Other kinds of stuff I would want: if someone marks their game a fully released, they are required to set a minimum price for it.
It would establish a professional culture that helps designers, consumers, and the longevity of this site. Let me break down how.
1) I know many designers who prefer itch.io but make more money at DTRPG.
There are multiple reasons, but a culture of paying for games is part of it. Here are some numbers:
- DTRPG game numbers:
- PWYW: 5,876
- Free: 1,675
- Paid: 71,240.
- Itch.io game numbers:
- PWYW/Free: 1,238
- Paid: 289
At DTRPG, no-cost games make up 9% of the total market, vs. this site where they make up 81% of the market. At this site, asking for a set cost creates a barrier for consumers to choose it, whereas it's the norm at DTRPG.
On the consumer side, many people have told me they take the free option to treat it as a "preview" with the intention to spend money if they like the game...but then forget to go back. Or think about going back, but that takes extra time/work, so they put it off.
2) Consumers would benefit from a clearer distinction between games as indicated by prices.
I've talked to multiple consumers who feel pressured by PWYW because they don't know how much a game is worth, feel like designers should know and set a specific price, and deal with this uncertainty often by paying nothing. Additionally, there is a huge range in quality and complexity of games from "quick game jam idea I want to release but not refine" to "game in development for years with hours of playtesting and professional editing." The current "everything is free" pricing culture doesn't help separate these games.
Requiring a minimum price for games in the released category requires designers to think, "Is this worth asking for money at this stage, or should I set it as still in development".
Requiring everyone to set a price would also encourage designers to have to think more about, "What is my game worth and how do I set that price point?"
2a) Requiring a price would still allow for a wide range in prices.
I think about Kindle books at Amazon. If I buy at $1.99 I assume it will be pretty amateur and don't get upset when that' the case. If I buy a $9.99 book, I assume it will be professional/publication level quality. There's room for all levels of games too...but right now pricing here is "free/PWYW" or "paid, hurt your numbers, also probably pretty low since that's what most people do because you already stand out for not going PWYW."
3) For the site's longevity, I assume more money would help y'all.
If you required released games to cost something, you will make more money by shifting the culture and being attractive to people who feel stuck on DTRPG.
If itch.io really wanted to help designers and consumers, you could establish "suggested price" guidelines, e.g. "Full rulebook, $20-30; Supplements or Short Games $10-20; Micro-projects (e.g. <10 pages, not a full game): $5-10"
All of the above would assume we can still set our games as "in development" or something similar, which would not require a minimum price.