Internet Distribution, and New Business Models

Making it online, when no other format will work — and getting together with a clever business manager (you really need to read the whole article): A Comic Strip Takes Video Games Seriously (Almost)

They have built their (quite modest) fortune at a Web site, www.penny-arcade.com, which, though they would not provide specific figures, has earned enough to support them, their families, two mortgages and a business manager.

The site is attracting several million views a month. With ad rates strong and contracts for creative services coming in, Mr. Krahulik and Mr. Holkins, both 27 and now living in Seattle, have become tastemakers for consumers and moguls in the video game industry.

The site displays a fresh three- or four-panel comic strip three times a week. […]

[…] “Doing comics for such a niche market was not possible before the Internet,” Mr. Krahulik said.

On the Web, he said, word can spread through e-mail, and the curious can simply click on a link.

“Once the ad model took off, we focused more on creative services,” Mr. Khoo said. He saw an opportunity to parlay a recognizable product and style, pushing Mr. Krahulik and Mr. Holkins to develop ads and marketing materials for the same gaming companies they often savage in their strip and the regular editorials they write for the Web site.

[…] Under the plan, Penny Arcade’s visibility and influence has grown. “Penny Arcade resonates for people in the game industry,” said Kevin Bachus, president and chief operating officer of Infinum Labs, which has been a target of the site’s vitriol.

Mr. Bachus said the comic served as a “simple, easy place for the industry to go to get a snapshot of what people are thinking.” Reading the strip is quicker than doing market research, he said, and almost as useful.