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Using refinery

itch.io refinery is a customizable toolset made for developers to distribute their games in progress, build a real community and gain useful feedback. For more information you can visit our overview page. We launched refinery May 13th, 2016.

Refinery logo

Why refinery?

Too often 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:

  • Your game is publicly available — You've launched something you know isn’t perfect, and not everyone who plays it will be understanding. You may be swamped with negative feedback and bad reviews that may damage the future success of the game.
  • You've officially launched your game — The day you launch your game is one of the most important days in your game’s lifespan: it’s typically when you'll have the most people watching, talking, and buying. Very rarely do we see games leaving early access getting attention comparable to their initial launch.

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.

You're proud of what you built, so you owe it to yourself to launch with something polished in order to optimize the happiness of your players and the amount of copies you can sell.

refinery is for polishing games. We've built refinery to give developers a staging area for their launch. refinery enables you to create your own distribution model: Limited keys, closed and open playtesting environments, tiered purchases and digital rewards are all possible. In this guide we'll cover how itch.io makes all of these available

Pricing

refinery is completely free. itch.io pioneered Open Revenue Sharing: a marketplace revenue sharing system that content creators completely control. As a developer, you set itch.io marketplace cut for all of your transactions.

Learn more about Open Revenue Sharing

The toolset

Limited keys

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.

Learn about exclusive content

Closed playtesting

For refinery we've completely re-worked how you can grant access to your project 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.

Learn about access control

Binary patching and game distribution

itch.io hosts all the files for your games. It’s no longer necessary to share links to Dropbox to distribute a build. For refinery we've 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.

Tiered purchases

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 refinery 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.

Learn more about pricing your content

Communities

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.

Learn more about interacting with your fans

Join us in making refinery everything you need

These initial set of tools are far from what we envision refinery being in the future. We know that developers have all kinds of ideas about how they want to distribute their game. We're up for the challenge.

Join the refinery community