Developers question Patreon's adult games restrictions
Creators of queer and erotica games concerned new rules could extend to silencing "important viewpoints"
Updates to Patreon's community guidelines have upset a number of the site's users, who believe it sets a precedent that could be used to stifle the LGBTQ community.
The update reveals that Patreon intends to take a "clearer stance on some fringe areas of Adult Content" - specifically preventing creators from using its site to fund content based around bestiality, sexual depiction of minors and suggestive violence.
However, more than 1300 creators have formed an open letter expressing concern that this could eventually extend to other forms of erotic content. Patreon is used to fund content across all forms of art, but among the initial signatories are developers working on queer and erotic games, often of a highly explicit nature.
"Your fuzzy position on 'adult content' vs 'porn' gives you the freedom to discriminate at will," the group writes. "And it makes content creators live in fear of that discrimination, itself leading to self censorship of important viewpoints."
The letter demands that Patreon guarantees "adult content creators, of any legal content, will not have their sources of income revoked" and ends this new system of "arbitrarily judging what is and isn't acceptable expression."
Patreon CEO Jack Conte has responded via email, which was later posted to the website, emphasising the "nothing has changed" except the site's stance on the aforementioned topics. He also insisted that the changes affect very few of the creators using the site as a source of income.
"Patreon won't pull the rug out from a creator's income, even in the case of a policy violation," he continued.
"The team actually built a new system, a suspension tool, over the last few weeks, to avoid sudden removals. Suspension may still seem harsh - I totally understand that perspective - but in the case of a policy violation, it gives the creator a chance to talk with a team member and get their page back up and running.
"Creators now have time, personal connections with an advocate inside Patreon, and a team of Trust and Safety reps to help them update their pages instead of simply being removed from the platform."
He later added: "We're talking about a person's income here - we're talking about a person's livelihood. We have to be clear, rigorous, and caring. It's what's best for Patreon, it's what's best for our creators, and it's also just the right thing to do."
The open letter group has since responded to Conte's comments, saying they are dissatisfied with his answer and will continue to gather support.
Patreon is used by a significant number of creators in the games industry, particularly YouTubers and other media outlets, as well as some more traditional indie games developers. Conte recently estimated that the platform will pay out more than $150 million to over one million patrons this year alone.
Last month, the site secured a further $60 million in funding and was valued at $450 million.