digital publishing on itch dot io

2 March 2021 § guide

May is soon! Wow! It will be a year since I have started publishing on itch dot io under the physical games section. Throughout the year I’ve been mentally collecting various thoughts and resources on digital publishing. Finally I have found the time to share it over the net in a neat blog post.

As always, if you find any stuff I’ve missed or have any questions -> drop me a message.

Contents:

Formats

Accessibility

Game Jams

Communication

Pricing

Page Design


Formats

Itch io allows for almost any kind of content to be uploaded in a variety of ways. Here are some formats I’ve used myself or discovered on the site:

Single Release

The classic. Upload your files and hit save as public page. The beauty of digital publishing is that you can quickly edit and/or upload any revisions you might have after intial release. If you are swapping files, you can give a heads up to those who already got the game with a devlog (which I talk about later in the post) with relevant notes.

Modular

Because itch io allows easy modification of the game page and files, you can split up the release of your game into modules”. Each being a chapter/episode/act of the overall project. Every module can have its own theme/game, or some extra rules in addition to the core” module.

Light by Spencer Campbell and 2400 by Jason Tocci both started out as two page games, but over time grew into an expansive collection of modules that explore different aspects of the game.

Preorder

Which is when you sell copies of your game before it is released. Great for gauging interest and collecting funds for production.

Spark by Spencer Campbell for example does preorders in a more of a season pass style.

Itchfunding

The crowdfunding method in itch io form, what I coined as itchfunds. It is similar to preorders in a way, but you set more concrete goals (in terms of sales/revenue). To have a neat progress bar, you will have to set up the game as a sale.

Check out this list curated by Kegan to see the latest itchfunding games.


Accessibility

Here are some things to keep in mind when exporting to make your content more accessible:


Game Jams

Submitting to jams is a great way to start making and releasing games. It can help you get inspired, get some eyes on your game, and may even result in some connections with other designers. Check out the game jams list that I host to get familiar with ongoing jams.

Organising jams can encourage other designers to create stuff for your game/idea.

Best practises:

Be sure to promote the entries as best you can! Help the people who took their time to engage with your game jam.


Communication

Comments are the default for itch io pages. Great for smaller projects. A space for reviews and feedback.

Forum swaps out the comment section to threads. Each thread can be assigned a topic, so you can keep discussions about your game neatly organised.

Devlogs can be used to make updates for your games. They will be visible on the itch io feed of those who follow you and/or got the game.

Emails take about a week to be approved by itch io (the process is manual). Once it is done, you do not need to be approved again. There’s a limit of one email per day + people have an unsubscribe option, so you should for sure avoid spamming.


Pricing

If you are comfortable with charging for your game, I think you should. Making stuff takes time and effort and you deserve to be fairly compensated. And besides, a price tag doesn’t have to be a barrier for others to check out your game if you set up community copies.

On Community Copies

With these you can charge for your game, and at the same time make it available to anyone who can’t afford it for one reason or another. Check out this guide by Chris to set up Community Copies on your page.

Revenue Sharing

Until itch io add this functionality for single projects, revenue sharing can be done through bundles.

Cellular Harvest and Can Androids Pray are both revenue sharing bundles between two (and three) creators. The same game is hosted on the two creators’ pages, so they can use the bundle feature to share the revenue.

Furthermore, you can organise bundles with several creators to drive your collective sales. Community projects like One Shot Megabundle, Science Fair, Mothership 3rd Party Bundle are an excellent way to boost each other’s work.

Keep in mind that when you save a bundle you cannot change it / add or remove projects. Itch does this so that when participants agree to a bundle, it is not modified without their knowledge.


Page Design

Your game’s page is the first encounter people have with your project. The more the page represents the game, the better. One way of doing that is by showcasing what the game is about using photos and/or screenshots. Here is a neat guide by Star West on using images.

To edit page colours and fonts go to View Page>Edit Theme. There you can also upload a banner and background images. Make sure that there’s plenty of contrast between the text colour and the background.

You can use custom CSS to enhance your creator and game pages, make them more suited for your purposes. You can also do cool custom stuff like unique themes or content warnings. To enable custom CSS on your pages you will have to contact itch io support.


All in all, I hope this guide has helped you in some way! Really looking forward to new ways of using itch io features AND to the growth of itch io as a platform for ttrpg designers. I’m feeling positive for what’s over the horizon…

P.S. You might also check out Itch io creators documentation for a more in depth descriptions of itch io options.