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‘Critical Role’ Launches ‘Beacon’ – Like But for Critters

4 Minute Read
May 9 2024

Critical Role announced that they were gonna do a and launch their own “membership service”, Beacon.

Sam Reich will probably never live down a lot of things. But, among those things is reframing the whole streaming game, with the launch of It’s funny, Dropout originally grew out of the enshittification of comedy websites right before the beginning of the pandemic. No really.

Funny or Die and CollegeHumor both were suckered in by Facebook manipulating view counts to try and beat YouTube at the online video platform game. It’s a standard move you see in a lot of other industries. Make yourself look so good, get everyone to use you, slowly get worse. Only Facebook forgot the “slowly” part of getting worse and got caught in a lie instead.

As a result, lots of layoffs, and the online comedy world was kind of rocked by it. But, out of that grew, the home of Dimension 20. D20 carried the torch for a while as Dropout was reconfiguring. But what does any of this have to do with Critical Role?

Well, today Critical Role announced Beacon, a new “membership program” or “digital destination” depending on which part of the marketing you read. In a nutshell, it looks like it’s a Dropout/early access kind of thing.

Let’s take a look.

Critical Role launches Beacon, Tries to Figure Out How to Say “We’re doing a Dropout” Without Saying That

What the heck is a “membership service?” Or a “digital destination”? Well, don’t worry. They’re not doing a Watcher, nothing is getting locked behind a paywall. For those who watch Critical Role on Twitch and YouTube, and there are a lot of you out there, nothing will change. You can still watch freely on the regular schedule. Which is great to say upfront. That’s one way to have to avoid releasing an apology video three days later.

As they explain in the “State of the Role” video announcing the new service, this is giving them their own video platform, bringing everything a little more “in-house” so that, for instance, if their content gets demonetized for swearin’ a cuss, as Marisha Ray puts it, “for having the vocabulary of teenage sailors”, they still have something.

It’s basically like a Patreon but Critical Role is cutting out the middleman, for instance. Instead of your subscription going partially to Twitch or Patreon taking a cut, they get your money directly. Which means more and better content. At least, that’s the promise.

Beacon is, in Critical Role’s words, “a specialized service for Critters to gain early and exclusive access to all things Critical Role.” Which means no change for free viewers, but those who become Beacon members get a few things immediately, including two new exclusive series:

  • Critical Role Fireside Chat (LIVE): Join us in the tavern for a monthly Ask Me Anything (AMA) series where you can sit down with us and learn more about our Critical Role cast and guests! Questions will be curated directly from Beacon members via Discord and each episode will feature a different cast member for a 30-60 minute LIVE fireside chat. Cozy up by the fire and enjoy the deep dive with us starting May 21st with our first guest, Matthew Mercer.
  • Critical Role Cooldown: Get a backstage pass to a Critical Role episode! You’ll be right there at the table immediately after Matthew says “Is it Thursday yet?”, experiencing the cast’s post-show reactions. If you’ve ever wondered what lies just beyond the curtain, this is your chance to find out! Starting with Campaign 3, Episode 83, you’ll get instant access to 10 episodes with new episodes dropping every Thursday with each new Critical Role episode.

As well as “early access” aka you get to see it before everyone else does:

  • Critical Role Abridged, which sadly, isn’t like DBZ Abridged. It instead condenses a Critical Role episode down to 60-90 minutes for those of you who want to watch Critical Role but who just don’t have the time to watch one 4-hour thing but instead can watch four 1-hour things.
  • Re-Slayer’s Take, a new series premiering on Beacon, but coming to Podcast platforms everywhere on May 20th (subscribers will have episodes about two weeks ahead of the feeds). Re-Slayer’s Take is a group of monster-hunting mercenaries out to make their fame and fortune.

And more importantly, early access to ticket sales for upcoming live events, as well as an exclusive Discord because everyone has one of those. Even BoLS has one. It’s gonna suck when Discord starts to enshittify, but, try to enjoy the good times while they’re here.

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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