Making a game is a challenge. Juggling a plethora of systems, art, storytelling, gameplay sensations, and performance is no small feat, and when a game ends its development cycle, it almost feels like a miracle. However, many games are forgotten either because they are difficult to discover or because they completely missed the marketing.
Publishing and distributing a game can be a real challenge, but luckily there are a variety of platforms out there that want to release your game for you. Since this desire is often in their best interest as they get a share of your profits, but choosing the right platform (s) can be the difference between your title becoming a standalone gem or being lost in the pile.
Let’s go over some of the key places to publish your game.
This platform absolutely does not need to be presented. Steam is the largest gaming platform on PC, so it’s likely that you not only have a Steam account, but use it regularly.
Due to its popularity, Steam will likely be the first port of call for your indie game given that you get the most exposure on the platform. However, with popularity comes competition, which means your game will have to stand out from the crowd to be successful.
To publish your game, you will need to go through Steam Direct, which has a submission fee of 100 USD (421.65 RM) by title. Fortunately, that 100 USD is recoverable after processing your product USD1000 (RM4,216.50). Something that seems like a good precaution to keep Steam from becoming a dumping ground for half-baked projects.
Additionally, you can expect Steam to cut your profits by 30%, which is widely considered an industry standard price.
Another of the most popular game stores popularized due to its exclusive titles and frequent giveaways, Epic Games has accumulated more and more users over the past few years.
Developers can request to have their games published on the Epic Games Store, which allows them to make an incredibly attractive 12% of the profit.
The online home of game jams and indie developers, Itch.io is a platform known for its passionate projects, single-player developers, and the truly independent side of the indie game market. As such, Itch.io offers the enticing ability to download any game that’s completely free while still being able to choose and adjust your prices on the fly.
Itch.io also allows for flexible pricing models, where individuals can pay an amount of their choice for any game, making it particularly useful for projects that may not justify a full price.
Considering how easy it is to download, Itch is also great for current projects, letting you keep fans up to date with the latest releases.
Itch takes a respectable 10% by default, but that percentage can be adjusted by the developers themselves up or down with the minimum being a nice epic 0%.
Yes, you read that right. Nothing.
Game Jolt, just like Itch.io, is home to true indie games. Likewise, the download is free and you can easily set your price.
Game Jolt’s revenue model is slightly more complex; with them taking 10% (or less) while you also receive 30% of the ad revenue generated by your game page.
Well established, Good Old Games is moving away from Epic Games and Steams’ models of keeping everything on the platform and choosing to sell games without DRM. In other words, gamers have full access to game files, just like buying a good old CD-ROM.
There are no submission fees to GOG, but they, like Steam and Epic Games, can be quite selective about which games to download. Be sure to do your research to make sure your game has the best chance of being selected.
GOG takes 30% by default, but there is an option to advance your royalties, which can really help you in terms of funds if you are still in development. Taking that, your income split changes to 60/40 when exiting.
Console specific stores
Among the most difficult to produce and the strictest to select, console-specific stores are usually the finish line for an indie game. That said, depending on your idea, control scheme, and target audience, your game might just be better suited for a console specific store.
These stores will most often take 30% while having incredibly tight submission and selection criteria. As such, it is essential that you do good research to ensure that your game has a good chance of ending up on the console of your choice.
App stores (Google Play, Apple, Amazon)
While old school gamers may try to deny it, mobile gaming is huge. This means that many developers may want to develop directly for mobile or port their games to mobile devices.
For this you will need to make sure that your app is of course playable on your target device. Then you will need to open an account on the App Store of your choice.
Google charges a one-time fee of 25 USD (105.41 RM) to open an account, then split the income 70/30.
Apple App Store initial installation costs 100 USD (421.65 RM), followed by a 70/30 split for single payment applications and 85/15 for subscription applications.
The Amazon Appstore is free to submit and publish, with the revenue split being 70/30. That said, Amazon’s Appstore remains the smallest of these three markets.
If you’re producing for VR, you have three key markets: Steam, the Oculus Store, and Viveport.
Thanks to the popularity of the Oculus Quest 2, the Oculus Store is where an incredibly large proportion of VR game purchases are made, making it a must-have for those looking to distribute their indie games.
Uploading to Oculus may encounter some resistance as key criteria must be met. But once your app is downloaded, they will take a 30% discount.
There are many ways to distribute your indie game, but knowing which ones to choose can help inform your game’s design and compatibility. So knowing early will make a huge difference.
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