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How to maximize your launch on itch.io

To describe the modern indie scene as “crowded” is a major understatement. Reports come out on a seemingly weekly basis that there are more games launching than ever before. Every storefront is busier than ever and if we’re being honest -- we’re no exception. At itch.io we’re acutely aware of the issues facing modern indie developers and while we’re trying our hardest to make the best possible storefront we know that there are still some processes that might be obscure to many developers. Here are our tips for maximizing your itch.io launch.

Customize your page

We’ve got a massively customizable toolset available for you to make your game’s page as unique as the game itself. You can do something thematic like the fading images of Cityglitch or go minimalist like Indigo Child. You have so many options available that leaving the page black-on-white doesn’t make any sense. Not to me at least. If you need inspiration, itch.io’s founder Leaf has a collection of some of his favorites available here.


Mobilize your followers

This advice is valuable anywhere, but it’s still worth highlighting: Nobody will buy your project if they don’t know it exists. Furthermore, the expectation that someone will magically find your game and make you a millionaire is roughly the same as getting struck by lightning. Just because it can happen doesn’t mean you should wear rubber underwear every day.

So what does that leave? If you’ve been telling people about your project you’ve already got a built in following of your most devoted fans. Send them your itch.io page. Tweet the link, send it to your email list, put it on a billboard. You can also embed an itch.io widget onto your site. That way you can keep even more of your profits and monetize your existing homepage.

Talk to us!

We’re passionate about games at itch.io. I don’t think anyone would fight that claim. We hand curate nearly all of the home page on itch.io and we’re always looking for more awesome projects to feature. Sadly, there isn’t enough hours in the day for our team of 6 to comb through each and every game that releases on the service. Maybe one day, but not today. If you want someone at itch.io to know about your upcoming release you have to, well, let one of us know. It’s not a complicated setup but it’s one worth mentioning.

This should be a good starting point for anyone looking to launch their game on itch.io but it’s just that: a starting point. Do you have any tips and tricks for your fellow developers? Share them in the comments below.

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(+1)

Hi all. I've been on itch.io for only a few months and already have made some sales and have all my three paid listed items in the top 10% of 'popular' section. Here's my advice, broken down, for indie devs:

1) Make a creative, high quality product and price it very reasonably. I particularly like going for 'under served' niches and pushing pricing as low as I can justify in hopes this will boost volume of sales and ideally ratings/reviews, improve customer satisfaction, word of mouth from happy people, etc. There are a lot of indie devs here on Itch.IO, almost as many devs as players, and way fewer items in the Game Assets section than in 'Games' so I focused on asset packs out of the gate - which you can see here, with intent to launch my games ie. Miniature Multiverse, a bit later.

2) Promote like crazy online. Forums you're active on, social media, wherever you have a presence and following, use it to hype your project, and if you followed step 1, there won't be a lot of complaints about your mentioning it. I'm doing that now. And if you're thinking, 'selling makes me uncomfortable' then maybe you need to look back at step 1 again, make your product better for customers, until you actually know your product is good and a real bargain for customers, then hopefully you will be able to feel comfortable selling.

3) Visuals sell. If you have some cool imagery, put it front and center, to grab attention, and know animation can be very effective too if you want to go the GIF route.

4) Yes, let people donate. I've had under 20 actual sales [so far], but had multiple buyers buy my items and leave a tip. That happens more frequently when the item is free or dirt cheap AND also good, you'll find people will appreciate the work you did - hundreds upon hundreds of hours of it - and they'll tip more than you think they will.

5) Upsell with a discount - bundles are awesome, people will often click on one item, see it is part of a bundle, and end up choosing the bundle instead even if it costs more. Of course, they're also getting 2 or more products, not one, but it doesn't really matter to you as the 'cost per item' is negligible in a digital store!

6) Use the item itself as advertising. Including a note within the downloadable, like a PDF readme or something, works great. Add your website and itch profile links there, and include discount codes because nobody is a more promising prospect for future sales than people who have already bought one item from you and were pleasantly surprised by it.

7) Your itch.IO product pages should, when useful, remind people that you have other items on Itch.IO, or stuff in development. And better, you can post free stuff, little free samples or demos, that then grab traffic and direct people to the full paid version as an option. Many people will gripe at this, saying it is a paywall, but I think a small paywall is better for the players and for the game quality, than the inherently broken model of freemium nickel and diming. But if you want the full game playable without a payment, try this: Put ads on the loading screens in the free version, ads for your other products or other peoples' ads, but not the sort that aggressively and annoyingly interrupt play. (This is why a loading screen banner between each level, makes sense) and then offer a paid premium version with ads removed and some extras like the soundtrack, an artbook/making of video, etc. That way it feels more worth it. Incidentally, I'm trying this with 'Panoramic Worlds' about one year from now. There's an interesting aspect to that launch also insofar as the game is not finite, it will continue being expanded and the additions will happen faster the more often people are buying the premium version.

8) Make your game available to as wide an audience as possible, on as many platforms as possible. I love HTML5 for this reason, but it is also limiting in many ways and that's why I'm focusing on desktop systems Mac/Windows - for some graphics intensive games. But if you can make your game run in HTML5 more power to you!

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If someone could help me on this, like advice and tips, I would really appreciate it if you would spend a minute to give this some attention. I'm still a bit new and have released a game of my own recently "Dr. Fuller's Experiment". Thanks in anyone who might be able to help this fresh little guppy.

I updated my store page and wrote up a release announcement too:
https://itch.io/t/233998/star-explorers-release-announcement

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We've just launched our surreal noir Beckett on itch.io (here: https://the-secret-experiment.itch.io/beckett). It has been picked by the V&A Museum to be part of its permanent gallery opening this September in Dundee, Scotland.

Described by Rock, Paper, Shotgun as as "constantly original" and "unlike anything else", by Rolling Stone, as "total and genuine auteurism", and "a playable work of art" by Just Adventure. 

Do tell us what you make of it! It will make you question what it is to exist...

(+2)

Love hearing ya'll are open to getting new games  shown to you!

Me and Nami as Sofdelux Studio just released a new game, Disaster Log C, that we would love if you checked out!

As for advice; I would say to always leave yourself open for donations. (Assuming everything you've offered is yours!) You never know the kind of generosity and kindness fans have until you see it first hand! An optional PDF or Ending Guide for you game set at $1 or $3 can really build up after a while and help to make future games!

Yes! This advice is really great! 

I've been surprised by generous fans giving donations, even small amounts count as they add up with time!

Thanks for this advice!

We have done exactly that with our project Till Dawn, we posted on the forum and also posted the releases on our twitter account. There were lots of visitors all day, but as we decided to have a minimum price of $1.00 the visits decreased totally.  That's because we are no longer listed in the list (https://itch.io/games/free/input-htc-vive) even if we have a demo (which is always one version behind). We were very high in that list and it's very sad that we are no longer in there.

Furthermore there should be something to post to the whole itch.io community through the forum. As we understood you should only post once there for a new start and the rest should be done on the devlog.

This is interesting to me, because my experience so far has been the opposite.  My game's a twin stick shooter, and the traffic from https://itch.io/games/tag-twin-stick-shooter is 4x the traffic from https://itch.io/games/free/tag-twin-stick-shooter.  But both of those pale in comparison to the traffic that came through the frontpage and Newest.  But even when traffic peaked, literally nobody tipped.

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Nice try, but the rubber underwear is staying on.

One simple thing that helped my game Holey Suit:  announcing the release on itch.io forums ;)

I posted on the  "Game Development » Release Announcements" forum after pushing the release button.  I followed the instructions for that topic, i.e. wrote an enticing description of the game, and back this up by a selected few fun screenshots.  You can see the post there, nothing rocket science.

Indirectly, the game was spotted by Leaf (I suppose other moderators also regularly screen this topic) and got featured on the site.  This really helped with the downloads - I am forever grateful for this!  So I guess that counts as a way to reach out to the moderators at itch.io?

And yes, a good game page helps, but you needn't go crazy.  I like the minimalist look itch.io promotes, and with a few simple tweaks (CSS helps, but not mandatory) it's very achievable to have a nice looking page.  One of my favourite page is https://juegosrancheros.itch.io/fantastic-arcade-2016, and as far as I'm aware this doesn't even use CSS.  Just uses a nice colour theme & transparent banner at the top.  Sleek!

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Thanks for the advice! How should we contact you? 

I'd like to have my game considered. My friend and I released our game "Picking Flowers"- the relaxing arcade game 3 months ago, but have gotten only one person to play it outside of people I know.  I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I  posted the game to reddit on multiple places, all social media I have, tigsource, itch new releases ect. No luck.

I'd have given up and moved on to other things but my friends have persisted in telling me that this game is really good and I should keep working on getting it out there, and I know they aren't just saying that, my retention rate for people who have played the game is very high with my analytics reporting people still playing the game to this day.  

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Thanks. I'd port it to the mac but I can't afford the $100/year licensing fees apple charges. 

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oh... I actually did port it to html5 I forgot. Posting it on a html5 dev forum was how I got one stranger to play it.
I have two versions, one small sized one that resizes itself to work on cell phones with touch control and one full sized one designed for desktops.  They were both designed to test the touch screen interface but you can still use the arrow keys to play. 

Cell phone- http://jonathandaar.com/games/pickingflowers/build/HTML5Small/

PC- http://jonathandaar.com/games/pickingflowers/build/html5TOUCH/

I guess I could embed one of them into itch's html5 system. It is like Orisinal games! You are not the first person to tell me that. 

The $100 is only for IOS and Mac App Store. You don't have to pay to make a Mac build from most game engines. You might want a Mac to test with but that should be it.

yeah HOF, that's what I said.

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Admin(+4)

Sorry about that. We have to be careful about CSS access since it can be used for abuse. We're looking through the most common uses of CSS so we can bring those options to the default theme editor.

Itch.io platform is incredible place that collects a lot of incredible games and needs a lot of work to support. So, maybe original text must be paraphrased -- "not overwhelmingly customizable toolset".

Even with basic banner, background and color editing + gifs you can get branding done. There is nothing inherently wrong to email support, aren't there? If you have some serious project going on you obviously will contact support staff one way or another. Moreover. Give all the tools to user and Itch.io will lose all the layout guidelines and, with it, consistency.

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Sorry for any inconvenience caused. I didn't wanted previous reply to be rude in any manner.

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