I’m a huge fan of video games. I think they can be fun, inspiring, cathartic, and generally a positive art form. I truly believe they are, in fact, an art form, and should be for everyone. This mindset is constantly evolving, but is unfortunately not ubiquitous, which is exemplified by the somewhat stagnant landscape of games. It’s been discussed at length how so many games are just straight, white dudes getting revenge, or similar ideas. This may put a lot of gamers off, or even prevent new players from getting into the medium at all. This week’s web crush, itch.io, helps mitigate this situation.
Itch.io (type this into your browser’s address bar) is a hub for indie products dubbed as “a simple way to find and share indie games online for free”, which is exactly what it sounds like. There are many games available, along with a featured list highlighting various themes of games. These games span multiple genres, from action or platforming, to story based and visual novels, and more. Furthermore, there are many filters available to sort games to your preferred choices; there are countless tags and subcategories that makes even searching the site fun in and of itself. It’s often difficult to find games outside of what the mainstream, and higher exposed indies advertise. So, a better curation and discovery method is nice to have.
That said, the site is terrific for finding new, interesting games outside of what you may be originally looking for. Many of the available games may be early work for a developer, or more experimental work that couldn’t find a home elsewhere. Similarly, there are demos and betas in the mix. This opens up the range of experiences a user can have. Some of the more experimental games might not be able to find funding to get made, or would get overlooked in a more mainstream setting and be unable to earn profits. These circumstances can stifle creativity for sure and ultimately would leave players missing out.
Just as there are ways to filter the types of games, various gaming platforms, such as PC android, etc. there are price filters, making acquiring games something everyone can do. Gaming tends to be an expensive hobby in regards to console or high-end PC territory. Cheaper games can help reduce the cost to entry. There are both free games, and paid games of many price ranges. What’s more, you are able to pay more for the games if you like if you want to provide additional support to the developer, which leads me to the next positive point about the site.
itch.io provides a strong opportunity for up and coming developers. It is free for devs to put their games on the site, which can be incredibly important for those with little to no budget. When their game is bought, they earn a decent share of the profit, only paying a modest fee to the site and the payment site (such as PayPal). These aspects help make itch.io easier to work with than other platforms such as Steam.
Lastly, the site is elegantly built. When you first visit it, you are greeted with an array of different colors and art styles of the featured games. While this is certainly pleasing to the eye, it primarily highlights the diverse range of games available which, again, is very refreshing in the current climate of games.
Overall, itch.io provides a service and experience that feels new and fresh, and offers great content to its users, both on the front end and the back end. If you’re looking to find something inventive, or just want to venture off the beaten path a bit, I highly recommend you visit itch.io either on their site, Twitter @itchio, or Facebook.