Q: Why is web upload limited to 500MB (or 2GB on demand) whereas butler will let you upload a 32GB game?
There's a technical side to it: our web uploader will only accept files as large as 2GB (which is what we can lift your upload limit to) — whereas butler is a more advanced uploader and has no such technical limits.
The other reason is simply that downloading large games from a browser isn't the best user experience — especially updating them. When you upload with butler, there's a bunch of things happening on our servers:
- First of all, it compresses while uploading, which means you have less to upload
- Second, it computes the difference since the last build, and uploads only that — which again, means you have less to upload
- The differences you uploaded (the patch) is then processed so it gets even smaller for folks using itch.io/app to update
- It's also used to make a new .zip archive of the latest version, to support players who still want to use only the website
- And finally it's also chopped up into blocks, which in a future version of the app will allow players to repair their game installation if it was corrupted, and make the install process for large games smoother & faster
We're also planning on adding a graphical drag & drop interface to the itch.io app, which uses butler underneath — that way, it won't be any harder to upload with butler than it is via the website, and you'll keep all the benefits! The reason it hasn't been done yet is because we were testing butler, and restricting it to command-line users was a good way to control the amount of feedback we got about it.
Q: Aren't itch.io downloads slow? Especially for non-US players?
This was true of free downloads for a while — but as of November, we're using a full-featured CDN, which means users all around the globe are getting good download speeds (whether they paid for the game or not).
Currently, itch.io downloads are definitely faster and more reliable than providing your own server (no matter how beefy it is), since the CDN has caching and presence points in various continents! It is also faster than using Google Cloud Storage or Amazon S3 (which powers Github releases), since they're storage services, not optimized for delivery.