Our pets will look back on 2020 as the glorious year that their humans never left the house. While this year is a little less glorious on our side of the leash, one silver-lining (if you can even call it that) is that gaming creators on Patreon are releasing a ton of great content to keep us occupied and entertained while we're stuck at home.
Making a list of all our favorite gaming creators would take longer than getting through Last of Us Part Two on permadeath mode. So instead, we narrowed it down to some of the top game creators, developers and commentators, who are using Patreon to grow their tight-knit communities and support their work independently.
Whether they’re unboxing a swag package from 2K Games, or talking us through the trauma of PS4’s Last of Us Part Two, listening to the What’s Good Games podcast has the vibe of a fun, multiplayer session with your best buds. Don’t be fooled by their charm — from IGN to Gamestop TV, the hosts bring some serious credentials to their video game news, analysis, and playthroughs.
What’s Good Games took the something-for-everyone approach to membership by launching with seven different tiers. Patrons can listen to their podcast without ads ($5), join in on an exclusive, monthly live stream with the hosts ($10), or get an on-air shout out ($20).
14. Pony Town
In the browser-based game Pony Town, players get to design the pony of their dreams. Whether they’re exploring the game’s pixelated world or chatting with other ponies, players have patrons to thank for keeping the game free-to-play.
Pony Town has three tiers that range from $1-$10. Patrons choose from a range of benefits, from extra pony slots ($1) to new and developmental features unavailable to the general public ($10).
What do established novelists and D&D Dungeon Masters have in common? They both know that world-building is an inherently sticky process. Fortunately, the LegendKeeper app is here to help keep track of all those characters and plot points, so DMs can focus on what matters: creating a quest that keeps their parties’ attention until the night runs out.
LegendKeeper's membership is a great example of how Patreon can provide monthly income during the beta phase of your next game. With just two tiers to choose from, patrons can access the app’s beta trial and Discord community ($5), or in addition to those benefits, pay a little extra and receive a sticker to show their support ($10).
Part Baseball-simulator, part screwball-drama, Blaseball is a browser-based video game that is a lot like the great American pastime — if it had peanut gods, giant squids, and murders of crows that ambushed your star third baseman. In the game, players bet on fantasy teams, like the Canada Moist Talkers and the Charleston Shoe Thieves, as they battle their way to the championship. Players use their winnings to vote on the game’s mechanics as the season evolves, providing an addictive gaming loop that the internet can’t seem to get enough of.
Blaseball has four membership tiers to choose from, including support only($3.33), a chance to name one of the game’s players ($9.99), and access to a monthly Q&A with the developers of the game ($19.99). Regardless of what tier patrons choose, they all get access to the game's Discord server, so they can root-root-root for the home team along with other fans in real time.
11. Peace Island
Since we could all use a little more peace these days, how about a relaxing, non-combat oriented adventure...with cats? Currently under development for PC, Mac, and Oculus, Peace Island is an up-and-coming indie-game that allows players to unlock their inner feline in an immersive, open-world environment. Because of their patrons we humans will finally get to experience what it’s like to have nine-lives.
The benefit of Peace Island’s simplified three-tier approach to membership is that patrons won’t get overwhelmed with options. The $1 tier unlocks the developer’s Patreon feed and game alphas, while $5 and $10 patrons gain access to beta demos and exclusive art.
Not long ago, three gaming fanatics did something scary: no, we’re not talking about their Spookies series, where they laugh their way through creepy video games like Outlast and Until Dawn. We’re talking about when they left their gigs at IGN to start their own gaming-centric YouTube channel, RKG. Luckily, their patrons have made it an easy transition.
RKG’s membership spreads over four tiers. It’s worth noting that their lowest tier is set at $3 and includes easy-to-fulfill benefits like access to the Patreon feed, and their Discord community. This sets them up for success since lower tiers are often attractive to patrons.
This game developer has had his mitts in some of the most iconic games of the last thirty years, from iconic 90s shooters like Doom II and Quake to American McGee’s Alice, an action RPG set in the world of Alice in Wonderland. Since its release in 2000, the game, as well its sequel Alice: Madness Returns, has developed a rabid following among gamers and cosplayers, who hope to someday return to the game’s world.
Thanks to his patrons, they’ll finally get their chance. Alice: Asylum, the third entry in the series, is in development, and his patrons aren’t just funding that process: they’re also active participants.
By joining one of his eight tiers ($1 to $500), patrons can impact the future title, whether that’s by participating in live streams with the development team ($5) or giving feedback to McGee and co. directly ($15).
Founded by a pair of DOS-obsessed brothers back in 2000, Bay 12 Games is best known for creating the throw-back, fantasy building simulation game, Dwarf Fortress. Hailed for its in-depth world, insane difficulty, and frequent updates (they continue to add new content 14 years after its release) this dwarf-powered adventure isn’t just loved by gaming writers: it’s featured in the Museum of Modern Art.
Bay 12 Games is completely independent and fully funded by fans and patrons. And, like the retro-animation style of their prized game, the indie-game company keeps their Patreon simple as well: just one tier that allows patrons to pay what they want.
With 3D printers becoming more affordable over the years, D&D players are taking advantage and printing their own miniatures. That’s where the 3D artist behind the name Mz4250 steps in. Using open-source 3D modeling programs like Blender, Miguel Zavala makes intricate designs for players to make and print figurines. His green dragon is an example of a more traditional D&D baddie, but he also creates more modern additions to the tabletop gaming world, like dinosaurs (because nothing counters black magic like having a velociraptor in your party).
Starting at the $5 tier, patrons can unlock the entirety of Zavala’s 3D creations. And for those who print miniatures for commercial purposes, unlimited access to the artist’s Intellectual Property-neutral models starts at $10 a month.
While many gaming videos are made with the player in mind, Mark Brown, the creator behind Game Maker's Toolkit, creates from the game developer's perspective. Both players and game designers love Brown’s academic slant on video game analysis, whether he’s breaking down an indie platformer like Celeste, or he’s exploring the combat mechanics that make a first-person shooter like Doom Eternal so satisfying,
By joining one of his four tiers, patrons receive access to the Discord community ($1), exclusive bonus content ($3), and they get the chance to see his videos before the rest of us($5).
Matt Watson and Ryan Magee of SuperMega inject everything they do with NSFW humor and a gazillion layers of irony, but underneath all the lols are two dudes who adore video games. Whether they’re watching them blow up cars in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, or fight the undead in Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 3, patrons come for the jokes and stay for the passionate video game conversations.
With a Marie Kondo approach to membership, SuperMega is a great act to follow for creators who want to keep their Patreon simple: the duo has just one tier($5), which gives patrons access to behind-the-scenes content and sneak peeks at upcoming videos.
4. Cze and Peku
While imaginative pals, a gaming book, and a worthy Dungeon Master are the essential elements of any tabletop RPG, a visual aid — like a map — can make the experience even more immersive. From wild west saloons to a civilization built on top of a beached sea monster, Cze and Peku design hi-res PDF maps for tabletop players to download and explore.
Cze and Peku’s membership is all about access to exclusive content. When a patron signs up for one of their five tiers ($1-$20), they open up a treasure trove of downloadable maps to play with games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder. By offering bonus features like Discord access, behind-the-scenes content, and the ability to provide suggestions for future maps, Cze and Peku aren’t just putting their maps behind a paywall — they’re building a community.
Though Electronic Arts released the Sims 4 six years ago, the game still has a vibrant community of players. The ability to alter the experience of the original base game (aka,”Mods”), is a big part of that community, allowing players to play the game in exciting new ways. Kawaiistacie is arguably a leader in this space. Her mods do more than simply alter the game’s physical appearance — they add new worlds and character paths into the game, like turning Sims into K-pop stars.
Kawaiistacie’s Patreon tiers are structured with two things in mind: early access and financial support. Though Kawaiistacie’s mods are available for free on her website, patrons get to mod up before the rest of the internet (her $10 patrons get them a week ahead of time). For patrons who just want to invest in Kawaiistacie’s ability to keep making mods, the pay-as-you-want tier exists without other benefits and starts at $1.
2. Alex Massé
Alex Massé is the developer behind the upcoming PC and Mac game, Paralives, a life-simulator and doll-house builder that has Sims-centric YouTubers flashing the smiley emoji. Unlike The Sims, which has the backing of Electronic Arts, Paralives is funded entirely by patrons, who can’t wait to test drive the game’s highly-customizable characters (or “para-folks”), houses, and furniture.
In exchange for pledging, patrons can get their name in the game’s credits ($3), access behind-the-scenes content from the development team ($10), and perhaps the most meta of all the rewards, be immortalized as a townie in the actual game ($50).
In The Glass Cannon podcast, five friends battle their way through the world of the D&D spin-off, Pathfinder. Fans love The Glass Cannon for their by-the-book gameplay, insane encounters, and improv-like banter that’s hilarious enough to take on the road. Now a full-fledged podcast network, The Glass Cannon has a thriving patron community, where fans can get ideas for their own tabletop adventures, or argue over what’s the best spell to take down a Mind Flayer.
The Glass Cannon’s benefits are dispersed across seven tiers. Their lower tiers range from $5 to $10, giving patrons access to bonus episodes and Discord after-parties with the cast, respectively. But their higher tiers are all about swag ($25) and 1x1 hangouts ($50-$100), including a twice-a-year, personal Zoom call with one of the gang.
Run a gaming channel? Or develop indie games? Patreon gives you a place to grow your community and develop a sustainable, recurring income that gives you the freedom to focus on creating what you love, instead of chasing funding and ad sponsorships. Check out how you can level up your gaming content on Patreon.