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Why I'm moving from Patreon to Github Sponsors


TL;DR: The obvious reason: GitHub matches your sponsorship for one year, giving me 2x the income for your donations. Sponsor Citybound on GitHub here. But that's not the only reason.

Citybound's source code and issue tracking has been hosted on GitHub for a while now. Together with the Citybound subreddit, our official community, GitHub really feels like the home of Citybound, fulfilling many needs of the project at once.

At the same time as I made Citybound open source, I announced a Patreon page for it, for the first time allowing Citybound's fans to support the project through donations. This combination of making the game (with source) freely available while accepting donations really felt like a good step for the project.

The kind donations of my generous Patrons have made a big difference over the years, either by being my only small source of income between jobs or a justification to spend less time on a job and more time on Citybound when I have one. The monthly income never came close to fully supporting me long-term. Patrons come and go, leading to a quite constant level of support, but that in turn gives me the freedom to develop Citybound at my speed, without crushing expectations on a project that really needs time - and where my intrinsic motivation and expectations are more than enough to make me work hard.

Over the years I have become only more convinced that I won't try to productivise or monetise Citybound in any way with the hope of making that my main income and goal in life. Citybound wants to be a personal research project for a community of likeminded people, and the Patron sponsorship model really is the most suitable way to give me more resources to work on it.

Patreon-the-platform has left me disappointed, pretty much since the beginning, though. Mainly, it tries really hard to be the main presence for your project, and even the main community. This is awkward for projects like Citybound, that have an existing, really strong community like our subreddit and an existing, obvious place for updates: this DevBlog. At the same time, the UI and tools that Patreon provides for creators are really lacklustre. They got better over time, but still just feel like an annoyance to me. In practice, Patreon became a glorified payments processor that only had brand recognisability to offer, and one more artificial sub-community that I felt I had to maintain.

For a while, Patreon even partnered with Reddit, making it possible to reward and highlight Patrons in the subreddit with special user flairs (name tags), but that required manual account connection from each user and Reddit soon gave up on it. Then, Patreon managed to cause some political controversy, which I really didn't care about, but seemed big enough of a deal to drive away some of my Patrons from the platform, making me revive my PayPal donation form as an alternative.

With all of this background story, you can imagine that I got quite excited when GitHub (now owned by Microsoft, who seem to invest a lot into it) announced GitHub Sponsors. GitHub Sponsors is like a small Patreon, directly integrated with GitHub, for open-source projects that already are on GitHub. They started the program on an application basis, and I applied with Citybound as early as I could, citing that the project already had a well working Patreon page.

Recently, Citybound (or me, to be precise) got accepted, and I can now be sponsored on GitHub!

To really drive adoption, GitHub decided to throw money at their new idea and is offering something quite radical:

GitHub matches all your donations for the first year after a project was accepted to GitHub Sponsors.

That means that for every $1 you donate on GitHub, I get another $1 from GitHub/Microsoft!

To be completely honest with you, I wouldn't have considered a hard switch from Patreon without this offer, but why shouldn't GitHub's stronger desire to be a hub for open source projects become fulfilled?

For this reason and the ones outlined above, I will be contacting all my current Patrons and persuading them to switch. Although the account creation and payment setup on GitHub might take an annoying minute, it would literally double how much your contribution helps me.

I'm looking forward to hopefully many of you making the switch and maybe some of you considering supporting Citybound for the first time. If successful, it will allow me to consolidate the Citybound community around the three natural places of activity: this website, the Citybound subreddit and the Citybound GitHub repository.

When I get around to it, I will come up with an updated in-game perks system, which I'm already planning to base on overall contribution amount across all donation platforms, to really treat everyone fairly.

I'm very interested in what you think about this!

→ Discussion on /r/Citybound