I see a lot of devs using a mix of these techniques to distribute early builds of their games/tools:
- .zip or installer in a Dropbox shared folder
- file attachments on a forum or e-mail thread
- own web server
Instead, here's what you get on itch.io for zero upfront cost:
Testers can install & play the latest version with only two clicks
...on Windows, Mac, & Linux (deb/rpm+AUR)
- Try it, your game may already be compatible: http://itch.io/app
- Game updates are automatically applied on startup
- Yes, you can run closed betas on itch.io — keep reading!
A lean web interface to manage game page & uploads
We're working on a command-line uploader so that you can push incremental updates directly from your build machines
Detailed game analytics
(views, downloads, purchases, referrers)
- Inform your press strategy decisions by knowing who picked up a copy of your game
- Revoke download keys if they're being abused
Optionally: add a Google Analytics key to your profile or page for extra detail
Have your own forums
...for early testers to discuss the game
- example: http://itch.io/engine/superpowers/community
- or just a comments section if you don't need the full thing
- you're reading this on an itch.io community right now!
Closed betas are welcome
We of all people understand the need for controlled experiments :)
- set your page to "Public restricted"
- generate download keys, individually (easier to track) or in bulk (easier to mass send)
Start accepting payments anytime
- ...bring your Paypal & Stripe accounts, or use our payout system for easier accounting
- Here's how it looks: http://itch.io/docs/creators/how-buying-works
- Run your own sales & bundles: http://itch.io/docs/creators/sales
- Distribute external keys if you wish: http://itch.io/docs/creators/download-keys#externa...
- Embed a buy form on your website: http://itch.io/docs/creators/widget
Customize the appearance of your game page
- Adjust colors/images/layout with our theme editor
- Here's a bunch of good examples: http://itch.io/c/1536/cool-game-pages
- We can enable CSS for you or lift your upload limit if you get in touch with support
itch.io has the reputation of being a fair & open, and we plan on keeping it that way.
- No gate-keeping, no upfront fees, complete control (100% DIY)
- Get a (good) publisher if you want to offload some of that responsibility!
- We pioneered open revenue sharing
- Both our desktop app and its command-line companion are open-source, for you to audit & contribute to.
- Bugs and features for both the website and itch app are discussed publicly.
- We have no external investors to answer to.
- The community has been very generous with us too!
TL;DR creators are our clients, we make tools for them to cater to their own clients.
If you have specific questions, feel free to shoot us an e-mail at support - anyone answering tickets there is a core team member.