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Remunerating itch.io per support ticket

A topic by Auburn Sounds created 14 days ago Views: 102 Replies: 7
Viewing posts 1 to 4
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Idea: I fear this won't be very popular but how about providing the option to remunerate itch.io not by sales percent, but also per support load. This would align monetary incentive on;

  • improving the experience for buyers
  • itch.io getting paid for support load

Implementation: when selling indirect, retain $X times the number of support ticket related to a developer's product. In the same way refunds are subtracted from payouts.

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[Edit: I don’t want to hide my mistakes, but I also don’t want to bore the reader. Basically: I misunderstood/misread the optional part of Auburn Sounds’ suggestion. Please feel free to skip ahead. Otherwise: Enjoy my dogs and cats speech. ;) ]

I get where you’re coming from. When I ask my crystal ball about this idea it tells me that 4 things would happen if itch did this:

  • Both developers and customers (on the behalf of developers) would complain. A lot. Because that’s not the “industry standard”.
  • Most developers would just raise their prices accordingly claiming/pointing out that this is not their fault, leading to itch.io-users complaining about the change to itch.io’s support.
  • Articles would inevitably be written about this change, leading to random people that hadn’t even heard about itch before, registering accounts here - just to complain and put as many users off of itch as they could.
  • Sooner or later, the cuts into the server budget due to the resulting losses would lead to itch closing its doors forever, forcing clueless and shattered independent developers to join Steam by the thousands and host their games there for 100 localized $ - per game.

The last point is rather speculative of course, but besides staff salaries and other costs itch has monthly hosting costs of according to the rumor mill 35,k and up - no matter how many games are actually sold. That’s a lot of money for a site that gives developers the option to determine their own cut and allow downloads for donations that might never happen. I love them for it, but their way of doing business puts a lot of trust into people on the internet being generous and supportive - the same people that are clogging support right now. On top of that a loooot of people just bought the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality (the money from which went to charity) so 814,526 users own a ton of games now, giving them less incentive to buy new ones for their library.

Again: I get where you’re coming from. But I think billing devs for having poorly educated (or poorly behaved) customers is the wrong approach to the issue. … “They should bill the customers instead!” ;D

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I get what you're saying but I never said this system should be mandatory.


> [rumors of 35k]

There is no marketplace like itch that supportive of creators, so there has to be a way that workload doesn't increase in an unsustainable way for itch.io too.

> But I think billing devs for having poorly educated (or poorly behaved) customers is the wrong approach to the issue.

I think very differently about the issue.  In my opinion it's almost never the fault of the user if software is difficult to understand / install / remove.  And almost always the fault of the software. (for reference: I'm not selling video game, so I may have nicer customers).

It's not like customers write emails out of boredom, most of the time . You can also lessen the support load by 10x with a FAQ page or easier to understand design.

So the support load amount is, in some capacity, controllable by the developer. If itch.io does support for free, then it's the responsibility of the developer to try to lessen that support load. And if they don't, get charged for it.

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My apologies: I misunderstood/misread the optional part of your suggestion. Sorry for wasting your time. :/

So just to reiterate: Your suggestion is for a developer to say “Have a cut of X% of my sales as well as (and this will be the new part) a fee for every ticket support has to answer on my behalf.” If I understood you correctly this time, it sounds like a wonderfully responsible thing to do - but I too feel like this won’t be very popular. But I’m not opposed if that’s what you’re suggesting. (Again: Sorry…)

Still there’s one thing we disagree on and that is the behavior of certain users on itch.io… I do not intend to fight you on it or anything but I feel the urge to share something with you… Within the last week alone I have seen posts and comments I would not have considered possible a mere month ago. Of course I can only estimate the number of such problem cases that support has to deal with, but I think there is a connection between cases like the ones I witnessed (partially hinted at in my previous post) and the recent (drastic) increase in time users have to wait for before their mails to support get answered. (I think it has reached 4 to 5 days now.)

Still: I wish you luck with your suggestion being implemented in some way, shape, or form. But the root issue would still be with certain developers who have no interest in accessibility; as well as certain users who have no interest in getting themselves educated. The developers who would need to opt for taking responsibility the most would still stay unaffected. A newsletter from itch to 100 of their worst offenders might have more effect that a technical approach to the problem - and wouldn’t require updates or bug fixes.

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I'm starting to think some kind of volunteering to help the itch team might be another way to do it.

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I have been doing a few things that could fit that description in the past weeks: Write reports when users were breaking the community rules, report to give moderators the heads-up when somebody needs help or accidentally posted their thread in the wrong topic… And then I found my own voice and branched out: Give new developers the heads-up when they forgot to include a screenshot or wrote a novel instead of a short pitch in their game’s release announcement, called people out when they where taking the sips, suggested to users that they could find the answer to their question by scrolling down through the comments (in less time than it would take them to write a refund request)… And the more blatantly rotten their attitude, the less I sugarcoated my response - that’s a freedom I take with this since I have no ambitions in becoming a community moderator or anything like that. Let’s just say that some people did not take that as well as others. The only thing about it that I regret would be presuming their innocence for as long as I did. I wouldn’t say they make up as much as even 5% of the itch.io user base, but they are… I struggle to put it into words, due to the language barrier, but I think “nasty” might be a fitting term to describe them. Judging from your posts, I think if you are interested in helping out you might find it rewarding work. However… My advice would be that you maybe don’t make any even vaguely critical statements if you chose to involve yourself. Or do so with another user account. If I had any works of mine published on this account I’m pretty sure they would be sitting on a 1.something rating by now… Risk your livelihood in battles that are more important than these. ;)

That being said: Dark Dimension has been a member of this community since 2014 and seem to have been avoiding the fate I just described. On the other hand they have the composure of a Tibetan monk and always offer a very tempered response, even when dealing with users who have clearly lost it.

As always: Other points of view are available.

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Hello,

The only problem I'd like to be solved is: how to avoid people waiting for weeks for a refund request. It's painful to say to an unsatisfied customer they might wait for almost a month for a refund (this has happened at one point, I'm sure it's better now).

I've been doing support almost everyday for the past five four years, and people are surprisingly nice in the music space, and it's almost never their fault. YMMV. In my short foray into the video game space, it was clear the users were a lot nastier indeed for sure. ^^

(Again: Just what I’ve experienced myself.) I know barely enough about music to claim that there are people who happen to listen to music, like music, or are into music. I think of these three groups only the last one is likely to leave more of a comment than “I like your tunes.” or know about the finer point of how the music industry works internally (like how money from songs played on the radio gets distributed). To ad a quote from Hunter S. Thompson for color commentary:

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.

Similar things are true with video games. But there is more that can go wrong when playing a game since the interaction is more complex. The game might not run well on any given system. It might have bugs or balancing issues. A player might not have liked the ending. A player might have accessibility issues due to being color blind, not having the reflexes for it, etc.

But it takes them more than 3 to 5 minutes on average to discover that they have these issues and then the sunken cost fallacy kicks in - so they either want all of their money back (because they suspect they are entitled to) or have that game fixed ASAP. And they know that complaining will (sometimes) get stuff fixed, so they become rather vocal about it - I guess.

At least that’s my attempt at explaining what’s going on there.

…Still doesn’t explain why some gamers download house.ogg onto their mp3 player and expect country.mp3 to play… ;)

P.S.: I’m also very much aware that others would probably also describe me as nasty, for pointing out when they acted stupid or broke the rules. They are not entirely wrong, but I feel like giving them an emotional jog is better for everyone than just to leave them be.