Is itch.io Right For You?
There’s burgeoning service gaining popularity with independent developers, allowing them to post their games sans approval and set the prices at will. But it seems too much of the conversation centers around the question, “What is it?!”
We’re here to answer your questions about new digital sales platform, itch.io. And more importantly, if it’s right for everyone.
To get the skinny, we didn’t think there was anyone better to ask than someone who’s used the service, so we got in touch with Amos Wenger, one of the creators of a game now for sale on itch.io. Made in only 48 hours, exploratory platforming game Lestac already shows promise, and his studio (Almighty Suit, formed with his cousin Sylvain Wenger) plans to add loads more before the game is complete.
They’ve placed Lestac for sale on itch.io in order to help fund these future development ideas. Asking the obvious question first, I wondered how easy the process was, and it turns out the service is painless and intuitive.
“It really doesn’t get any easier,” Wenger said enthusiastically. “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!”
An obvious advantage to using itch.io is the ability for nearly anyone to post a game, providing visibility for some games that wouldn’t get it otherwise. Also, compared to other services, Wenger sees the barrier to entry on itch.io as being lower.
“We’ve contacted Humble to sell via the Humble Widget as well,” he said, “but we’re having doubts there. Apparently, managing the Humble Widget happens mostly by e-mail, as opposed to itch.io where you have an admin area with everything you need. GOG & Steam have well-known submission processes and are more heavily curated, so had we targeted them first, it would’ve been harder.”
As with most good things in life, Wenger found out about itch.io through his Twitter connections. Proving once again that the camaraderie of the independent community may be its greatest asset, I Get This Call Everyday creator David Gallant had tipped him off to the service. While marketing and promotion isn’t handled by itch.io, it is easy to make any changes needed, such as placing a game on sale.
“One kind of presence you definitely want to maintain is putting your game on sale,” Wenger stressed. “Again, done in a few clicks via the admin interface! As for keeping the buyers of your game up to date, itch.io gives you the emails of anyone who purchases your games. It’s exportable to [a] CSV [file], so you can feed that into a mailing list system easily. Updating your game is as easy as uploading a new bunch of files via the web interface.”
Creating an entire storefront–a common critique surrounding the entire Steam/Greenlight conversation–is easy with itch.io, as well. Bandcamp might be the nearest analogous sales site, but Wenger even cites ways in which itch.io bests it.
“I found Bandcamp’s download code system to be quite confusing and hindered by artificial limits,” Wenger said, “whereas Itch’s one is as simple as it gets–generate a download link, send it to whoever, shut it down if it’s being abused. That makes dealing with the press and YouTubers a pleasure!”
To hear Lestac developer Amos Wenger tell the tale, it seems like itch.io may be the next great platform to host independent games; its ease of use alone makes it a revelation for many who have struggled to find a way to publish their games. The site is in its infancy, too, so developers may soon start to see a wealth of changes that make itch.io and important part of any portfolio.