NONE OF THIS MATTERS! THE MORONS AT PATREON CHANGED THEIR MINDS! GO READ THIS INSTEAD!
First of all, I’m dropping my mask. I’m not The Angry GM, right now. I’m Scott Rehm. Writer and occasional freelance and future game designer. Creator of The Angry GM website. No masks. This is important.
Second of all, this only affects Patreon supporters. If you don’t financially support my work via Patreon, this won’t mean anything to you yet. But if you support ANYONE on Patreon, you should know what’s going on. And, depending on how bad the fallout is, in one month, it may effect whether The Angry GM site is still here for you to read.
Patreon is making changes to the way it works. The way it charges supporters and funnels the money to creators. They are making those changes in a little over a week. They have been very poor in communicating those changes and have given us creators no advance warning. As a result, yesterday, December 6, 2017, I posted a message explaining the changes. Last night, they suddenly and sneakily released some additional information by updating their FAQ page which changes what I said yesterday. In the interest of complete clarity, I am putting out this new post. I am leaving yesterday’s post up with a link to this update. And I’m going to go over everything. But first, I don’t want to bury the lede. So, this is exactly what is going to change for you.
Starting on December 18, Patreon will now be charging you a transaction fee for each and every pledge you make to each and every creator you support. The amount of the fee will be added to each pledge you make. The fee is $0.35 + 2.9% of the pledge. That means, if you pledge $1.00 per month to some creator, you will be charged $1.38 at the end of the month. If that creator posts four pieces of content and you pledge to support per content item, you will be charged that fee per pledge. If you support me at the level of $1.00 per article per month, you will be charged $1.38 per article for a total of $5.52 per month. The more creators and content you support, the more fees you will be charged. Those are the facts. If you support a large number of creators or support many creators who use a per content basis and put out lots of content, you may see a lot of additional fees.
Now, the fees you’re being charged USED TO be paid by the creators. That is, they were deducted from your pledge before the money was passed on to the creator. Except not precisely. And I’ll explain that below. The end result of this is that creators WILL see a larger portion of your pledge. And Patreon has told us that this is good for creators. And technically, it is. We make more money. But we’re making that money at the expense of our supporters. With surprise fees. Let me be clear. I do not support this change. Patreon has given me no option. As it stands, no creator I know supports these changes. We are all extremely furious. Because we content creators are smart enough to know that there is no margin in holding your loyal supporters and beating more money out of them. Patreon is experiencing a huge backlash right now in their content creator forums as a result of this change. And that may have some impact. But I can’t bank on it.
Those are the facts. I want those up front. The rest of this will explain the background for this change. And then it will explain what I’m doing.
I want to explain what is really going on behind the scenes so you understand this change. I believe in being as transparent as possible. You should know what happens with your money. And Patreon has finally made it clear enough to us that I can explain it to you.
Here’s how Patreon works. That is, how it has worked previously. How it won’t work anymore after December 18.
Suppose you pledge $1 per month to a creator. At the end of the month, your credit card – or whatever – gets charged $1. And Patreon passes somewhere between $0.80 and $0.88 to the creator your supporting. $0.05 goes to Patreon. They keep exactly 5% as their fee. The remaining 5% to 15% (roughly) is collected by electronic transaction processing firms like Stripe and Paypal. Now you might wonder why the amount is random? Why doesn’t a creator know exactly how much they are going to get? Why would the fees change?
Patreon does a thing called batching. Suppose you don’t support just one creator. Suppose you support 10 creators. At $1. At the end of the month, Patreon didn’t charge you $1 ten times. They charged you $10. That was one transaction with one transaction fee. Now, the tricky bit of math is that the transaction fee isn’t a straight percentage. It’s a flat rate plus a percentage. Say, $0.35 + 2.9%. Now, if they charged you as 10 seperate $1 transactions, you’d pay $3.80. If they charge you just one transaction, you’d pay just $0.64. That flat rate portion of the fee adds up. At the end of the month, you’d be charged $10. Stripe would get paid $0.64. Patreon would get $0.50. And the creators you support would divide up the remaining $8.86 for a $0.87 each.
On the other hand, if you support just one creator at $1 per month, Patreon keeps $0.05, Stripe gets $0.40. And the creator gets $0.55. Now, I’m using the NEW fees here. Not the old ones. Just to illustrate how batching works. The old fees used to be based on a larger percentage and a smaller fixed rate. But the example stands.
As you can see, by batching the transactions, the electronic funds transfer fees are greatly reduced and all of the creators you support share the burden of your fees. That means, that everyone benefits from supporters supporting lots of people at smaller amounts.
Patreon has not only changed the electronic transfer funds fees (the fees I used were the NEW rates), it has also decided – as far as I can tell – to stop batching transactions. I am not sure whether this change came from Patreon or from Stripe or Paypal or wheoever else they do business with. I suspect it isn’t Patreon. Because this move could actually hurt Patreon. A lot. But that’s just speculation. As a result of not batching transactions, supporters of multiple creators and supporters of creators who dole out their work on a “per creation” basis get hit for more fees than people who support only one creator once a month.
All right, that’s what’s happening. How will that effect my Patreon and my website? And what changes can I make?
Yesterday, when this news first broke – without a full explanation of how the batching issue would effect things – I changed the Seriously Not Hated and Frienemy reward levels on my Patreon page. I reduced them by $0.25 to help defray the cost of the fee. I did that to provide people with the option to reduce their support without affecting their reward levels. With the new information I learned this morning, I now know that reduction will not completely defray the cost of the fee. I weighed a number of options in my head. I would prefer to eat the cost of the fees myself if there was any way I could so that my supporters would know EXACTLY how much they are paying. But I’m pretty much powerless here. Even changing to a monthly subscription model isn’t feasible at this point. Unless I knew the vast majority of my supporters were going to jump online in the next two weeks and up their support to compensate for the change from “per artice” to “per month,” I’d bankrupt myself. The Angry GM would be gone.
I want to continue to receive support only based on the amount of work I actually do. That is important to me. It keeps me honest. It has ensured that, at the end of every month, you’ve had four articles. Without that promise, you would not have gotten four articles in October and November when things hit rock bottom for me, when I was in the emergency room for my blood pressure, and then when I was starting to undergo treatment for a major hormone deficiency and then for depression. And now that I am back on track and have gotten myself back on the once-a-week kick and have also been providing my high level Patrons with regular rewards, I don’t want that promise to go away. I want you to know what you are paying for. If I can’t run my Patreon on a “pay only for the content I create,” I’d rather just shut it down. I have to stand on principle.
I also have to accept the fact that without the level of support I’m receiving, I will have to make up for my financial shortfalls with other work. I’ve only had to rely occasionally on outside and part time work right now, which is I why I am writing a book and working on an RPG now. If I drop the reward levels too much, I won’t be able to actually provide the regular online games and Secret Stash content that I do. Those reward levels will just go away.
Basically, I’m stuck. All I can do at this point – apart from the slight change in my reward levels – is tell each and every one of you what is happening and let you all make your own choice. If you are supporting me at $1 per article, you will actually be paying $1.38 per article. If you’re supporting me at $3 per article, you’ll be paying $3.44 per article. At $4, it’s $4.47 per article. And at $5, it’s $5.50 per article. And there will continue to be four articles per month. I can’t tell you if my work is worth that much. Only you can decide.
And I’m aware that some of my supporters support many other creators. That the fees are going to hit them hard. And they will have to economize. For them, it’s not just a matter of what my content is worth; it’s about what they can afford to provide to all of their content creators.
In the end, if you have to drop your support or reduce your support or set limits, please do that. Do whatever you have to do. And do not feel like you need to apologize or explain. I will bear no one any ill will. And I will simply do my best to keep doing what I love.
Some of my supporters have asked about a way to send a one-time donation. In the future, I will be adding a “tip jar” to my website for those sorts of donations. Until then, if you would like to show you support with a one-time donation, you can use my PayPal link: https://www.paypal.me/theangrygm . But I can’t afford to rely on that sort of support in the long run. I can’t plan around that. That doesn’t mean it isn’t appreciated. It just means that it can’t fully replace Patreon.
As for the future? I genuinely don’t know. I don’t know how hard this is going to hit me. I have a lot of very dedicated, very engaged supporters. I’m very lucky. Hell, I look at the comments on my website and the constant level of support I receive and the people who hang out in my Discord chat and the folks who play in my online games and I realize I’m pretty much the luckiest content creator on the web. I can’t imagine anyone has a better, more engaged, more supportive, more reasonable, more fun group of people around them than I do. I’m not sure I always deserve it. But I am grateful to have it. It has kept me creating. And it has gotten me through a very hard period in my life.
All I can do now is wait and see and deal with whatever happens when it happens.
Until then, thank you. For everything. Whatever happens, this has been an amazing journey. I’ve had a great time. I hope it continues.