game for them; or, indie studio pitches a game concept, seeking sponsors. Financially, it’s the difference between selling a few thousand copies at $10 each in the Wal-mart value rack versus selling one copy at $100,000 (or a hundred copies at $1,000). Sponsors get the prestige of owning an incredibly rare title. I don’t know if it’d actually work or not, but I see no reason why it should inherently fail.

I could also see a more gentle variant of Open Design where the artist does intend to sell their work, but they still make a special “limited edition” available to the initial patrons. The LE version would be just like the pre-order specials at Gamestop: maybe it includes original concept art, a “making of” essay, or even just a t-shirt; maybe the CD is hand-signed by the developer(s), perhaps even numbered like LE art prints; or maybe the LE game comes with a full-color printed instruction manual, while normal versions just have a soft-copy PDF.

Another question: where do you draw the line between patronage and mass market? Do advergames follow the traditional “patronage” model, since a single benefactor (the advertising company) hires a studio to make them a custom work — never mind that they then reproduce and distribute the game for free, as such a thing is their right? Could you argue that a 3rd party developer is actually working on the patronage model, in that they’re really developing their game for a single patron (i.e. the publisher)?

By: Patrick Tue, 25 Nov 2008 20:34:00 +0000 You should check out Core Talent Games:

They’re doing an option – finance round – digitally distribute with back-end for the designer model, which seems like a mature convergence between the market model and the patron model, if implemented correctly. I’m generally not so big a fan of donate and spend models to try and do good, because such models are less effective as proliferating the desired goal than invest-gross profit- reinvest models.

On the other hand Jason Rohrer has a patron, but when I mention this to starving indie artists they just get pissed because they want one. Not enough charity to go around.

By: Andrew Sun, 23 Nov 2008 22:14:00 +0000 Wow, interesting stuff. I’ve no idea how tenable it is for digital works – but I don’t see why a proper contract couldn’t sort the ownership problems, distribution problems. It’d be like a publisher funding a game (or part of it) – except patrons would be less distributors, and more creatively interested in the game.

I’d certainly like to see it attempted, if any rich millionaire wanted it!