So there’s a pretty big difference between the statement they put out, and what Jack has been telling news outlets about the change.
Their statement says this:
We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around.
Note that they say absolutely nothing about which problems, specifically, they want to address. What becomes clear rather quickly is that the problem was and is payment processing – most likely batching payments.
But “the system that my co-founder came up with 4 years ago in 25 days” needs to be updated. Patreon has to abide by credit card processing rules while keeping enough revenue to stay alive. Conte tells me Patreon still has a bunch of new premium tools in the works for creators, a storefront for selling merchandise for example, that will be unveiled in the coming year and will help it earn more money to keep the platform sustainable. But many creators surely construed the payment structure change as a way for Patreon to jack up fees.
By Wednesday, Conte said Patreon was reversing the policy change. The fee structure still needs to change, he said, but not in the way they had originally planned.
The new fees, Conte said, were always going to come with trade-offs for creators and patrons alike. “We thought these trade-offs were worth it. We thought that the cons of the new system were worth it,” he said. “And creators have been adamant, they’ve been clear, they’ve been overwhelmingly clear with this that the trade-offs are not worth it.”
Conte said unequivocally that Patreon did not reverse course because people were deleting their Patreon accounts. “The reason for rolling back the change was not disproportionate pledge deletion,” he said. “It was the amount of anger.”
Conte said Patreon still must find a way to fix its payments processing problem. But going forward, he plans to gather more qualitative data from users before rolling out changes.
“Creators are really skeptical of getting screwed by tech companies,” Conte told BuzzFeed News. “‘Here’s another tech platform coming along that’s going to screw us.’ They’ve been screwed over and over, and that makes me so mad at myself and upset. I do not want Patreon do be one of those platforms that doesn’t listen to our users and hurts them.”
It’s actually kind of impressive how quickly Jack moves to shoot himself in the foot every time he does something. (That last bit is a giant eyeroll if you’ve been following his posts for the last week.)
He’s basically confirmed they’re going to have a fee increase at some point, probably hidden on the creator’s side so as to not anger patrons. He’s more or less confirmed that they expected the hit to pledges and didn’t care until people got furious (which, if you’re a creator … holy shit).
Nothing’s really changed; all they did today was kick the can down the road in the hope that people will stop being mad. And given that there’s no viable competitor at the moment … it might work?! UGH.
In any case, the damage to creators has already been done. Everyone now knows exactly how incompetent Patreon is as a service. The real question is what, if anything, can anyone do about it, when everyone is stuck trying to survive in a system that incentivizes making and breaking platforms for profit.
Anyway, if you’re a creator, you should probably click on the feedback link buried at the end of Patreon’s announcement.