Digital Goods Services Should Provide a Way to Tip the Creator


Every month for the past few years I’ve been growing a library of “free” games from PlayStation’s PSPlus Subscription service. Some are good, some not so much, and some are simply… interesting. However, every once in a while there’s an absolute gem, often an indie title, that I become engrossed in and spend far more than a few hours with (looking your way Rocket League and Velocity). These are often games that I wouldn’t have tried if it were not for the PSPlus subscription but after spending so much time with them, I have this feeling of guilt that there’s little I can do to show my appreciation to the creators for their work. There’s no way for me to toss a few shekels their way as a means to say, “Thanks.”

Now, I know that statement to not be always true; I can purchase the game on another platform such as Steam, or in rare cases, an actual physical copy of the game. There’s also an inherent problem with the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) in that if I do choose to get a game for “free” through PSPlus, I can never again purchase it through SEN, even if my subscription ends. But that’s besides the point, and maybe a post for another day. The point is, digital services and stores in general should offer some sort of direct tipping service for content creators, a method that doesn’t rip 30% of the selling price away from the creators. And it shouldn’t be there only for games that are/were free at some point because even if I had paid for a game, perhaps I feel the need to give a little more.

Needs a little tip jar..
Needs a little tip jar..

But this isn’t restricted to only the SEN, or Steam, or even games in general. There are many forms of digital media that I occasionally feel like I’m not “giving enough”, and in which going out and finding an alternate way to pay for something feels inconvenient. Services like Netflix, and Spotify come to mind.

In the recent months since I’ve started using Spotify, there have been countless albums I’ve enjoyed a disturbing number of times but I’ve paid nothing more than a subscription. Albums like Breaking Benjamin’s Dark Before the Dawn, Alien Ant Farm’s Always and Forever, and Caspian’s Waking Season, but yet I’ve paid not much more than it would cost to buy just one of those albums. I could go to another service, purchase each album in full in a format I’ll never again use, but that’s stupid and inconvenient for everyone, and perhaps I also don’t feel a whole album purchase is worth what I actually listened to in each case. It’d be great if I could just tap on a tip jar and toss a dollar or two their way, I can’t imagine it would be difficult to implement or even keep track of. Lord knows it’s more than they actually get paid from Spotify or other services to begin with. It might even help with that exact problem.

This might make sound like some rich person with more money than sense, but like many, the reason I’ve turned to subscription services is to save money and make my life convenient. I’m not saying or even suggesting that every little piece of content I consume is worth more than the 30 cents the creators get from my subscription, but every once in a while, I enjoy something enough that I want to give them a little something extra.

It’s really something all digital stores and services should provide, and it’s a damn shame that it’s not already SOP. But until then, I’ll continue to send a message to the creators through Twitter, write Ryan’s Rockin’, and tell my friends.

– Ryan


Author: Ryan

Ryan is a Quality Assurance Engineer II at BBM and graduated from Ryerson in 2012 with a degree in Computer Science. Ryan is a huge fan of video games, comic books, and rock music. Any opinions expressed are explicitly Ryan’s and do not reflect the opinions of his current, former or future employers in any way. You can follow him on Twitter: @ryan_boudreau