Statement: Why FDG stopped Toucharcade Patreon support

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by Future777, Jan 19, 2016.

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  1. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    Today we decided to stop our Patreon support and we'd like to give a short statement on this.
    It was not an easy decision, because Toucharcade is an important site for mobile games coverage and it deserves (and needs) support.

    However, we came to the conclusion that it's not a good idea to support a game review oriented site as a developer and publisher. For readers, there'll always be a subtle feel of editors being biased by the fact we are top Patreon supporter.

    LONEWOLF, one of our new games was recently chosen as 'Game of the Week' and we've been very happy about it.
    Unfortunately, since we've been a Top Patreon supporter, the coverage had to come with a disclaimer explaining this fact, saying that journalism is in no way influenced. For many readers this goes without saying but we also heard multiple doubts and there's always this stale taste when positive news can only come with a disclaimer. In a subtle way it's discrediting our work.

    One week later, our new game Venture Kid got a review score of 3.5 stars. Obviously a bad score, because the review didn't come with a disclaimer. So yeah - in this case, it was not necessary. We could go even further and say: this review makes an example that Toucharcade is not biased. And here's the dilemma on a different perspective. We believe Venture Kid is a fine example of a mobile action platformer and delivers a lot of fun at just $.99 . We can't stop but having a stale taste when reading the review. Did it get a worse score to make an example ? Of course not, but we're not having peace in our minds.

    We feel that this is not how a relationship between developers and press should work.
    Toucharcade Patreon support should solely come from players - readers that are not in the industry. This way the integrity will never be at doubt. In no way.

    We prefer to be handled like every other developer, without disclaimers below positive articles. Without stale tastes.

    We hope you can understand our position. Readers, please *do* support Toucharcade when you are a returning visitor of this excellent mobile gaming site. If every player would support them with just 1$, the Patreon page would explode! Support unbiased journalism.
     
  2. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    From $9,000 a month in support in December to (now) barely over $5,000 in February. If this trend continues, the only stale test left will be when we're all sitting around going, "Remember when there were sites like TouchArcade to even review mobile games at all, even if we weren't always happy with the scores?"

    Either way, we're appreciative for the support provided by FDG. ...Although it does seem strange that an average review score for a game that's just OK was the straw that broke the camel's back here, particularly after clarifying how our review scale works and emphasizing even having a game review posted on TouchArcade means your game is already better than 99.4% of the games on the App Store.

    I just wish this news would've come yesterday before I booked a non-refundable trip to GDC this year based off assumptions that our Patreon wasn't going to continue taking any more significant nose dives. *sigh*
     
  3. Toast

    Toast FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    Apr 27, 2009
    135
    0
    0
    Co-Founder, Executive Producer
    Munich
    so you're telling me that a 1 star review on TA is still better than 99.4% of games out there? :confused:

    as thomas mentioned, we want and strongly support unbiased journalism and we just didn't feel it's possible being a top patreon.
    don't get us wrong, we didn't stop patreon because of a (badly written) 3.5 star review. we would have stopped it with a (perfectly written) 5 star review coming with a disclaimer as well.

    if within 2 months TA lost almost 50% of its patreon budget, it's sad of course, but it's not on us to blame. we supported TA for a very long time in different ways (ads, patreon, etc...). if TA loses users, there might be a reason for it. just like us developers and publishers, the press has to adjust to the market as well, conduct research and analysis, etc...

    i will be at GDC too and it'd be great if we can sit down sometime with a coffee or a beer and have a chat there about this topic (and others).
     
  4. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    Yes.
     
  5. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    I would like to add that we already had a 3.5 star review during our Patreon support just to underline the fact that this was not the reason. It's just wrong to have a press relationship where only a disclaimer underneath positive articles gives you comfort. Only feeling ok when the article is negative. It's not how it should work.

    We continue to support Toucharcade with ads for new releases - a healthy relationship between dev and press. As Philipp says the market is tough for both developer and press and we need to do what is healthy for our business and relationships.
     
  6. Boardumb

    Boardumb Administrator
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    Apr 14, 2009
    6,301
    363
    83
    THE BOSS
    Sacramento, CA
    So I guess all this stuff written six months ago was just… made up? http://toucharcade.com/2015/07/08/thomas-kern-of-fdg-entertainment-on-the-importance-of-supporting-toucharcade/

    I mean, did you not stop to think about the fact that you were helping support a game review site, and that you guys made games yourselves? This just ALL OF A SUDDEN came to you right now?

    Let's not beat around the bush, you absolutely stopped funding because of the Venture Kid review. Which is fine, honestly. I would never want anyone to think that their monetary support of this site should ever constitute favorable coverage. It just sucks because I'd expect this from about a million other developers but never FDG. You were one of my favorite developers, both as a gamer and as someone who runs a games website.

    But this move and the extremely rude remarks by Thomas in the review comments are just so strikingly unprofessional coming from you guys. I mean come on, you're better than that. At least I thought you were.

    We'll of course continue to check out future FDG games and if anyone on our staff chooses to review one they'll of course judge it on its own merits. But for me personally, as a gamer more than anything else, my child-like excitement for whenever you guys would announce a new game has now been replaced by this sickening pit in my stomach that I'm feeling right now.


    Oh and P.S. - I was the one who edited and posted the Venture Kid review, and we had discussed previously about putting the disclaimer on the bottom, I just completely forgot it. It's not a case of "good coverage needs a disclaimer, bad coverage doesn't" and I also take great exception to all of your guys' comments about this being a "bad" review.

    There is something very, very off about this entire situation. You guys are too personally attached to Venture Kid. I understand that there was a lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes of its development that was very personal to the team, but you can't expect to act like this with future games and not become a laughing stock because of it. Anyway, that's just my perspective as an outsider.
     
  7. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    #7 Future777, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
    What you're writing just shows that it was a big mistake to even start our Patreon support. It's our fault. We'd have fared much better by just handling it like most other developers. Exiting from such a relationship seems to be so much more damaging than not entering it at all. Earning money on the App Store is a tough business and we've received lots of bad reviews in the past. We can handle it. But we never felt such an off-the-mark wrong relationship when press has to introduce disclaimers to give us a positive article. I'm sad you can't believe our given reason is true.

    Besides that: I'm a human and should be allowed to give comments about bad written reviews. We spend a lot of our lifetime creating games and we take all the care to deliver good products. I'm in no way less professional than you with your accusations. Like I said: Look back into the Sketch Breaker review where TA tweeted that a good game gets broken by inapp purchases. And that for a game that never requires a single purchase to play - with a much healthier balance than many other F2P games with high ratings. Business damaging but not our reason to stop Patreon. It started when we understood you're feeling uncomfortable to say positive things about our games without adding a disclaimer. It's not a good relationship.

    As for Venture Kid: Yes I was very sad with how Carter reduced our game to shovelware status with his remarks on how generic it is and I understand that you hate us all the more now for complaining. I admit that it was a weak moment in my life as a developer and that I shouldn't have commented it. However the reason I posted here today is true. I will never get friends with Carter who already gave Oceanhorn a 3.5 on 148Apps but I'm sad to read about your feelings, Jared. We respect you the most here, and all the old crew. We'll also keep sending you ad dollars.
     
  8. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    More than anything else it seems really strange to publicly air all this, it kind of feels like you guys are really trying to go above and beyond to punish us for the Venture Kid review.
     
  9. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    #9 Future777, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
    Because we need to remove our public 'stigma' of being a Patreon supporter. Your reaction just underlines why such a developer/press relationship is wrong. Nobody seems to be able to stop a mental noise about either actions being a punishment or 'example' to defend integrity.
     
  10. Eli

    Eli ᕕ┌◕ᗜ◕┐ᕗ
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

  11. Boardumb

    Boardumb Administrator
    Staff Member Patreon Silver Patreon Gold

    Apr 14, 2009
    6,301
    363
    83
    THE BOSS
    Sacramento, CA
    It's such standard practice though. We even debated putting that disclaimer on the Lonewolf post, because the way we see it is the people who genuinely like what we do and trust our opinions don't need to be told that we're being honest in our words. But there's such a rush to vilify any perceived wrongdoing with everything that's happened with gamergate and the ethics warriors, that it seemed like a "just to be safe" kind of thing to do. I wish you would have said something to us about it then, or even during one of our monthly patreon update posts where we highlighted you guys specifically as top supporters. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the timing of this and the fact that you didn't bother to reach out to any of us privately about any of these issues first makes it very hard to believe this is anything but a vindictive move.

    I understand, we are humans too and have gotten involved in more comment arguments than I'd care to count. But like I said, it was so out of character for you guys specifically. That's what made it stand out so much and seem so odd. I don't hate you guys, not even close. I'm not even mad about losing the patreon money. I actually agree it can put both of us in awkward spots when it comes to that upper level of contribution. I have no problem with you feeling like it's a strange relationship and not wanting to be part of it anymore, but it just makes all those things you said in your post I linked feel very hollow. Like you were just saying what you thought people wanted to hear and didn't actually feel that way. And again, the timing of everything is just so poor. Why is this just coming up now, why not any number of months before? Why is it right after you got a review from one of your games that you were very clearly and vocally not happy about? Why is this all being hashed out in a public forum thread instead of you reaching out to us via email or something? These are all the things I don't understand, and the reason I'm feeling so upset today.
     
  12. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    Jared, I tried to begin a dialogue about Patreon issues privately when I sent Eli an email about my concerns with seemingly 'forced' monthly 2nd class Patreon news that got criticism from readers. I didn't get any response. I just didn't have the feeling Eli had the time to talk through these issues. So I didn't bother to send him another mail.

    About our initial words about the Patreon, please read Eli's email to us when he asked for a write up. I took the time to give you some material to introduce Patreon with a strong belief. And it wasn't hard to write that because it's true but I added some weight for your campaign specifically.
     
  13. Destined

    Destined Well-Known Member

    Aug 11, 2013
    1,064
    0
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    Unfortunately this thread has created a stigma.

    IMO if you weren't happy you could of just withdrawn support and not say anything. Most people (especially in relation to the people who download your apps) would of had no idea you were even supporting in the first place.
     
  14. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    #14 Future777, Jan 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016
    True - I'm aware this thread is explaining more than needed - a two edged sword perhaps, but I felt like giving a statement. We've been the only top Patreon supporter for quite some time and that is different than stopping $5 support.
     
  15. Shaun Musgrave

    Shaun Musgrave Well-Known Member

    Jul 8, 2013
    1,086
    1
    38
    Freelance writer, teacher, business owner
    Ibaraki, Japan
    #15 Shaun Musgrave, Jan 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
    I'm not going to pretend to know better than you why you made your decision, guys, but if you wanted this to look like your support wasn't contingent on favorable review coverage, you've got the worst timing in the world.

    edit: this was a rude insinuation on my part and I apologize for it. I'm leaving it here so as not to try to hide what I said.
     
  16. Touchmint

    Touchmint Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    1,056
    13
    38
    Developer
    Phoenix
    I think players know that most Devs support toucharade so I doubt they would assume bias especially on reviews. I consider myself a player first and that's the way I look at it.
     
  17. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    #17 Future777, Jan 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
    Shaun, I don't care about how often you use the timing argument. Go on an ride this horse. It all happened in a 2 week window in January, we contacted you privately about our first Patreon concerns, we didn't get response. We had a bad review during our Patreon support many months ago and (of course) didn't stop it. We stopped it after we became aware that good news about FDG require a disclaimer and then noticed TA only feels comfortable when the review is bad. So yeah you could say the combination of 2 (+1) events in January triggered it - it's not our fault that the timespan was so narrow.

    I would like to add that we booked ads on Toucharcade for years in a similar value as Top Patreon knowing that the returning value is zero (banners don't have any effect on downloads). We did this to support Toucharcade and had a good feeling to know TA is comfortable with the coverage in either direction.

    @Touchmint: No doubt there are many devs with noble thoughts but if you read Jared's comments below the recent Patreon Disclaimer discussion you can read that there are multiple developers who can't stop reminding TA Editors about their Patreon support when they send in their games for reviews. Its not a healthy relationship.
     
  18. Shaun Musgrave

    Shaun Musgrave Well-Known Member

    Jul 8, 2013
    1,086
    1
    38
    Freelance writer, teacher, business owner
    Ibaraki, Japan
    #18 Shaun Musgrave, Jan 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
    You didn't contact me about anything. I'm a freelancer, I'm just saying how it looks.

    I'm actually kind of relieved because you were one of the only devs I knew was supporting the Patreon (I try to avoid having that info), and I wasn't comfortable that fact wouldn't result in unconscious bias. I don't have to worry about that now.

    It's too bad that this is resulting in sour feelings all around, though. I appreciate the support you gave us and like your games a lot. I just think you could have handled this particular situation better. But this is new ground for everyone involved, I reckon, so stuff is bound to happen.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go on and ride a horse.

    edit: this is also kind of rude, so I again apologize, but will leave it here in the interests of transparency.
     
  19. Future777

    Future777 FDG Entertainment<br />Co-Founder
    Patreon Studio

    #19 Future777, Jan 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
    Saying how it looks when you ignore 80% of the facts. Happy horse riding! Oh and yes please replace 'you' with TA Editor..name has been mentioned before.

    I agree though about the point about sour feelings - indeed new grounds for everyone and a bit sad how it ended but shit happens. Time will tell how we all can handle it in the long term.
     
  20. Shaun Musgrave

    Shaun Musgrave Well-Known Member

    Jul 8, 2013
    1,086
    1
    38
    Freelance writer, teacher, business owner
    Ibaraki, Japan
    Well, for my part, I'm sorry about the snippiness of my first post. I have had some bad experiences back in the day with big pubs pulling support over reviews they didn't like, so I jumped to a bad reading of the situation. I believe you mean what you say, and I think you trust in what we do here, so I hope we can mend this slightly damaged fence.
     

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