itch.io provides a flexible set of tools to run limited playtests so developers can distribute their games in progress, build a real community, and gain valuable feedback.
We've seen developers adopt an early access program as a way of collecting playtesting feedback and starting a source of revenue. There are a few problems with this approach:
For some developers, these may not be an issue, but it’s an awfully big risk to take. Launching something incomplete may jeopardize the success of the entire project.
itch.io project pages provide a wide range of access controls to give developers a staging area for their launch, and allow them to roll out their project in the way that works best for their project. You can create your own distribution model: Limited keys, closed and open playtesting environments, tiered purchases, and digital rewards are all possible.
Can I still launch an early access project on itch.io? Of course, you're free mix-and-match the tools we provide to launch your game in the way you want. This page is highlighting some of the other options we provide if you want to customize how you launch your game.
Here is a quick overview of some of the features we provide that allow you to get the most control over how you roll out your game or project.
Our Exclusive content system lets you set quantity restricted rewards for people who purchase your game. You can provide a price point, and set the maximum quantity. You can create multiple tiers if you have different things to offer.
Our Access Control settings allow you to fine-tune who can access your project’s page and sub-pages. The spectrum ranges from fully restricted to a list of people you specify use, to a password protected page, a secret URL, or completely open.
Limited keys will let you give access to just your most interested fans, the people who will most likely be giving you the best feedback.
You can even apply the same access control to your community: only people you've invited or people who have bought your game can have access.
itch.io hosts all the files for your game. It’s not necessary to use third-party file hosts to share access to private builds. We've custom built an entirely new distribution platform with binary patching, it’s called wharf.
For developers: you can update your game frequently, and only upload what’s changed. We've provided command lines tools that are simple to integrate into your workflow. You shouldn’t be penalized to send a new build to your testers just because your game is big. Our tools support resumable uploads for when you're deploying without reliable internet.
For game players: you'll be able to utilize the patching system to have the most up to date version without having to re-download every time. Users of our app will get automatic updates.
Having an efficient way to distribute builds is crucial: if your players have to download a large build every time they're likely to lose interest. Additionally, you'll be hesitant to push frequently, hurting your ability to iterate on new ideas.
With butler, our command line tool, these problems no longer exist.
Give your early supporters access to something special with our tiered purchase and reward system. Any files you upload can be configured to unlock at specific price points. If you have digital rewards then you can start selling them as part of your gradual release.
Our exclusive content system lets you offer limited quantity rewards, whether it’s a digital appearance in your game or physical merchandise, we've got you covered.
A healthy developer-player relationship is critical for refining a game for its launch. Being able to effectively collect feedback, while also engaging with your audience, will give you a huge advantage.
itch.io’s community tools give you a way to quickly attach a discussion to any project page. The community tools are fully featured: you can moderate posts, elect moderators, handle bans & blocks, report posts, subscribe to topics, etc.