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Itch.io – Marketplace for Indie Games (itch.io)
170 points by galfarragem 51 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments



Itch is very cool. Their tools are dev friendly, even the download client got released as open source (https://github.com/itchio).

And on the publishing side, they allow anyone to publish on the site, for free, no hoops to jump through. And if it's a paid app, they charge much less than Steam / iTunes / etc. Too bad they're not as popular with players.

But I'm idly curious why Itch popped up now, since it's been around for years.


I've been following @fasterthanlime on Twitter for a while, and it's always really nice seeing them constantly trying to make itch.io the best it can be or working with people to fix bugs they've hit. As far as I know, it's a just them and leafo running it.


@fasterthanlime was in the same uni I was, he basically lead a project for students in first year when he was in second year, a really impressive coder.


I remember that! We guided first-year CS students through implementing a complete BitTorrent client.

I put a lot of work into that project (giving extra presentations to students who had additional questions, uploading unofficial slide decks with extra information about the protocol etc.)

It's one of my favorite memories of EPFL! We had a ton of fun organizing it, and it was exciting to have students work on something closer to the real-world than usual. We did hear from the network admins once everybody's implementation started working, though... they weren't exactly thrilled!


Hi I'm from India and would love to buy from itch.io if you support regional pricing. I know it is a hard problem to solve and requires a lot of variables like payment processors and such, and is probably not lucrative enough, but this is what prevents me from buying from itch.io.


Itch is a 2 engineer operation. Its incredible.

They could undercut steam by 20% for each sale.


As a gamer, I haven't really dived into Itch even though I see it recommended all the time. This is despite being a Linux gamer, a fan of indie games, a supporter of open source and a believer in multiple marketplaces (although I feel like we need better aggregators and agnostic sync/update tools).

I think the problem may be that I have absolutely no idea where to start. With Steam I started with games that came with Steam that I wanted anyway (Portal, Left 4 Dead). With Humble I started with Overgrowth and their original bundles. GOG was a great place to get games that I had already played or wanted to play and now is a good place to get DLC free stuff.

So with Itch I think what is missing is a 'killer app'. Not a 'killer feature' (it has plenty of those), but more a draw that will give me enough drive and interest to overcome the initial cognitive energy barrier to entry.

Taking recommendations!


I don't have any personal recommendations, but next time you are looking at purchasing an indie game, you might consider checking if it's available on Itch first. That's how I got into it anyway. The developers I've talked to prefer that I buy on there as well because they take much less of a cut than others stores.


For interesting short games, check out past game jam entrants from something like ludum dare (https://ldjam.com) or the game jam tag on itch. They're usually free, short, and interesting. It reminds me a lot of old newgrounds, where you could find an interesting new game to play for 1/2 hour.


> I'm idly curious why Itch popped up now, since it's been around for years.

I expect this comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19012083


yep my game is on itch. It's a great community. The tools and the developer side of the website are very good.


I did just some experimenting mixing genres, packaged into a browser game. itch low barrier to entry was great to find testers. got couple thousand person try it, with a 30% retention over a week, which to me, being hobbyist at the first game, is a huge success.


I'd love to support this service. They do everything right - they take 0% of the game and give the entire amount to the devs. In contrast Steam takes 25% (earlier 30%). The tools itch offers to devs to package/upload their game are considered to be best-in-class in the industry and they're all open source [0]. There's an excellent article that talks about the difficulties in creating a competitor to Steam, and the kicker is "the service you're thinking of already exists - it's called itch.io" [1].

And yet when I think of an indie game I want to buy, it's not there. Just today I saw an excellent review [2] for a game called Hollow Knight. I couldn't find it on itch, ended up buying it on Steam instead. FWIW, the game is also available on gog.com, the Humble store and all consoles, so it's not like the devs haven't taken the effort to make their game accessible.

[0] - https://github.com/itchio

[1] - https://www.fortressofdoors.com/so-you-want-to-compete-with-...

[2] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksexEs7FKf4


You are using itch wrong. It's like Netflix: you don't use it with a movie in mind. They won't have it. Instead, you go to it to find something new that they are recommending.


Your main point is still valid but Steam still takes 30% on the first $10 million in sales [0]. If you're an indie, this is almost certainly not going to apply to you [1].

There are a few new options for game marketplaces such as itch.io, the discord store, and the epic games store. All of them take a lower cut than steam. However, so far none of the steam alternatives have a large number of popular games.

[0] https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2018/12/01/steam-taking-sma... [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WycVOCbeKqQ


Many excellent indie games are on itch though - take Celeste, for example.

https://mattmakesgames.itch.io/celeste


Oh of course, Itch does have several games. It's just that it didn't have the game I wanted when I went there. It might be a long time before I want to try a game and check out itch once more.

Coincidentally the video I linked reviewed Celeste in addition to Hollow Knight, but Girlfriend liked the latter much more. That's why I went with Hollow Knight.


Note that if you purchase Hollow Knight from Humble or GOG, you get a DRM-free binary that runs anywhere. You own the game and don't need a client like Steam running in the background.

For those who don't know, gog.com is basically the same as itch.io, although I'm pretty sure GOG has a strict policy against DRM, whereas Itch seems to just say "we don't implement any DRM ourselves". GOG also has a much wider selection currently. That said, Itch is doing a lot right, as you say, and I'll support the service by buying any games I want that are available there.


I'd disagree with your characterization of GOG. I'd say they're more like a DRM free Steam. Just like Steam they also charge 30%. I also have a somewhat negative bias against them because several years ago they announced they were shutting down in under a week. This turned out to be a PR stunt but I haven't bought anything from them since.

They're also an excellent example of how tough this space is. Even though they're owned by CD Project Red you can still buy games like the Witcher on Steam.


I agree that the "shutdown" stunt was poorly executed, but it did have the effect they intended.

Here is a quote from discussions on slashdot at the time:

> Plus, they must suck at advertising. This is the first I heard of them.

https://www.slashdot.org/story/141308

Also, as people pointed out at the time - with GOG at least you don't need their servers to be online to reinstall from your backups.


> they take 0% of the game

Not exactly, they charge 10% or allow you to setup your own merchant gateways.

https://itch.io/docs/creators/payments

That 10% is well worth it for having them deal with the tax/VAT madness.


Well, not exactly too. They charge 10% by default, but allow you to set any percentage (including 0%) regardless of the chosen payment mode. The only fees still left are the payment processor ones.

Personally I have set 30%, because they deserve it.


No, they literally allow you to give them 0%. The 10% listed is an example as it's the default, the slider goes down to 0% if developers don't want to give them anything.


We need to evolve the terminology. The games on Itch.io are not Indie games - they are sub-Indie. Mostly amateur, hobbyist and school projects.

People who are making games as a serious side-gig or full-time job (ie. the typical definition of Indie) are all on Steam, and the best Indies are on console and Epic Games Store.

People want curation and less junk on Steam. Itch.io is exclusively... uncurated junk.

I think Itch.io would thrive if Steam increased their listing fee (Steam Direct) to $2,000 and required $100 annually if the game generated below $2,000 of gross revenue. This would be great for Indie games and consumers on Steam, but would give Itch.io an opening on the low end, so its probably why Valve isn't doing it. Ironically they are pushing their own top customers (and suppliers) to Epic with this strategy though!

I think Itch.io would be better with some kind of very cheap subscription, or being supported by advertising or sponsorship (integrated into game distributables). It could be like the Newgrounds of the next generation. It should be the place where you can try out low-end games for very little costs, secure in the knowledge that the executable has at least been verified for malware.


This is wildly inaccurate. There are at least a few very well known game publishers such as Double Fine that have their games on itch.io. In addition, there are more than a few critically acclaimed indie titles such as Celeste, Crosscode, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, and others.

While I agree that I would personally prefer a more curated view, itch.io is intentionally pursuing an open marketplace and that means developers of all skills and kinds and all types of projects are represented.


This year's 7-day roguelike challenge had all the entrants put their games on itch.io [0]. In the episode of Roguelike Radio [1] that covered the 7drl, they lauded itch for requiring a working download, since entrants are allowed to use any platform at all (some write in c with raw escape codes written to the terminal, some write PICO-8 games, etc), and in years pay the hardest part of judging has been getting some of the games to run at all.

It turns out people who like making roguelikes in a 7 day sprint don't tend to prioritize little things like making sure their work can actually be played.

[0] https://itch.io/jam/7drl-challenge-2018 [1] http://www.roguelikeradio.com/2012/03/episode-26-how-to-make...


This year's 7DRL starts in just over a month, on March 2! :) https://itch.io/jam/7drl-challenge-2019

I can highly recommend the challenge. It's a great community, it's got an organized judging phase, and roguelikes are one of the easiest genres to get into, especially for programmers. You can do all systems and no graphics if you want.

Also, I think you meant to link to this episode (the one you linked came out the year before itch launched) http://www.roguelikeradio.com/2018/05/episode-145-7drls-2018...

I was on this one and we talked about itch quite a bit. My submission last year also ranked #1 and I bet HN might find it interesting as it's got a hacking theme: https://itch.io/jam/7drl-challenge-2018/rate/232187


Argh, thank you for those corrections. I had just listened to the RR episode, did a quick search for it, and copied the link for the first result assuming it was the right one.


They also publish PDFs for table top games, which I think is cool, since the other big player in that space, DriveThruRPG, has a slow interface for both users and authors of role playing games.


I was trying to explain Itch to a colleague recently and settled for "You know Bandcamp? It's that, for games." Two super-friendly platforms for independent creators.

On the other hand, I don't use either of them as a customer. Bandcamp because I prefer the way Spotify helps me discover music based on my listening history, and Itch because it feels like a bit too much visually when I'm browsing games there as opposed to Steam/GoG.


Just had a look and it feels very "designed by engineers". Clearly the idea was to put as much content on the landing page as possible instead of thinking about what they want people to see.


They also have the most dev friendly fees I've seen. You're only obligated to pay credit card fees, beyond that is a voluntary percent of sales you can give to Itch (set at 10% by default.


True or not, itch has always been categorized in my head as "the place you put your game if you can't get on steam/GOG", like having your website hosted on geocities instead of your own domain.

I don't know what could be done to change that stigma, maybe a "killer app" as someone else in the comments said, because as has been pointed out, everything else about the platform seems favorable.


I think that's a common perception of the site, but the barrier to entry on Steam nowadays is a 100 dollar fee. Nowadays if you want your game on Steam, you can get it on Steam.


Agreed, and I think Steam's perception is eroding but still there. If a AAA dev released on itch, I think it would get instant elevation in status. But the way things are going, they're opening their own stores instead.


Shoutout to Leaf and Amos for building such a great community for indies and continuously adding more features to itch.io: https://twitter.com/moonscript & https://twitter.com/fasterthanlime


Interestingly enough, I first heard of Itch not because of the games they publish but because they've become quite popular in the transgender community as a platform for publishing light novels with transgender themes.


check the HTML5 stuff for games you can play right now (most are free):

https://itch.io/games/html5


Itch is great. Their search by tags system is broken, but everything else is wonderful.

Full disclosure: I publish on itch. Https://failrate.itch.io


how is it broken? (I do know our search results page isn't ideal, but if you search a tag there's a link that takes yo to that relevant page)


Well, in recent memory, I tried searching by tag, and it straight up didn't find a known result with that tag.

To be completely fair, I will regress the bug and see if it is still present. If so, I will submit a bug report.


Could not reproduce. It was maybe user error.


If only solving bullying was so easy... https://ibb.co/q5Cy94Y


Itch is awesome, been up for years!

I run a semi-competitor called https://simmer.io. My focus is:

-WebGL Games (only, no downloads) -Youtube style presentation (and embedding) -Being the easiest place to upload a game, no rigamarole. Drag your webgl build onto the page and call it a day.

We have about 2500 games and developers signed up. It's currently mostly a place to show off your work, but working on more monetization options right now.

Feel free to reach out if you have any feedback or ideas for the site. rocco@simmer.io




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