Penny Arcade’s new business model: Kickstarter

The popular webcomic is "selling out" to fans on Kickstarter in an attempt to operate ad-free for a year. That goal will require over $1,000,000 in donations.

Mar 3, 2020, 4:40 am*


Lauren Rae Orsini 

Lauren Rae Orsini

Since the early 2000’s, people have taken for granted that if they want to look at something on the Internet, it’s going to have ads plastered all over it.

Thirteen-year-old webcomic Penny Arcade wants to break this mold.

On Tuesday the comic’s writer and artist launched a Kickstarter which, if successful, will fund the site ad-free for a year. The pair are hoping to raise $1,000,000 from donors.

“What I’m saying is that we want to sell out, and we would love to sell out to you,” they wrote.

Artist Mike “Gabe” Krahulik announced on the Penny Arcade blog that the idea had come from a period in 2001 when they began running the comic entirely thanks to reader donations.

“You paid for our rent, food, video games and in return we made PA three times a week as well as a bunch of extra content. A lot has changed in eleven years. PA has fourteen employees now, we put on two massive conventions every year, we run a worldwide charity, we produce our own video games and web show. It’s a major operation now and running it off of donations again seems impossible. Or is it?”

It’s possible, but Krahulik said it’ll cost far more than it used to. The Kickstarter’s first monetary goal is $250,000, which will remove the main advertisement—the leaderboard—from the top of the website for a year. From there, twelve more goals follow, climaxing at $1,400,000.

To many readers, however, Penny Arcade is asking too much. Several referenced a 2011 comic, where Penny Arcade derided Kickstarter users for using the site for personal gain.

“Penny Arcade: May 2011: using Kickstarter for personal gains is awful… July 2012: uses Kickstarter for personal gains,” @kurafire tweeted.

“2012 biggest ‘not sure if serious’ moment: Penny Arcade Kickstarter,” @drjft wrote.

“I like Penny Arcade, but this Kickstarter seems incredibly misguided,” @gamejournos wrote.

Krahulik took to Twitter to defend the project, reminding fans that he was just testing the waters.

“If you hate the idea that’s fair. We are putting this out to see if enough people like the idea,” he tweeted.

While those who disagree with the project are far more vocal on Twitter than its fans, supporters are making themselves heard with their dollars. Since the Kickstarter launched several hours ago, it has already raised $50,000.

Photo via Penny Arcade

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 10, 2012, 2:02 pm