For a while now, musicians have heralded Bandcamp as a wonderful sales platform for music that allows them to step outside the traditional sales methods – iTunes, physical distribution and so on – and sell directly to their fans quickly and easily. A new album could go from being finished to being on sale within ten minutes. Video games are now getting that chance courtesy of itch.io.
With many new indie developers now emerging, this new platform couldn’t have come at a better time. Gaming Realms, the company behind Spin Genie, has said that the online gaming market, which in 2012 was worth US$35 billion, is expected to grow to US$42 billion by 2015, making it an extremely appealing market for would-be developers. But what makes itch.io better than Steam Greenlight or just launching on the Play Store and iTunes directly? It all boils down to ease for developers.
Itch.io makes a name for itself by enabling developers to upload games of up to 500MB (with larger games at special request) and sell them at whatever price point they deem ideal. It’s quick, it’s easy, there’s no weird deals or sacrifices to make, and they’re currently not even taking a cut of whatever money comes in from the stuff you’re selling. You can also give away games for free, if you want to get your game out their but don’t feel confident enough about charging for it.
In this piece by Joshua Dennison, indie game developer Amos Wenger speaks about his experiences with itch.io:
“It really doesn’t get any easier… I just signed up on the website, created a game page, uploaded the Linux/Mac/Windows builds, specified my Paypal account, set a price, and hit publish! There’s no review process, so publishing was immediate!”
This is the sort of startup project that the games industry sorely needs. When more and more developers are seeking an alternative means to publish their work, much as musicians did before them, projects like itch.io will result in success for both their creators and the people these projects serve. It’s almost development philanthropy, given it makes no money from games at this stage, it’s an incredibly smart way of getting a lot of developers on board before the 10% fee comes into play. Even then, that’s a small cut.
IndieStatik features an interview with itch.io creator Leaf Corcoran, who talks about the platform’s accessibility and ease of use with the enthusiasm of someone who is genuinely interested in both concepts.
“The ability to publish instantly is also very important,” says Corcoran. “Right now, when you think of an indie game marketplace, Steam Greenlight is probably the first thing that comes to mind. High-profile indie games typically have no trouble making it through the vetting process, but there are so many more lesser-known developers that are really going to struggle getting published. itch.io removes all barriers, letting a game developer create an account and start selling immediately.”
Itch.io appears to be the solution to a lot of problems. But what matters is a developer’s ability to sell their game, once it is on this new platform. They need to think outside the box, because as Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail states, it’s difficult to be seen on an entirely open sales platform. Going via YouTube and other video platforms and the content creators who use those platforms is a smart move. The same goes for Bandcamp – standing out on a sales platform requires more than just being a really good musician. For now, though, itch.io seems like the best way to go about selling your work, and it’s an exciting new project whether you’re a creator or a customer.