Gaming culture webcomic Penny Arcade has launched a Kickstarter with no tangible rewards, instead giving readers the opportunity to pay to keep advertising off the site.
The scheme is intended to be run annually and to replace revenue streams currently provided by advertising.
Over 1,500 backers have already pledged more than $100,000 to the idea, with some hailing it as a good way to contribute despite using ad blocking software. Others have criticised the company for asking for money when it has other sources of income.
Co-founder Mike Krahulik wrote on the main Penny Arcade site that if successful, the Kickstarter will take the company back to its roots.
“It is at its core a return to the concept we had eleven years ago. Back then we considered it begging but today it’s called crowd funding,” he said, referring to years when Penny Arcade could not attract advertisers and survived on donations.
“I don’t want you to get the idea that Penny Arcade is any kind of trouble. Honestly if this Kickstarter doesn’t work nothing here will change. The reality is that we can continue working for advertisers but if we can, we’d rather work for you.”
Speaking to Eurogamer, Krahulik was up front about not precisely needing the money, and the experimental nature of the idea.
“[Business manager Robert Khoo] projected what we would get from advertising in a year and he said ‘this is the low end of what we would need and this is the high end of what we would need.’ That’s what we’re asking for on Kickstarter,” he said.
“There were definitely years where we did a lot more than we’re asking. The project will fail or succeed and that will tell us if it was a good idea or not. Arguing about it right now is kind of silly. Just see if people want to do it or not. That’s the whole reason we did it right? We can talk about it amongst ourselves, or we could just put it up and ask them and see.”
As well its highly influential comic, Penny Arcade runs two major gaming expos, a significant charity, and the PA Report, among other projects.