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A Letter from the Editor in Chief Regarding Fan Support

brandon 10-8-14-2

Hey Niche Gamer Nation, Brandon here. You all probably know my name or have seen my articles, they make up the majority of Niche Gamer’s content. I’ll start this off by somewhat reintroducing myself a bit.

I’m a lifelong gamer, I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember and I’ve always been extremely passionate about the industry. I had the idea for Niche Gamer last summer when I had finally given up trying to be the “first guy” on Facebook, posting gaming news as fast as I could.

I always wanted to start my own website dedicated to gaming, but that late night last June seemed to just spark a new concept in me.

Coming from this, I was also tired of having to go to like a dozen various websites to get all of the coverage that I wanted. I wanted to create a website that covered a crazy diverse sector of gaming, while also focusing on the very specific and targeted markets.

The games that I get most excited for and most passionate about tend to be the most unique, unknown, and or wildly strange games out there. I would see bigger websites refuse to write about certain games, while also circle jerking over the biggest ones.

I want to change that, and I want to change that in big way. #GamerGate has made me realize how much potential there is for an up-and-coming gaming website, when after months and months of slow, incremental progress I had gotten somewhat complacent.

I’ve had lots of you message me personally, tweet at me, post ask.fm questions and so on regarding how you can help with the site. You have already been helping by continuing to be amazing fans, and regular visitors as well.

However, with my limited funds (most of my day-job money goes towards my own personal bills and family) I have so far been unable to afford bringing on other writers who can do the bulk of the coverage for me, while I do PR, maintenance, marketing, and so on.

I love writing, I really do, and I want to continue to write for Niche Gamer.

The key thing here is that the majority of my writing is simply news, and I barely have time to do anything else after this. If I could even bring on two writers to help me cover the glut of news every day, this would help me immensely and enable me to divvy up the work appropriately.

This would also allow us to more aggressively tackle covering big events like E3, Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, and so on. If I had a core group of paid writers that I could count on to provide quality content every day, it would catapult our coverage/material.

I’m not saying our existing material is subpar or that my existing or former writers are either, the issue is that all of us have day jobs, families, etc, and it’s very hard to justify and or motivate people to work for free, for a startup, on a regular basis.

I want us to do more content, more forms of content (video, livestreaming, etc), but with our busy schedules and the fact that no one can take a salary, it’s hard to encourage people to keep busting their butts for the hope of the site making real money off ad revenue.

So, this long winded (apologies for that) piece is to set up a proposition to you all – what if I opened up a Patreon for Niche Gamer? Would you be ok with that? Would you consider donating even a dollar a month? What kind of reward tiers would you like to see?

This is a very experimental avenue and it must be handled delicately and appropriately.

To be clear, I am still on the fence about this as I do not want to sully the relationship that I and Niche Gamer have with you all. While a good number of people may be screaming “YES!”, some people might be neutral, or indifferent, or maybe even adverse to the idea.

I’ve never wanted to publicly ask for money, and I do not want to give that impression here. If we opened up a Patreon, it would be entirely optional and it would only have fun reward tiers for the fans who want to have more impact on the site, like having regular meetings, op-editorials, and so on.

The potential extra revenue from Patreon that doesn’t go to the writers would go towards maintenance and improvement of the site, like the eventual relaunch of the website, assistance with developing the legal backbone of the name and the company, and so on. There’s lots of things to do that I have mapped out, but money has always been an issue and I’ve been paying for everything myself up until this point.

Niche Gamer will continue to march onwards, and we will always have fresh and new content every day, but having a dependable amount of income to afford regular paid contributors as well as other expenses with developing the site further would help immensely.

If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t fallen asleep, I thank you. This website encapsulates my dream when it comes to the video games industry, and I hope that you guys and gals will continue to help me create it, together.

Seriously, thank you guys so much for all of your support this far, it’s incredibly humbling to myself, my staff, my wife, and the rest of my family and fans. I wouldn’t keep doing this if it wasn’t for our combined passion for these games, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.


Brandon Orselli

About

Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive.




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40 comments
  1. Dm Gray
    Dm Gray
    October 9, 2014 at 12:38 am

    My 2c, patreon and tipjars are there for a reason.
    You can use them as a springboard.
    One of my most favourite “gaming personalities” is Day9, and he monitised his stuff a while ago.
    Bonus content and fun stuff behind a paywall, the vast majority (and the content people were there for in the first place) remains free (thankfully, I’m a pauper)

    I dont think it’s a good long term solution, but it’s definitely more than fair. It doesn’t give any conflict of interests to be supported by your audience. That makes no sense :P
    Hell, even if gave devs, other journalists, friends or people you write about are paying, I’ve NEVER had a problem with that so long as it is disclosed, open and transparent (a small disclaimer attached to an article doesn’t count imo. The body of the article should reflect a possible bias and most of the time will be a positive. “my friend made a game, try it out!” might actually increase interest, but a dry “this game is the best game ever” while hiding a personal relationship puts a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, imo)

    I personally hope the new guard of gaming media can come to prominence and learn from the mistakes of their forebears.
    It’s not that hard, gamers/nerds are more forgiving than we’re given credit for.

  2. nonscpo
    nonscpo
    October 9, 2014 at 12:58 am

    I respect your reservations over this issue as Ive seen this happen to growing YouTube channels that start ebegging and go the path of many failed kickstarters. Confidence and trust are very important in these things, being open and direct about where the moneys going is too. I don’t see any problem donating a dollar a month if that helps you guys get started, my only warning to you Brandon and the rest of the staff is to never become dependent on it. Your goal in using Patreon should be to jumpstart this site and nothing else. I’m sure most people will probably feel the same way, just be prepared to start dealing with more troll’s and haters as the site gets bigger. Anyway my answer is yes I don’t see a problem with starting a Patreon account!

  3. BeholdMyPower
    BeholdMyPower
    October 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

    At the end of the day, this is about supporting up and coming sites so they can step in and fill the spot of those we’ve lost faith and trust in. I believe that so long as you’re open and transparent with your purposes and plans, a lot of people will be happy to financially support NG in order to launch the site, as it were.

  4. Cy
    Cy
    October 9, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Like everyone else said, as long as you don’t get dependant on it and disclose where the money goes I have no problem with it. If I had any free time I would have asked about becoming a writer already, and I’d love to help support you guys if you do decide to do this. Even with all the games I’m getting this fall, lol.

  5. Mad_Monarch
    Mad_Monarch
    October 9, 2014 at 1:53 am

    I’m down with Patreon. Just keep it clean and open, and the majority of people won’t mind.

  6. Anbutou
    Anbutou
    October 9, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Everyone understands that these things don’t appear from thin air. No one disliked the idea of Patreon in the industry, everyone disliked the lack of caring about talking about it. The disclaimer, we support X on patreon would have been more than enough to shut the debate down entirely on that front, but they didn’t do it so now it’s an issue for them.

    Patreon support wouldn’t even count as a full degree of separation towards the subject, imho, so please, do what you have to do to ensure you continue to exist, and can grow.

  7. benjamin hardy
    benjamin hardy
    October 9, 2014 at 2:37 am

    im cool with the patreon

  8. Keirnoth
    Keirnoth
    October 9, 2014 at 3:50 am

    There are a few freelance journos that are solid #GamerGate supporters that could be great candidates for writing.

    Oliver Campbell has been a staunch GG supporter and he writes some really eloquent stuff. Maybe you can work something out with him as a test run – that would make it feel a lot more grassroots and organic. A guy who came in during the first month of GG who realized who we are for, while you guys were one of the first sites to write about #GG in an impartial and informed manner.

    I bet if GGers knew you would be bringing him on board for some writing there’d be even more support for some sort of Patreon model.

    Steve Tom Sawyer had that video where a bunch of us reached out to him after he finally realized that there’s a large population people who wants ethical video game journalism untouched by agenda-driven radicals, so he might be someone you’d like to work with too.

    Just some suggestions – I’m cool with Patreon myself. Just make it as transparent as possible and we should be good.

  9. Topgeartony
    Topgeartony
    October 9, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Dude go for it. At least you’ll be doing something for the money and you’re not being paid to simply exist.

  10. 33
    33
    October 9, 2014 at 5:52 am

    Personally I’m not fond of Patreon but that’s half due to its rampant abuse. If you keep it ethical and make sure there’s no exchange of money between you and people you shouldn’t exchange money with (e.g. game developers) and don’t become dependant on it (as others have said) then the only thing I have against it is my personal bias.

  11. Daniel Pang
    Daniel Pang
    October 9, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Hey, Brandon. You never got back to me re: some things but I’ve been busy regardless with work so forgive me if I haven’t been more proactive in reaching out. Also, Hong Kong kind of shat itself publicly over the last week so I’ve been busy watching from behind glass.

    I’d say rather than going for crowdfunding (which is both notoriously fickle and completely dependent on public goodwill), you do your best to find a sponsor or a company willing to take on Nichegamer while not compromising any of the values you and the team hold dear. It doesn’t help that given the events of the last couple months, Patreon has been exposed in black and white as nothing more than a straight up plea for cash – cash spent in ways that you don’t have to openly disclose. Trust of the community has been hurt in many, many ways, and I fully expect Patreon donations from the gaming community to dry up as it becomes clearer that people are gaming the system the same way they have Kickstarter.

    I’d say find a partner or a sponsor media company, and negotiate some terms. This has several advantages. First off, it makes you accountable to nobody but your parent company. Of course, it goes without saying that said company should not be a large publisher or game developer. Being accountable to nobody in that circle lets you play the news game aggressively and do some actual investigative journalism without fear of retribution beyond petty take-backsies and blacklists (which would not affect your bottom line or the salaries of your writing staff). They should fear you! News should be the kind of thing people’d rather stay hidden! Everything else is just marketing.

    Right now you have something absolutely precious – the trust of a small but active userbase. You need to figure out what that’s worth, and to what businesses, and reach out accordingly. Regarding money matters, I refer you to the excellent David Maister, who gives some rules to live by. You’re halfway there already. Fight hard. Remember, we’re on your side.
    http://about.davidmaister.com/articles/17/20/

    It would also help if you defined the role of Nichegamer and the staff; are you reporters, or are you journalists? Or even bloggers? Those are all different roles, and require completely different sets of skills. From what I’ve seen so far Nichegamer so far has acted the part of a reporting team.

    Oh, and there are many of us who love games enough to write pro bono. I don’t think you’ll have any shortage of content. Don’t talk down to your audience, do the legwork, and be smart. I wish you all the best. I’m free to talk anytime on Skype if you need to find me. And if by some freak of nature I end up with more money than I know what to do with in future, count me in as a potential investor.

  12. Red Lagoon
    Red Lagoon
    October 9, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Yes but it seems to hard for idiots at Kotaku, Polygon and more… Go tell them, or try to reason with them and I’m pretty sure they will call something like “cis-male-women-hater” or something like that.

  13. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Your words really touched me – thank you for that.

    I kept putting off finalizing bringing people on by waiting for this big game dev. interview, but that is going to take a little bit longer. I added you on Skype.

    I would greatly like to bring you on board even from a Chinese adviser sort of role, as I want to be on top of that scene when it comes to the potential the game consoles have w/ launching there. Plus, you know, most major gaming sites won’t report on those games, sadly.

    Anyway, I want to talk to you more about it, and thank you so much for your heartfelt words!

  14. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I’ve slowly come to the realization of this. I kept thinking that if we concurrently got enough views for one of the big ad companies to sign us on board, by that time we’d get enough per ad and enough visitors that we could survive off them alone.

    We’re just not there yet. I’ll publicly disclose something that hasn’t really been known for awhile – Google Adsense blocked/banned us early last Fall, for supposed fraudulent clicking. I’ve appealed to them countless times and eventually I just gave up.

    I found CPMStar, which are decent but pay nowhere near as well. I’ve kept coming back to the thought of having some sort of outside investment, despite my wanting the site to remain completely independent. It’s frustrating to me haha

  15. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Yeah the goal is to never become dependent on it, which is why I’m scared of getting invested in by an angel investor or something. It has to be approached very delicately and the repercussions of it can be either wonderful or… somewhat sour. I’d rather it be handled well.

  16. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Yeah if we do go the Patreon route, I would provide a monthly breakdown of where the money went. It’d be like

    Brandon – salary
    Chris – salary
    Hosting costs
    Translation fees
    Legal fees (I’m hoping to get some legal stuff ironed out w/the name asap)

    and so on. It would always be disclosed and the money would always be accounted for.

    As far as I’m concerned I would remain at my day job until the site brought in enough income to fully support itself as a company, with a regular staff. I hope everyone can see this. Ah, I’ll feature it :)

  17. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Yeah so far we’ve only dealt with games or projects that I’ve had a purely professional relationship, if that, and by that I mean an email exchange or a press release.

    I have intentions to build the site into a smartly designed, fun and accessible community for the most hardcore of hardcore gamers, the ones who are truly into these specialized kinds of games and genres.

    I want to have more content (image galleries, dedicated pages for games, a better forum, etc) so that you guys can really consider it like a home away from home.

  18. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I totally agree. If it ever came down to it and there was a game or a project that myself or someone was recommending and we in fact were friends with or anything above a professional relationship with, we’d disclose it and be like:

    “Hey, we’re friends with these devs and they’re really cool. Please check out there game.”

    I’ve become friends with devs after covering their games, in fact. Look at the guys behind Elysian Shadows – AMAZING PEOPLE!

  19. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:46 am

    I’m always looking for more contributors. I think ideally, in the beginning, I’d like to have like two paid writers, a translator, and a few freelancers.

    I think I’ll always be looking to have freelancers on deck but the issue is that I’ve been depending on them too much when that’s unfair to them. I’d rather have a few paid writers to help me do the bulk of the work, while the freelancers can help with reviews, features, and so on.

  20. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Yeah the issue is to never become dependent on it. That’s completely not what I want, and I never wanted to do what like Indie Statik did, and go to Kickstarter saying “We can only exist if we get $50,000 dollars.”

    I want the site to remain independent, especially considering the fact that we cover adult and or pornographic games, which lots of sponsors and advertisers would probably be adverse to.

  21. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Oh we’d be definitely attempting to prove to them that gamers are NOT like that. We have been, in fact.

  22. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Yeah the key thing here is that I would like money to go towards creating even more content. It’s not like we’ll be getting paid to complain on the internet or anything…

  23. DC_78
    DC_78
    October 9, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Do a subscription like the Escapist. I’d pick one up.

  24. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    October 9, 2014 at 8:07 am

    That’s also an idea that I’ve had! Thank you for reminding me!

  25. thermoplastics
    thermoplastics
    October 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

    All it takes for fraudulent clicking is someone who does not like you to hire an overseas ad clicking service to target your site. For like 100 bucks anyone can bring anyone else’s site to a full stop by getting them banned from Adsense.

    The best part being that you can not prove to Google that you were not the one who hired them.

    It’s frighteningly easy to take down competitors in this manner and Google does not care about these abuses one bit.

    So here is hoping that you can get the views that warrant a major advertiser to pick you guys up as i have definitely been enjoying the site for the last couple of months and am not planning on leaving anytime soon.

    Keep up the great work!

  26. RandomDev
    RandomDev
    October 9, 2014 at 9:21 am

    If you need the support of people via Patreon to keep this great site going go for
    it, you write about games others don’t and that is refreshing :)

    Oh and I hate how the big sites all circle jerk over high budget games too.

  27. RandomDev
    RandomDev
    October 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Someone should do this to Kotaku, Polygon, RPS, The Verge, etc.

  28. geezer_man
    geezer_man
    October 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Brandon – just recently found your site – it’s great! You address the games I’m interested in, so I’d be in with everybody else in supporting you in whatever way you think best – Patreon, subscriptions, whatever. Keep up the good work!

  29. Kraus
    Kraus
    October 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I keep throwing money at the screen but nothing is happening!

  30. DC_78
    DC_78
    October 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Hey if there is one thing gamers will do without question it is back up services and products we support.

  31. Topgeartony
    Topgeartony
    October 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    If you make a Patreon I’d fund you so hard you’d feel violated. Take my donations, take them hard and fast.

  32. Hydroninja9
    Hydroninja9
    October 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    I wish that I could spend more time writing for the site but Senior year is rough xD. As for patreon , i dont know. While i wouldn’t be against it some people may because of recent issues. So long as everything is transparent and you don’t suddenly say ” GAMERS ARE DEADDDD” im cool with it.

  33. 33
    33
    October 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I wouldn’t be comfortable with a journalist reviewing or giving attention to something made by a friend; it’s a little too close for my liking. Giving that job/article to another staff member would probably be better.

  34. Topgeartony
    Topgeartony
    October 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    No. we are better than that.

  35. Thanatos2k
    Thanatos2k
    October 9, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    You can do your Patreon. I won’t donate to it, but I won’t begrudge it to you. I think Patreon’s getting a bit….overdrawn at this point, but you can try.

    I don’t block your ads, so I’ll stick with the “I view your ads” model.

  36. Arch Stanton
    Arch Stanton
    October 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    My only quibble is that I don’t trust Patreon not to screw you over somehow. Use them, to be sure, but maybe have some kind of alternate tip jar as well. My local indie radio station (which operates entirely ad free and on donations) use an electronic tip jar and also has a P. O. Box to mail checks.

    As to dealing with the “Google hates us” issue, I suggest some kind of social media strategy as an alternative. Unfortunately, this is outside my area of expertise.

  37. artemisthemp
    artemisthemp
    October 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I have no issues with drop some dollars every month since, I have discover a lot news games thanks to Nichegamers.

  38. Fenrir007
    Fenrir007
    November 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I’m fine with Patreon / Paypal, preferably if there is proper disclosure of where the money is going (like what 8chan does). People are more likely to donate if they see where their money is going (which, apparently, is what you are going to do anyway).

    That said, I’m not averse to advertisement in gaming websites as long as they are not related to things you cover (and aren’t obnoxious or intrusive. Static images, non-java things, please). So, for example, I’m okay with gaming mice having ads in a website that doesn’t review or reports on specialized gaming hardware. I’m also ok with any advertisement that has nothing to do with gaming, including gamer food garbage.

    The issue with Doritos and Mt Dew, however, is a different beast because, during the doritogate campaign, they had a cross promotion going on with Halo, so in that case, I would feel extremely uncomfortable seeing ads for that product on a gaming website. If the Halo promo didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have a problem with them either.

    Edit: for some reason, I answered a 2 month old article. Go me!