As more and more LPers resort to using Patreon, arguments over whether they should do so or not continue to crop up.
For a long time, people have debated whether doing LPs should just be considered a hobby, or if people should make money off of it. The argument against making money off of LP videos was that LPers were simply using footage of games other people had made, rather than creating original content. But is that really true? Many LPs go above and beyond just showing footage of the game, and modern LPs are often more about the LPer than the game. In addition, many developers have expressed an interest in LPers covering their game, as it tends to raise awareness of the game.
Even so, there are people who feel that LPers aren’t true creators, and feel they shouldn’t monetize videos or use services like Patreon. An argument I often hear suggests that Patreon is intended for artists, writers, and people creating original content, not people talking over a video game. I’ve also heard people argue that making LP videos isn’t a real job, as it does not require much work. However, this argument tends to ignore the time and money investment involved in making an LP. Let’s quickly break it down.
First, we’ll consider the basic costs. In order to even play a modern AAA game, you either need a next-gen console, or a PC powerful enough to run modern games. So that’s already setting you back anywhere from 300-400 dollars, possibly more. Not to mention the cost of buying a game at 60 dollars a pop. So let’s just say a PS4 and one AAA game is about 460 dollars.
In addition to that, there’s the cost of hardware for capturing and editing video. If you’re capturing from a console, you’re going to need a capture kit. Capture kits often cost upwards of a hundred dollars, so that puts the cost up to at least 560 dollars. Then you need a computer powerful enough to edit video, along with video editing software and enough hard drive space (or external hard drives) to capture all your HD video. So to make an LP of a recent console game, you’d be looking at spending close to 1000 dollars or more.
Aside from the hardware cost, there’s also a significant time investment involved. Making an LP is an involved process that can take anywhere from an hour per episode to several days, depending on how much editing you do. Beyond the initial time of capturing footage (and playing a section multiple times if you only plan to use the best take), an LPer may also need to spend hours editing a video, recording commentary (and getting audio track from other people if there are multiple commentators), and then syncing up the audio and the video, before exporting the finished video and uploading it to youtube. All for one video.
If one were to consider making any significant amount of money off of an LP, they’d either need to upload a video daily to get enough views, or have some other means of making money while making videos. This is where Patreon comes in. For LPers who do not upload videos daily, Patreon offers them a way to make money that does not rely on views and ad hits. With Patreon, LPers can spend time making videos and are rewarded for their effort, in the form of fans donating to their Patreon.
Patreon is also a far more reliable way to make money than advertising on your videos, because you don’t have to worry about a copyright strike suddenly stopping you from monetizing a video. If youtube’s automatic copyright detection system detects that you have copyrighted content in your video, it will give you a copyright strike. If you have multiple strikes, you may have monetization on your videos suspended. Since youtube’s copyright detection system is rather spotty and also doesn’t really do a good job of letting you know what you need to change, it can be easy to accidentally find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost the ability to make any money off your videos. Patreon has nothing like that, so as long as you have fans willing to give you money, you can make videos carefree.
But what about the other argument? The argument that Patreon is intended for creators, like writers and artists, and not people making youtube videos of games? Are they misusing a service intended for others, and in doing so are they drawing attention away from other creators?
As a writer who is currently using Patreon to help make ends meet, I don’t see me and my blog as being any more deserving of a Patreon than somebody who makes LPs. To me, writing opinion pieces about games and commentating over video game footage are incredibly similar. They are both a form of commentary on games and the industry, just that one is written and the other is spoken over a video. When I hear people say “LPers shouldn’t use patreon” I take that to mean I shouldn’t either. Even if that wasn’t the intended message, it’s still how I interpret it.
LPs have become far more than just a hobby. For many, making LPs is a full-time job which they use to support themselves and, in some cases, their families. . Patreon helps them do this, just as it helps other types of creators. LPers are no less deserving of a Patreon than anybody else.
If you like this article and wish to see more like it, consider donating to my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/Skirtdefenseforce and sharing this blog with your friends.