Straight question to the community: Patreon and other things


#1

Hello everyone

This is a kind of “state-of-the-union” letter from me to the community.

As you hopefully have already come to know me, you know that I like to take things up as soon as there is an issue and I also want to discuss it as openly as I can. I also like to make strategic decisions before problems appear.

The current situation with Pokitto can be summarized as follows:

  • over 1000 Pokittos are around the world. I stopped counting at 1000. I know I am close to running out of 3rd box of displays (at 500 per box)
  • financially Pokitto Oy (my company) is sustainable but not making a lot of profit
  • I have NOT lost interest in developing Pokitto further, however
  • my main source of income is the robotics business
  • Pokitto would have to grow to 10-20x the size for it to be my main activity, and frankly I do not see it as the most likely outcome for many reasons

What I want to come out of Pokitto is the following:

  • I would like People to be programming Pokittos 10 years from now. I know it sounds silly, but if that happened, I would consider this a success no matter how we got there
  • I would like people to enjoy themselves programming Pokitto

And then comes the main things driving me personally:

  1. *I* want to program Pokitto and
  2. I want to create more hardware for Pokitto. I have so many ideas that still need to be developed.

Over the past few months, it has become clear to me that I am becoming the bottleneck of development here. You guys could take Pokitto to levels I have never imagined provided you have all the knowledge and control needed to do so.

Let’s imagine

Let’s imagine this was a negotiation between me and you all. A friendly negotiation, where both sides want the other side to be happy.

Now, I would like development of Pokitto to continue, with a heavy involvement by the community. Even to the point, where I distribute rights to sell Pokitto if that is something someone wants to do. I would like to be the enabler of things instead of being the bottleneck.

There are many factors why I can enable things to happen:

I have personal and direct contact with the top level of NXP LPC (makers of the Pokitto chip), they have expressed their interest to provide us with new chips and they are rooting for Pokitto. My partner in USA, Daniel, is able to create any kind of a PCB we need. We have a sourcing partner in China allowing us to get components at the most competitive price available. Provided there is funding, we can also create plastic parts if needed - another Kickstarter is not out of the question.

One thing that could greatly make things easier would be if there was a Patreon system that would bring in a small steady stream that maybe could be used to counter the steady expenses coming from server costs, warehouse costs and bookkeeping costs. We are talking about really small money here but money that, nevertheless, needs to be paid every month for this to continue. And when I say small amount, I mean a <5 $ contribution from the active part of the community would take care of the whole problem and allow us to focus full time on development and expansion.

But what do you, dear Pokitto community member, want to see happen in return?

Mince no words, speak your heart out, don’t be afraid. I am really interested in your response to what I’ve said here.

Jonne


#2

Normally I’m against any kind of Patreon-like system for various reasons,
but in this case I think it’s a valid option.

However, I think there’s a better solution.

I think in this case what would be best for both parties is a dontation system where people could donate money towards games and projects that they’ve enjoyed,
and a fraction of that money (perhaps decided by the author of the game) gets donated to Pokitto Oy.

I believe this idea has been brought up before (was it by @Hanski or @HomineLudens?),
and I think it would be a good solution if we could get it to work.
(The legality is the most difficult part: proving that this could not be argued as a form of employment, being careful about when tax might have to be declared.)

Personally I’ve always been against asking for donations for my work for various reasons,
but if there was a system where both game/content creators and Pokitto Oy itself could benefit,
then I for one would be more inclined to take that option.


#3

The question is about how solve this conundrum:

  • you guys like being here and developing stuff together
  • the forum server costs keep on rising as activity increases
  • after you’ve bought your Pokitto, there is no mechanism by which you (or anyone) can financially support the continued development of Pokitto, unless you buy a second device

This is not a philosophical question. The server(s) rack up hundreds of euros of expenses per year. Believe me, I don’t feel comfortable making this suggestion about Patreon myself. I had to beat myself with a humble stick to start writing it.

We are not at the point where Pokitto is fighting for survival. I am opening the discussion to make sure we do not go towards that direction.

EDIT: to make fully clear: we are in a much better condition now than last year at this same time.


#4

I agree to a donation system. As i really like merchandise and stuff like this i also would love licensed game boxes with games for pokitto on micro sd with box, booklet and goodies like stickers or pins, something like polyplay or psytronik does. Depends on the price (and german customs :roll_eyes:).


#5

That is a good suggestion.


#6

I believe that hats will be one of the ways to solve this conundrum.

As I’ve said before, I believe hats are one of the big unique selling points of the Pokitto.
The Arduboy simply doesn’t have that functionality, full stop.
The Gamebuino has similar capability, but I have no clue if they’re selling ‘backpacks’ yet or not, and it’s a slightly more expensive device anyway.

Once we’re at a point where multiple hats are available, we’ll be able to work towards making more ‘experiment kits’/‘kitboxes’ (name to be debated :P) which will hopefully attract more kids (and big kids :P).

I don’t doubt it for one minute.

I could do with a similar stick to beat myself with.
I know asking for donations would make my life a little bit easier,
but I’m always really reluctant to do so for many reasons.

(One of those reasons is that I’m not sure people would be getting value for money. :P)

I really like this idea.

Not just because it gives me an excuse to pretend I’m an artist,
but because I have many memories of opening the game box in the car and reading the instruction booklet before I even got home.

(I still have the boxes and instruction booklets for probably every game I ever bought.)


#7

Voluntary donations – definitely, set it up, I’m all for it, will support it, will donate if I can. But not only that, I would be glad to see even some kind of a premium membership or something, where it’s not a donation, but a payment for something – provided this doesn’t affect the openness of Pokitto. So, let’s say a premium membership could get you:

  • access to special parts of the forum
  • better voting power in some polls (you’re kind of an investor, so you could have a stronger voice e.g. in deciding what the next official port is going to be)
  • access to some stuff sooner, development articles, pre-release etc.
  • special badges, emoticons, profile customizations, animated avatars, whatever
  • special thanks, names in credits and stuff

What I would definitely NOT like to see:

  • proprietary software and games in general being part of this plan
  • ads for non-payers, that just puts a lot of people off and makes the project look cheap

#8

I vehemently object to the idea of being able to buy votes.

Early access and special ‘contributor’ badges I have less issues with.

There aren’t really any special areas to give people access to,
and if we invented one I can’t even begin to think what would get put there.


#9

I appreciate the feedback so far. Openness is always the best option.

@Zockeromi I realize I have overlooked the possibility of merchandise as an alternative way of supporting the project and I should fix that issue right away.

@pharap, @drummyfish As for different “tiers” of support, I think flat-out voluntary contribution, no strings attached is the fairest play of all options. Nobody will be left wondering what is what.

Asking for a voluntary donation asks for humility, but the reason why it is so powerful is because the role of the person asking and the role of the person giving are clear. Wikipedia asks for donations. I have donated to wikipedia, because I value what they do. I don’t expect them to provide me anything extra in return.

So I am going to do two things based on what we’ve discussed here (and I wish others will continue to give their opinions)

  1. I will create some sensible merchandise, so you can opt for that if that is the way you wish to contribute
    2. I will open a Patreon just for the purpose of helping maintennance costs. Even if it brings very little, every euro earned not having to sell Pokittos just to cover administrative things helps me use time and money to develop things instead, and I will greatly appreciate it, however small it will be</>

EDIT: NOPE, I just decided will do the merchandise and we will see how it goes from there


#10

Would the merchandise be game-specific? We’d better start working on original IPs, then. :slight_smile:


How do people feel about copyright of characters/plots?
#11

This is one of the reasons why I want to swap out the Pokitto Grand Prix aliens for something ‘in-house’.

As I’ve said before, using open game art is fine for place holders,
but coming up with new characters gives the game more character.
(And in this case precious IP.)

I think Polar Parcel is also currently Pokitto-only, so if @trelemar is okay with it we could do something Polar Parcel themed as well.


[Game]Pokitto Grand Prix
#12

I’m all for the merchandise option, i bet I’m one of a very small minority who cut up the Pokitto tape from the packaging in order to have a Pokitto sticker on my monitor.
Things like stickers, mugs, t-shirts etc for both the Pokitto system and exclusive games would sell well enough I think. Even a vinyl skin for the Pokitto might be quite popular. Also pokitto.com wouldn’t be the first website to ask for donations towards the running costs and I bet it wouldn’t be the last. Even if it only lead to 20-30%, tha’ts still worth it.


#13

I really like the idea of game-specific merchandise. If a game is available on other platforms, people would still be directed to the store to buy stickers/buttons/figures, and in the process they might end up buying a Pokitto.


#14

Like this? Lol!


#15

Count me in for the merchandise. I want a plush Pokitto.


#16

Would it be possible to make a sticker that fits inside a transparent case? :thinking:


#17

I don’t see why not… are you thinking an extra transparent case, or something to go inside the current case like this?

I’d buy one of these…


#18

Why not make some game, and I mean good finished game, accessible by payment? This just for a short time, maybe some weeks.
At the end selling games is the way all the console pay the rent.


#19

The text on the battery can be seen clearly on the current case, I don’t think it would be necessary to make an extra transparent one.

Edit: Now that I think of it, I’d like to cover up the battery with a Pokitto sticker. That’d look great.


#20

Personally, I would like a donation option also. If you like a game enough to pay for it, name your price with x% going directly to pokitto.