Why is Itch.io at the Forefront of Indie Games?
Although not as much as a household name compared to Steam and Epic Games, Itch.io scratches the back of indie developers and pushes the genre forward.
In a nutshell, the website, created by Leaf Corcoran, is a platform for developers to publish and release their creations. Thing is, you won’t get to see big-name triple-A studios here. Instead, you’ll be treated to small passion projects created by tiny teams and established indie developers. There isn’t anything made with a huge budget here. The platform has a plethora of pocket-sized games and other pieces of content you may not have heard of but are willing to try out.
With that in mind, Itch.io is a true indie game platform. It rises where other platforms fail, helping small developers start making a name for themselves and some profit while engaging in community projects. It’s at the forefront of the aforementioned field, and here’s why we think why:
Indie games galore
Developing a game is a huge challenge. Huge games like God of War and GTA V took years to fully develop, even with millions of dollars and manpower. The same can be said about indie games. Although some are created by medium-sized studios with minimal funding from publishers, many are tiny projects by an individual or by a group of friends.
You’ll get to see popular indies like Flappy Bird, Celeste, and Dead Cells on Itch. In addition, you’ll be treated to obscure yet interesting titles like:
Venice 2089, a game about a girl exploring Venice on a hoverboard while the city sinks.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue, where you fight fire in turn-based battles.
Pendula Swing, a point-and-click adventure set in America in the 1920s.
Although you likely haven’t seen these games on major headlines, they’re incredibly well-made and something you’d want to add to your list. Apart from these, there are thousands of other games that may fit your fancy and could be your next guilty pleasure.
A “safe” platform for indie developers
In a way, Itch.io is a safe platform for indie developers. Releasing on large platforms like Steam comes with a huge risk, requiring large amounts of money while facing the uncertainty of getting your investment back. The website gets this done by giving developers the freedom of how much they’ll give back to the site (by default, it’s 10%). In addition, it also allows devs to list their games for free, and instead, giving users the option to pay more.
Although it’s not exactly the best and most profitable business model for the website, it’s a safe haven for many people who want to share their interactive creations online. It comes with minimal risk and a potentially good payout.
A throwback to browser and flash games
As a kid who loved free flash and browser games in the past, 12-year-old me would have loved Itch.io. There are simply so many games to play and experiences to dive into. In a way, it’s like a throwback to the time where Miniclip and Newgrounds were at their heyday. Sure, you’ll be exposed to games that won’t get widespread acclaim, but you’ll have lots of fun nonetheless.
Itch.io is a small outfit compared to its peers and unlike them, they’re not exactly profit-driven as evidenced by their lax pricing and royalty. Moreover, they’re also well moderated and are responsive to messages from developers.
Recently, the platform ran a campaign ran a campaign titled Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, raising $8.1 million, three more than its initial goal. It involved selling a set of games including Celeste and Night in the Woods with the profits going to the proper organizations.
Game jams and education
Another outstanding part of Itch.io is its highly-popular “game jams” which also occur everywhere on the web but are an everyday occurrence there. In a nutshell, this involves creating games and various content for a few hours or a couple of days using the same assets. It’s like an impromptu essay contest wherein the subject and research materials are given a minute before you start writing.
This has a huge potential in education. Imagine colleges and universities offering game development courses coordinating with Itch.io to host competitions and lessons. Sure, the output may not be considered high-quality, but it can be a great start to forge and temper the skills of many aspiring developers.
A content marketplace
Finally, Itch.io isn’t just a games marketplace. It’s also a spot where people can purchase books, comics, art, and various assets like pixel art and various tools to help in developing games. If you’re an aspiring developer, this marketplace is a perfect spot to check out usable assets that fit your vision like a glove.
Though it may not be a big name, Itch.io is for indie developers, their games, and gamers. It’s a platform where you can promote your project, be entertained, and even participate in activities that can expand your skills. Whether you’re a huge indie gaming fan or otherwise, it’s definitely a platform you have to check out.