Game development is a competitive business, and in order to succeed, you must show your work. There are many platforms on the internet where you can publish your games, some of them have significant traffic which can put your game in front of many people. In this article, we will go over the 5 best websites to publish games.
Each platform has its own pricing models, tools to manage downloads and updates of your game, and other cool features you can use as a developer. But before we go over the available platforms, let’s familiarize ourselves with the most popular pricing models.
Free: The game can be downloaded for free for anyone, no strings attached.
Play what you want/Name your price: Users can download your game and have the option to support your game by paying a price they think your game is worth.
Fixed price/Minimum price: Game can be downloaded only after payment of the mentioned price. Some platforms allow users to pay more than the requested amount to support the game developer.
For more information about how indie game developers make money, go to my Proven Strategies to Make Money as an Indie Game Developer article. Now that you are familiar with the pricing models, let’s dive into the best websites to publish your games.
Steam is a video game platform created and owned by Valve Corporation. It is the most popular platform for PC gaming and offers a wide range of games, from small indie games to large triple-A titles. The platform offers a large set of tools for game developers to distribute, market, and sell their video games. The website gets over 200 million visits per month.
The cost of publishing on Steam is $100 per game. However, these funds will be returned to you if your game makes over $1000 in revenue from sales on the store. In addition to the initial cost, Steam will also take a flat 30% cut of the revenue from the sales, which leaves you with 70%. This is a standard commission in the high-quality games industry. You can read more at https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/gettingstarted/appfee.
Steam has only one method of paying you when your game makes money, which is EFT (direct deposit to your bank account). Please note that EFT may not be available in all countries. Please read more at https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/finance/payments_salesreporting/faq.
Steam has a process of curation to ensure the quality of the games on the platform. They will also verify that your game complies with the Steam Terms of Service. Once your game is accepted, you can be sure it will be presented in the best light possible.
Steam works on most platforms, provided the game supports the controller you are using. This includes Windows, Linux, and Mac. Games may also support controllers for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, and more.
Library of user-generated game assets. You can download the game assets from the workshop and use them in your game. Please note that while some creators may choose to release their assets under an open-source license, which would allow anyone to use them for free in their games, others may choose to release their assets under a more restrictive license that only allows use in certain circumstances or requires attribution or payment. You can check out other people’s work at https://steamcommunity.com/workshop.
Steam offers a variety of community features that allow players to interact with each other and with the developers. This includes forums, user reviews, and Steam Workshop. This is a great place to learn from other’s experiences and teach others from yours.
Sales and Analytics
Steam provides sales and analytics data to developers, which can help them understand how their games are performing and make informed decisions about development, pricing, and marketing.
An extensive interface for developers to integrate Steam features into their games. Here is the documentation: https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/api.
2. Epic Games Store
The Epic Games Store is a relatively new platform that has been growing in popularity in recent years. One of the major reasons for its success is the more generous revenue split it offers to developers, taking only 12% of revenue from sales on its platform, as opposed to Steam’s 30%.
The Epic Games Store offers a range of features comparable to those available on Steam, such as game distribution, a game launcher, and library management.
You can publish your games on the Epic Games Store at no cost, as the platform does not require any fees for game submissions. This means that you can release your games on the platform without incurring any initial or ongoing charges. However, Epic Games will take a 12% cut from the revenue your game generates, which means you will get 88% from the price of the game. The 12% commission is much lower than the industry standard. I encourage you to read more here.
The Epic Store uses Hyperwallet as a payment processor, which means you can receive the money your game makes to your Hyperwallet account and from there transfer it in any way you like to other accounts. Please read this post.
Epic Games check new games to make sure they are high quality and follow Epic Games Store’s terms of service. As part of the process, the team evaluates the game based on several factors such as gameplay, graphics, sound, and overall quality. The main goal of the process is to showcase high-quality games and provide a great experience for players, so if your game is selected to be featured in the store, you can be sure your game will be presented in a positive light.
I recommend reviewing their guidelines and requirements before submitting a game to the platform, to ensure that your game meets all necessary standards and criteria. You can read more here: https://dev.epicgames.com/docs/epic-games-store/requirements-guidelines/content-ratings/content-guidelines.
Community & Unreal Engine
The company developed its famous Unreal Game Engine and boasts a large community around Unreal Game Engine, which will help you in your development journey if you decide to use Unreal Engine for your games. There is also great documentation and tutorials for the engine. Check out Unreal Game Engine here: https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US.
Epic Games Store accounts have an optional Two-Factor Authentication system that increases the security of your account. You can choose authentication by phone app, email, or SMS. It is very easy to set up, just go to the “Password & Security” section in your account settings and select your required options.
A nice way to earn extra cash for influencers that have a following in one or more of the major social platforms. Content creators can register onto this program and start promoting the games on the Epic Games Store, including your game, and the company will pay them a modest commission for doing so.
itch.io is a website and marketplace for indie games and interactive media. It is a platform that allows independent game developers and creators to upload, sell, and distribute their games and interactive media files.
The website is very popular among indie game developers and provides a platform for developers to showcase their work, connect with other developers, and engage with players. The platform is known for its ease of use and low barrier to entry, making it a great choice for indie game developers of all skill levels. It offers developers the most common revenue models, including free to play, pay-what-you-want, or a set (minimum) price. The website has more than 30 million monthly visits.
It is free to upload games to itch.io. The platform uses a model called “Revenue Sharing” which lets you decide the commission percentage you give back to itch.io to maintain the platform. This means that the platform will take a certain percentage of the revenue generated from your game sales. The default is 10%, but you can adjust the percentage to any number you like.
There are 2 payout methods for game developers: PayPal and Stripe. They are both international payment processors, so you can earn money no matter where your bank is. Note: the default payout mode is “Direct to you,” which means you will receive the payouts as soon as a game purchase is made, which you may pay transfer fees for. You can change the payout mode in the profile settings.
Game creation competitions where users can play and give feedback about your game. This is a great way to promote yourself and your work. You can also host a jam yourself and provide the rules and timeline for your competition.
The platform has a large forum, allowing developers to interact with and build communities around their games. People on the platform vary by skills and progress in their journey, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn.
Built-in development log page where developers can share their progress, thoughts, plans, and game updates. If you are comfortable with writing and sharing your game dev progress, this is a great place to do it!
The platform provides a communication interface with their servers to allow developers to access the internal website’s data, such as retrieving information about your games and purchase statistics. It also allows you to embed “Buy Game” buttons on your own website so you can find additional potential buyers to purchase your games, without going directly to itch.io. If you are interested in more information, you can read the documentation at https://itch.io/docs/api/overview.
As a seller, you can create game bundles to incentivize customers to purchase your games. In addition, you can collaborate with other developers on the platform and create game bundles with their games, and share the revenue.
If you are looking to expand your team, the platform allows you to post jobs on the website and hire developers. The job must be a paid job, and in order to post, you must purchase a “slot” from itch.io.
There is no perfect game in its first version, so you will have to update your game at some point. Itch.io gives you 2 options to do that. The easy way is to download “Butler,” which is a command-line tool to replace the files of your game directly from your computer. The second option is to manually go to the website and replace the game files. Keep in mind, if you are changing the file names, you might lose your game statistics.
GameJolt is similar to itch.io with an emphasis on community. The website is known for its community-driven approach, allowing developers to build a fanbase, get feedback, and connect with other developers.
The website is structured with a feed section that shows you the latest news about games in your favorite categories and posts from members. Additionally, it has some features that can help you in promoting your game. Similar to Itch.io, it offers developers the most common revenue models, including free to play, name-your-price, or a set (minimum) price. GameJolt has more than 5 million monthly visits.
Publishing your games on the platform is free. They also use the same revenue model as itch.io, where you can decide the percentage of the revenue you give back to GameJolt to maintain and develop the platform. The only difference is that while itch.io lets you give away 100% of your entire revenue, GameJolt caps you at 10%. You can read more at https://gamejolt.com/marketplace.
There is only one payout method available, which is PayPal. You should read the Developer Distribution Agreement, found in your user profile, to get the full picture.
The platform allows users to create their own communities around different topics. Within a community, you can create different channels where members can discuss various subjects. Another cool feature is that you can link your game to a community. Linking a game allows all members to see the linked game in the community pages, and shows the community on the game’s page. This really helps boost the exposure of your game to the audience.
GameJolt has a program where social media influencers can become partners and promote your games on their channels. Keep in mind, partners are allowed to download your game for free and receive 10% of the revenue. All you have to do is to allow your game to participate in the “Partners” program when uploading your game to the platform, and influencers may pick up your game and promote it on their social media channels.
GameJolt’s APIs let you store and retrieve data from the servers, change score tables, access user’s profile and friends, manage trophies, manage sessions of your game, and even batch multiple requests into a single command to increase performance in case you are using these APIs frequently.
These are rooms where you can livestream and chat on private conversations with your friends, followers, and communities.
GameJolt is “Gamifying” the website by giving you daily quests and filling your “Charge Orbs.” Once all your orbs are full, you can support your favorite creators on the platform by giving them “Charged Stickers.” These stickers are translated to money deposited in their accounts.
GameJolt allows you to create a custom website, which will feature your games. The website can be created from a pre-built template they provide, or you can upload you own website and even customize the domain. Creating an external website will help boost the exposure of your games to people other than the regular GameJolt croud.
Updating your game is fairly straightforward. You upload a new release version to the website, and users will immediately be able to see and download the latest release of your game.
Newgrounds is a website and online community that has been around since the early days of online gaming. It’s a platform that allows users to upload, share, and view a wide variety of content, including games, movies, art, music, and more. The website is particularly known for its Flash-based games and animations.
Newgrounds has a strong emphasis on creative expression and experimentation, which makes it a popular choice for indie game developers and animators. The website features a wide variety of games and animations from different genres and styles, and it also has a built-in rating and review system, which allows users to rate and comment on the content they have uploaded. The drawback of this website is that it does not allow you to set a price for your content; you can only get exposure and monetize indirectly. The website gets more than 5 million monthly visits.
You can publish your games and content for free. The games you publish are not sold for a price, they can be played for free. The main option to make money is through the “Revenue Sharing” program the website offers.
Monetize your content through the website’s partnership program, which allows you to earn money from ads. Your game page will have ads displaying on it,so the revenue will be proportional to the amount of visits you get on your pages. The minimum payout is $100. Read more here: https://www.newgrounds.com/wiki/creator-resources/monetization.
There are 2 payout methods available: PayPal and checks. If you don’t set up a PayPal account, you will be receiving checks in the mail.
Newgrounds has a Two-Factor Authentication system to boost the security of your account. All you have to do is install an authenticator app on your phone and use it each time you want to log in to the website. You can activate 2FA in your profile’s settings. This is a great security measure that all large websites use nowadays.
Newgrounds hosts many types of content, not just video games. Users on Newgrounds can upload movies, games, audio, and art. The content is diverse and the art is high-quality.
The platform has a large community discussing a wide range of topics, such as animation, art, audio, voice acting, writing, collaboration on projects, game development, and even politics!
You can offer yourself as a candidate for jobs posted on the website or post jobs yourself. Keep in mind that in order to apply for a job on the platform, you must be a supporter and have your own original work uploaded to the website. If you want to post a job, you must be a supporter. Alternatively, you can ask to collaborate with others on their projects. In any case, you will have to pay a small monthly fee to become a supporter of Newgrounds. Check out the “Help Wanted” section at https://www.newgrounds.com/community.
Live chat where you can enjoy a private conversation with other users. In addition, there is a live radio available while you are on the website.
As you can see, there are many options to choose from when looking for a good website to publish games. Each website has its benefits and drawbacks. Choose the one that fits you best. If you want to learn more about game development and marketing, go to my blog at Night Quest Games Blog. My friend, I wish you success in your journey. Good luck!
Image by johnstocker on Freepik