Kickin’ it with Eric and JC – Tiny Cartridge Patreon

by Antonio Garcia

Patreon is a fairly recent crowdfunding platform that offers a new alternative to the familiar funding routes such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. With Patreon, communities can fund projects and artists in much the same way aristocrats used to. For our first feature on a Patreon project, we decided to get in touch with Eric and JC over at Tiny Cartridge. What follows is the result of mixing punch, Skittles and root beer before an interview.

4cr: Hello, hello, welcome to this Kickin’ It With! Right this way, kind sirs. Could you let our readers know who you are and what you think you do with your lives?

Eric: Old timers at 4 Color Rebellion should recognize me! I got my start writing about games as part of a team at 4CR way back in the day, after hanging out in the group’s IRC chat. Even then, I was infatuated with handheld games, something I carried along with me to my gigs at DS Fanboy/Joystiq, Gamasutra, GameSetWatch, and eventually Tiny Cartridge — which is the portable gaming Tumblr blog I run now with JC, our mascot Tiny, and a lizard.

JC: Like Eric, I’ve been a handheld game enthusiast for a long time, getting my start at DS Fanboy. As my life goes on, I find myself increasingly reliant on handhelds for all my game time, especially as I get ever busier. It’s just a lot more convenient! It’s a good thing I’m already inclined toward handhelds.

4cr: With the way that crowdfunding has exploded at so many sites (Kickstarter and Indiegogo being the big ones) you two have decided to go to Patreon for something a bit different. What can you tell us about Patreon, and about YOUR campaign?

Eric: The best way to describe Patreon is that it’s like Kickstarter, except instead of paying one big amount for a potential product, you’re supporting a site or artist you appreciate by sending over a small amount every now and then — in our case, each month — to help them keep making what they want to make.

It helps give us the financial flexibility to spend more time and resources on the site, both of which we’re short on due to our full-time gigs (I have a full-time office job, and JC is a full-time dad to two girls). So we can work less on freelance stuff for other people, instead putting that effort into Tiny Cartridge. Plus we get to share some cute rewards with our supporters through our “Club Tiny” program.

JC: I’ll add that this Patreon drive means we look for new rewards every month instead of all at once. I guess it’s a bit more work, but it’s more fun to keep sharing neat stuff with the people who share with us, and we get to highlight some of our favorite things in the process.

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4cr: You’ve already secured almost $800 a month in pledges, and I noticed that the next milestone is to get to $1,500 a month for opening the floor for collaborations. Why the huge gap between $700 and $1,500?

Eric: Freelance writing and artist commission rates can run pretty high — working with two or three quality people a month, and paying them the rates they deserve for their talent, can set you back $500 easily. At the same time, we have to consider taxes, the 5% Patreon takes for its cut, and the ~3% credit card processing fees each month.

At the end of that, we, as in JC and I, are not collecting much from the extra pledges coming in despite our readers more than doubling the contribution amount. Maybe the solution is to just work with one contributor per month, or to overhaul the next milestone completely. It’s something we’re thinking about, when we’re not busy trying to make sure we deliver our promises to the people who have already supported us.

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4cr: How much do you both love Animal Crossing?

Eric: Immensely. It was our favorite game of 2013, our Year of Luigi! I almost wish other developers would stop releasing great games so I could have the time to return to my town of Buttocks, and once again host online tours. I had a wicked basketball court and sushi restaurant in my Animal Crossing: New Leaf museum.

JC: Too much! The nature of writing about games, and the release of other stuff I was excited about, meant I had to stop playing, but I wish I still had an hour a day for AC. My museum’s public restroom is still unfinished.

Tiny Cartridge Animal Crossing Code

4cr; Thank you for your time. Any final words before you explode?

Eric: I’m always surprised when people tell me that they thought Tiny Cartridge is something we do as our day jobs, or presumed it’s backed by another company. It’s just a Tumblr run by two guys who love handheld games, and somehow it’s grown into one of the biggest gaming communities on the platform. We’re super appreciative to our readers for helping us build that, and for encouraging us to keep running Tiny Cartridge with the same personality and enthusiasm we’ve put into it for the past five years.

Thanks to everyone who has shown their support on Patreon – and to everyone who has ever read our site in the first place. When we started writing Tiny Cartridge, I didn’t think we’d still be doing it five years later. I was sure we’d run out of time or nobody would ever read the site or something like that. And, of course, we’ve been facing down the INEVITABLE decline and death of handheld games for that whole time.

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