Reaction to McCloud’s Micropayments Project

Several sites have posted reactions to Scott McCloud’s use of a new micropayment system to sell Part 1 of The Right Number for a quarter.

Comic Book Resources has a short write up of Scott McCloud’s press release.

Slashdot posted a short piece on it today and has generated a substantial number of replies already.

Penny Arcade and Goats have both posted more skeptical, sober reactions to the announcement.

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.


  1. Interesting post I copied from Slashdot:

    Personally I don’t think micropayments will work because it goes against the basic way we all use the web. You fire up a web browser, you navigate to where you want to go, stuff shows up in the browser window. The stuff in that window you pretty much never worry about paying for.

    I think that when people spend money, and it doesn’t matter how much, they like to have something tangible in their hands. A book, a poster, whatever. Having to pay to just look at something. Paying for gif or jpg files arranged on your screen (or flash versions, whatever) just doesn’t feel like it has any value. I think people just don’t warm up to the concept. Its like the whole DivX thing – it failed because people did NOT like the idea of owning a disk and having to pay for each time they viewed the what was on it. It was like ‘I own this, yet I am locked out’. Video Rentals work fine, because we use something tangible, and we return it. We’ve paid to use something tangible, and we gave it back.

    The web is a little similar to that – we expect to be able to access stuff when we go to a site. Successful pay for content sites usually work because the gateway to that content is a subscription fee and you get a LOT of content in return. Webcomics don’t work well under that because, well, its hard to produce that much content that quick ^^;;;. Comic require a lot of work of a long period of time. In fact, one of the nice things about comics is that they have the ability to improve over time because the creators get better, and they build a backlist of comics to view – the body of work slowly becomes something of value over time.

    By the time you work up to have enough content that is worth charging for, you cant suddenly make your archives pay-only. At least, I personally feel its wrong. Making something that was once free suddenly a pay thing doesn’t work, and just makes people feel like they are being used and abused. After all, it’s the readers who have been reading and finding the comic and the site that have made it something of value in the fist place.

    The micropayment idea is, logically, a wonderful idea – small payments for small bits of content. Biggest problem it has, to me, is that it smacks of metering – people hate being metered. People like to relax while going thru things – ask most people, they’d rather pay a bigger fee for unlimited usage than worry about what their bill will be later – even if it’s more expensive in the long run. People spend money emotionally, not with the logic portion of their brain.

    People hate ‘pay for what you use’ models. The more media companies push this idea that it’s the viewing of the content that you are paying for, the more people thumb their noses and download mp3s and fire up bittorents of DVD rips.

    Making the nature of the digital world work with the way the confluxicated human mind works is not always an easy task. While I said it wont work, I think its very much worth a try. I have a bit of a personal issue with making people pay for anything art related, because I don’t feel that just viewing , listening, watching or reading anything creative should ever be paid for – there is enough money to be made in between the cracks with the incidentals that all this worry over actually getting paid for content sometimes puzzles me 🙂 But my views on this are a little extreme, and really, I only apply them to my own works (in fact, I decided to no put something in a magazine publication because I decided that it was ripping people off to make them pay for it first)

    Yet, somehow, I’ve managed to survive, and its not right for me to think that others might do it the same ways I have. Maybe micropayments are the thing, I dunno, I just draw stuff, what do I know 😛


  2. The follow-up is at least as enlightening.

    When you pay an admission fee at an art gallery – you take away nothing tangible. When you pay to see a theatrical performance – you take away nothing tangible. When you go to the movies – nothing tangible.
    Charge $10 admission and give them a hurried look at two paintings before shoving them out the door and people will complain. Charge $7 for a piece of drek like Battlefield Earth, and people will complain.
    Give me a year’s worth of megatokyo archive for a quarter – I’m a satisfied customer. Give me a daily Megatokyo of the same length and quality as you’ve been providing and I’ll pay a penny per strip very, very gladly.

  3. Here’s mine. As I see it, the success of the system depends on having more things to buy with it. While, as I said, I am perfectly happy to pay what is essentially a $3 subscription to everything Scott does for the next year or so, that by itself is not going to support the model. BitPass needs to realize quickly that they’ve got to get more sellers under their umbrella while the buzz from The Right Number is still fresh, and that means replacing “sorry, we’re in beta, come back later” with “here’s all the info you need to become a BitPass-enabled vendor”… very, very soon, like now.

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