A download key is a special URL that gives someone access to a project’s files.
There are a few ways a download key can come into existence:
When someone downloads a free project a download key is not created. Someone will not own a game just by downloading it for free
We've described in detail what happens when someone pays for your project in the How buying works guide. One important thing to note: If someone pays for a project that is free (minimum price of 0), they will still get a download key. If you decide to add a price in the future they will still have access.
A download key’s URL is unique and should not be shared. If a download key is linked to an account then it can only be viewed by the owner when they are logged into their account.
The purpose of a download key is to give download access to the files you've uploaded to your project. By default, any file you've uploaded will be available for download. If you change the minimum price of your project then key holders will still have access to their files.
There’s one exception to this rule though: any files that are individually priced.
There are two ways to set a price on your downloadable files: You can set a minimum price on your entire project, or you can individually set a price on files of your choosing.
All download keys have an associated price. It’s used to unlock any individually priced files. This price is set when someone buys your project, or if you manually set it when generating a download key.
From the Distribute tab of your project’s edit page you can find the Download keys section. There are two ways to generate keys: singular or in bulk.
If you'r looking to give out access to your game to a friend, or press, we recommend generating a single key. If you need to generate many keys, like for a promotion on another site, then we recommend the bulk generator.
Individually generated keys give you finer control over the key: you can set a label for easy identification, track how often it’s been used to download, and revoke it if necessary.
Keys created in bulk have two additional options:
If your project is being sold on other marketplaces such as Steam, you can give away keys with each itch.io purchase.
To do so, simply paste keys in the External keys tab and submit them.
It’s good to triple-check before submitting external keys. If you've made any mistakes you'll need to contact us.
Make sure there is always enough available keys for buyers. If someone who purchased your project tries to get their external key and there’s none left in stock, they will be told to try again later.
Read How buying works to see how buyers can redeem external keys.