Patreon raises user fees to stabilise creator payouts

UPDATE: Crowdfunding platform decides not to add $0.35 service charge after creators begin to lose subscribers

By James Batchelor.Published Thursday 14th December 2017, 12:48pm GMT

Patreon has made some changes to the way it secures processing fees which will benefit creators but potentially upset their patrons.

The crowdfunding site allows users to pay a monthly fee for the ongoing output of their favourite creators, including a number of independent games journalists, media outlets and even a handful of developers.

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Previously, creators income from subscriber pledges could vary by anywhere between 7% and 15% as Patreon would take a share in order to cover processing fees. From December 18th, these processing fees will be covered by the subscribers.

A Q&A details the platform's new service fee of 2.9% ($0.35) that will be added to each individual pledge users make. As a result, Patreon now promises creators a guaranteed 95% of all pledges made.

Polygon reports that numerous creators are concerned this will cause a drop in patrons, as users supporting multiple creators will now be spending more than they originally intended - although Patreon notes that patrons still have the ability to cap how much they spend on the site per month.

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In the Q&A, Patreon says there will be no option for creators to continue covering those processing fees in order to appease their audience.

"We understand that some creators might wish to take the hit for their patrons," a spokeswoman wrote. "That said, the service fee will be extended to all patrons on the site and there isn't an option to remove the service fees from your patron pledges.

"The best step is to make sure your patrons are fully educated on the benefits of this change for creators and we've made sure to send them notification of this."

This is not the only recent change to upset creators. Back in October, developers complained that revised community guidelines were in danger of censoring adult games to the point where it may "silence important viewpoints."

Patreon was established four years ago and pays out to 50,000 creators every month. The platform has previously said it expects to pay out more than $150m this year alone.

UPDATE 8/12/2017: Following backlash from creators, Patreon has decided not to roll out the planned service fees for users and has promised to consult its audience when coming up with an alternative system.

In a statement Patreon boss Jack Conte wrote: "We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we're going to fix them in a different way, and we're going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I'm sorry."

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