How to Sell a Video Game You Made Yourself

Making a video game yourself is hard, but publishing and distributing it can be an even bigger hurdle, especially if you’re selling the game for the first time. Fortunately, I have some experience here and can offer my ideas and advice.

While I’m not exactly a successful indie developer, I’ve designed and self-published my own tabletop card game, created and distributed mods via the Steam Workshop, and plan to self-publish my first indie PC game in the coming months. . I also make a living writing about games, and I personally know many other independent game makers, so I’ve spent a lot of time researching and discussing self-published video games.

It takes a lot to sell a game successfully, including marketing, social media, and building a community, but before you worry about that, there’s a big question to answer: where do you sell your games?

There are many places to sell your games online, but the best choice for small and independent developers is Itch.io.

Selling games on Itch.io

Itch.io is an independent game marketplace that hosts thousands of video games, board games, tabletop RPGs, and even resources like images, music, sound effects, and more that you can use to create your own games. It’s also extremely user friendly and much easier to work with than most other publishers.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of Itch.io:

  • Itch.io has no application fees, content reviews, or waiting periods to deal with before you can download and sell your game.
  • Itch.io has no DRM requirements for your projects and no exclusivity clause, which means you can also sell your games elsewhere.
  • Itch.io supports Windows, Mac, and Linux games on the service. You can also embed browser games built with Unity, Flash, Java and HTML5 directly into your store pages.

But perhaps the biggest difference between Itch.io and the competition is that the site doesn’t require strict revenue sharing. Instead, Itch.io is working on “open revenue sharing,” where creators decide how much revenue (if any) to share with Itch.io. You also don’t have to meet a certain income threshold to receive payouts. This means that if you just want to sell a tiny $1 game, you can save every penny of every sale the moment someone pays you.

Heck, if all you want is a free place to upload your project and you’re not worried about marketing and revenue sharing, Itch.io is still a great place to upload your game.

So, it’s clear that Itch.io is a creator-focused platform, but you’re probably wondering “what’s the catch?” Well, to be honest, there aren’t many. The only major limitations to watch out for are:

  • Projects can only contain 10 uncompressed files.
  • For some projects, there is a limit on the number of files (although Itch.io allows you to request an increase).
  • You can only upload 20 projects per account.
  • Shop pages have limited layout options.

It’s also worth noting that Itch.io’s reach and audience isn’t as big as, say, Steam. However, Itch.io is a fairly popular place to sell indie games, and customers can buy and download there without creating an account, so the entry barrier is low.

The last semi-restriction concerns adult content. While Itch.io allows you to upload adult and sexual content (as long as it’s not illegal), Itch.io’s payment partners PayPal and Stripe impose restrictions and can not be used to pay for certain content.

Other publishing options

If itch.io’s restrictions don’t work for you, there are several other places where you can sell your game. However, unlike Itch.io, most of them will introduce stricter revenue sharing, application fees, and/or application processes.

Steam is probably the easiest of the “main” platforms to submit and sell your games (other than Itch.io).

Although Steam reviews every published game, its content (and quality) policy is not as strict as other platforms like GOG or Epic, and the review period is only 1-5 days. However, creators must pay a $100 non-refundable fee for each game they submit and must wait 30 days after a game is approved before selling it. On the positive side, you have time to build interest in your game and get fans to add it to their wishlists.

Steam’s payout and revenue sharing policy is less favorable to midget game makers. Steam receives 30% of all sales and you can only receive payouts once your game has made $1,000. However, you are free to sell your games elsewhere even after publishing on Steam.

Other major third-party distributors of digital PC games are GOG and the Epic Games Store .

Like Steam, these platforms require sellers to submit their games for approval, but their criteria for actually listing them for sale are much stricter. On the one hand, this means that both platforms offer better curation and potentially better visibility for the games they publish; conversely, it also means that you probably won’t be able to sell your first games on any of the platforms.

However, I still recommend that you review the publishing requirements for both platforms and apply. The Epic Games Store and GOG have different revenue distributions, payout options, DRM restrictions and exclusivity policies that some creators may actually prefer on Steam or even Itch.io, so it’s worth giving it a try if you’re digging into what they offer. Even if you get rejected, there are other places where you can sell your games.

What about consoles and mobile devices?

For many indie developers, nothing is cooler than seeing your homemade video game on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, or Xbox Series X. For others, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets makes iOS and Android attractive options.

However, even if you’ve specifically built a game for these platforms on the engine they support, with the right controls and interface requirements, there are still a few hurdles to overcome. First, you must apply to each company’s respective independent affiliate programs and submit your games for approval, and then work with their teams to upload and publish the games.

It’s a lot of work, and probably more of a hassle than solo creators have to deal with selling their first projects, but again, if you want to give it a try, try Nintendo , PlayStation , Xbox , Google , and/or Apple. recommendations and apply.

What’s next?

No matter where you sell your game, the next step is to get people to buy, download and play it. Here are some tips:

  • Post on social media: Post as early and often as possible, but not too early. Posting development updates on YouTube, Twitter, and Reddit is a great start, but only post them when you have something to show. And even if your game is over, you must continue to let people know that it’s ready and available.
  • Create a trailer: Spend some time creating and compiling concept art, screenshots, GIFs, game clips, and trailers and post them to any and all social media accounts, along with links to your game’s store page. You should also use this content to spice up your game’s store page and make it more attractive. This video from the Game Dev Unlocked YouTube channel has great tips on how to make compelling trailers and screenshots.
  • Build a Community: Join Discord servers and independent developer subreddits, follow and participate in other creators on social media and YouTube. Usually these people return the favor and also check your games.
  • Think sales and community packs: Participating in sales events can make your project more visible on Itch.io, Steam, or wherever you sell your game. The Itch.io Community Charity Packages are also very helpful in getting your game out to potential players. While you won’t be paid to include your game in these packs, you may find players who might not have seen your project otherwise, and if they like it, they may be able to help raise awareness through word of mouth.

There is much more you can do to spread the word, but these steps will get you on the right track. Marketing your game will require a lot of work, but if you’re passionate about getting people to click on your game, the effort is well worth it.

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