Penny Arcade, a popular gaming web comic, is asking its fans to fund its advertising revenue for an entire year so it can remove ads from its website.
The comic was started 14 years ago by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, better known as their alter-egos Gabe and Tycho. Since then, it has spawned two annual conventions that attract 70,000 gamers each, a charity that has raised millions to improve the lives of children in hospitals, and a series of video games.
The Kickstarter goal represents just the amount of revenue Penny Arcade would lose by eliminating advertisements. Krahulik says not worrying about pageviews — which are around 70 million per month — or ad revenue would free up the staff of Penny Arcade, 14 in total, to work on other projects.
“We have two ad sales people, but they also work on PAX [the convention] and developing things like the new Penny Arcade video game. If they didn’t have to sell ads they would just have more time to devote to our creative projects. This seems like a good thing to us,” Krahulik told Mashable.
Krahulik hinted on Twitter that many of those other projects would be new content for fans to supplement the comic, which publishes three times a week. He and Holkins have worked on projects for game companies to boost their advertising revenue, and he hopes he can devote more time for making things for Penny Arcade’s large fanbase.
to everyone telling me we are crazy…I agree.
— cwgabriel (@cwgabriel) July 10, 2012
Removing advertisements would also remove any allegations of bias from games Penny Arcade promotes, and also prevent sticky situations from when the comic pans a game the site is currently running ads for.
“No company likes to pay for an ad and then see us skewer their game the next day. It’s nothing we can’t handle but if we could avoid it all together that would be cool,” Krahulik said.
While the comparisons have been made to member-supported media like NPR, but the situation is different because Krahulik will still try to make a profit off its other ventures and merchandise sales.
If the Kickstarter doesn’t reach its goal, Krahulik says they will not pursue any other form of donations, such as a pay wall, and will continue business as normal.
Do you think web comics could support themselves without advertising? What do you think this experiment means for online comics, or other media? Let us know in the comments.