It goes without saying that you should always publish and share your PICO-8 games here on the the official site. Not only will you get great feedback, your game will appear in the Splore menu of PICO-8. So it's a no-brainer for any game you make.
But where else should you publish?
When I made my first PICO-8 games, I wasn't sure where to put my games. I saw a few others use Itch.io so I did the same...and that's where my game publishing journey started.
- Nice site that's easy to use for everyone
- Customizable game pages
- Web player and binary download options
- Good analytics
- Donation options
- Limited exposure and findability
- Lots of competition, focus on download games
Itch.io is a great platform on which to publish games (PICO-8 or otherwise). The site is nicely designed so it's easy for visitors to come and play. They also let you customize your game page so it's easy to add your own graphics and styles to help promote your game. I create a rather generic template for my games but also made a "fancy" one to promote Alien Harvest...check it out.
Itch.io also offers decent analytics and tracking for your games. You can easily see views, downloads and other stats.
One nice feature is that the site allows you to offer the web player version of your PICO-8 game but you can also put up other files for download (for free or purchase). So you can also add your binary game exports to your page. The site is setup to be a one-stop for game publishing.
You can also setup a pay-what-you-want style action for your games. So while you might not be able to charge out-right for your game, you can ask for a "donation" and maybe get some beer money...bonus!
If there's anywhere Itch.io seems to lack behind some of the others is in exposure and discoverability. Itch.io is host to thousands upon thousands of games, so you're a small fish in a very big sea. Sure, you should promote your game through every channel you care and drive them to Itch.io but I wouldn't rely on Itch.io to give you the exposure you hoping for. When I released a new game, stats were high for about 48-hours and then died drastically. Feedback and comments from players also seems to be sparse.
- Good exposure without much effort, player feedback
- Basic analytics
- Revenue sharing
- Can't customize game pages
- No donation options
- Web site feels quite dated
Newgrounds was one I hadn't heard of until recently when someone suggested it on Twitter. I checked it out and found that the web site is far from great to use. It's not difficult, per se, it's just ugly and the experience overall isn't that great. It feels very dated.
Newgrounds seems focused on web playable games, so you won't find the download competition like you have on Itch.io...but Newgrounds is also host to non-game creations as well, such as movies, music and art. They seem to do a nice job of separating and organizing.
The game manager for admins isn't bad either. Itch.io's is nicer and has more features but Newgrounds is still easy to use. You can't customize your page template or anything, so you'll need to get creative with your promotional text.
Newgrounds limits you to 2 game uploads per day, which probably won't be an issue unless you're uploading your back catalog of PICO-8 games like I was and had to spread them out over a couple days...just something to keep in mind. They also don't offer any way for people to pay for your games, but they do offer revenue sharing so you'll get a cut of ads on your game pages. Kinda nice but not sure how much it will yield...probably need a VERY popular game to warrant anything.
Where Newgrounds seems to excel is in good exposure and feedback. After just a few days with my game up on Newgrounds, it has several thousand views and some great feedback from players...far more comments that I ever got on Itch.io, and that's with zero promotion on my side. Newgrounds' base seems to be more active in playing new games which is great. It's hard to say what the longtail is...I haven't had games up for long.
- API for scores and achievements
- Site is ugly; difficult for visitors
To be honest, I can't really say anything about Kongregate because I haven't upload any games there.
I find their site a pain to look at and use, and that was enough for me to not use it. If a site isn't easy for me to use then I'm not going to ask others to go there.
I do know that Kongregate offers an API so that you can tap into their system for high scores, achievements and other things, which is a really nice feature, but I haven't tried them with a PICO-8 game yet.
If you have experience using Kongregate, please share your story.
Where else do you post your games?
As I've learned about game publishing sites, I've found it a real pain to keep up with them. I know it's too much of an ideal to just pick one and go with it...at least if you want as many people as possible to play. But making the rounds to each when I make game updates or changes is exhausting. I'm still trying to come up with a nice system that feels efficient...I'm close but not close enough to not make it feel like a chore.
Please share your own game publishing experiences in this thread so we can build up a good resource for folks looking to get their games in front of people.
here's a post of mine from last month, buried in the "pirating" thread, and more relevant to this one:
so, I've tried these sites:
really well done and all, but it looks like most visitors are other gamedevs. maybe a more upfront webgame section could help bring in actual players? got 3 games there, 500 views in 3 months (none featured though).
well done too, feels a lot like itch.io actually. but their front page is weird. only 6 games featured with really huge icons. "pits of doh" was featured there for a week and now stalls around 0-2 views per day (2000 views total). my two others games amount to a hundred views.
I put my 3 games there a few days ago. it seems they've been downvoted a lot, without much feedback. after a few days they're out of "judgement", but ended up far down in the lists. ~270 views total right now.
MUCH more welcoming! more people "judging" and giving actual feedback. you're out of judgement in a day at most. ratings 3+/5, 5500+ views in 2 days. people seem to like old school pixelated games there.
itchio and gamejolt are great if you can bring people there yourself (twitter, facebook, reddit etc.).
pico-8 games seem quite welcome on newgrounds, not so much on kongregate.
but, of course, your mileage may vary.
also keep in mind that thousands of views only amount to a few cents in ads. there's no real money to make there.
one month later, with three games:
newgrounds: 19500 views, $0.13 (3 games quickly featured)
kongregate:350 views, $0.30 (games invisible, the views mostly come from judgement period)
gamejolt: 2300 views $0.57 and 1 sale $2.44 (all from the 1 game featured)
itch.io: 3800 views, 2 sales $3.48 (no game featured)
yep, the ad revenue is complete nonsense.
post your games on r/WebGames/, it can easily bring a thousand players in a week (no "customer" though).
it's reddit, so if you're not already there you'll have to comment in other threads beforehand to get a sufficient "karma". also each subreddit has its own ruleset and trigger-happy moderators, so pay attention to these.
(addendum) Kongregate has a credit system ($6 fo 50 Kreds). So you can sell your game (by unlocking it) or items for it (micro-transactions). Not sure players can donate but I think it's unlikely to happen anyway. At some point I semi-seriously considered boldly going full retro-arcade with an 'insert kred'. maybe that could work: free basic play, 10 enhanced plays for a kred, 30 kreds to unlock all?
that's payment for a full version download (got zero from "pay if you want")
I tried three models:
I only put my games on Itch.io so far, as I like how the website works and the pay-what-you-want model. But it doesn't quite works for web browser games, I think it's mostly because nothing directly ask for money. When it's a downloadable game, at least people goes trough the pay windows and have to decide if they want to support or not. It's still not ideal as you ask before they play, so they don't know yet if they will like the game. At the same times, people like having the game directly accessible to play.
The only Pico 8 game that people donated for is Combo Pool, with 24.300 views, 681 downloads and 51$ from 18 peoples. It was featured on the website but its views came mostly from some press coverage.
I think people donated mostly because there is a downloadable version for Android in pay-what-you-want. I think it's not because they care much for the Android version, but just because there is a prompt for donation, after they already played the game in the web browser version.
Next, there is P.Craft, with 10.200 views, which is a bit odd as it didn't got featured on the website. It got most of it's views through Itch.io's popular tags, like "survival" or "crafting", so I think choosing good tags is important.
Then Alone in Pico (5.400) that was featured on the website, Cyclo 8 (1100), Serpent's shadow(500) and Rain Culture (200).
Games get few comments on Itch.io, and some people add comments while rating the game and those only appears if you go through Analytics->Interact->Rating&Reviews. It's a bit sad as I don't think players can see those comments and you are not even warned when there is new ones.
I'm interested in publishing on Gamejolt as it's the same model as Itch.io, and maybe Newsground, to have more feedbacks.
UG, as there is no option on your site to upload a PICO program nor do you carry any PICO games, I believe your link falls under the category of SPAM - or prove me wrong otherwise.
Another place, although difficult to post in, is Google Games. I've done a few games there, but the paperwork is very tedious and maddening. :)
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