Longterm preservation of itch.io games

It does. (It’s under “Rules for Authors”, 2.)

However, there are a couple of cases where an IFComp entry was submitted as an offsite link. I don’t believe we’ve made an active effort to download such games without the author’s involvement.


While comps do upload their entries, they don’t upload postcomp updates, which tend to live on itch.io. Large and important parts of entries are not being preserved long term; institutionally we are capturing only the initial public release, and not capturing the dialogic evolution, which can sometimes be quite substantial. That’s probably just the inherent vice of internet culture, but it does pose a problem worth considering for an archivist. In the past, I think there was more of a concerted community etiquette around archiving later releases, but itch.io’s prominence as a hosting site seems to have overshadowed that role, even though the Archive now lets you play directly from a file, likely because it’s easier to push incremental updates on itch.io, and because itch.io has filled a lot of the cultural currency of “the place where files go and live”. People don’t really upload to the Archive at all, it is either done for them by an organizer or not done at all. A major dislocation of the itch.io environment does threaten the irrecoverable loss of large swathes of IF.

That said, maybe it’s healthy for things to be ephemeral, with respect for the organic ambiguity which works undergo as they grow and evolve. Certainly, I would prefer my works are always experienced from their latest update, even though only the festival versions are archived. To the extent that I still care about them and intend to issue changes to them, I don’t want a rigorous capture of each recension. So I’m not sure how you balance between the desire to preserve art for the long term while also navigating the short term flexibilities innate to a work with a lifespan rather than a release date.


Okay, that finally clears up confusion I had. Some of my games were browser-only but in the stats I could see they occasionally being downloaded. I assumed there was a way sly people could do it, maybe through a donation or something. Then I got an email from someone asking if I was ever going to make one of the games playable offline and I added a downloadable package, changing my mind to browser games were not downloadable.

It sounds like the real answer is “kinda”. Anyway, downloading to your phone via the app likely isn’t the best way to archive a game package.


I think mobile play sometimes count as “download” depending on what kind of browser you use (though that’s always been unclear which mobile browser does it and how files are retained on those devices).

The app is only for computer/laptop.


Why do you think itchio is less perdurable than steam or if archive, for example?


I had to look up perdurable, but:
-I don’t really care about Steam games, most are not the kind of game I like to play or am involved in archiving (the exception is Hadean Lands, which I feel is well-archived)
-IF archive is designed to be copied and mirrored en masse. It has easy access to files exactly as they are intended to be used and downloaded, and is part of a culture of backups etc.

Itch has no convenient way of archiving things, and there’s no reason for its owners to keep hosting things once its no longer convenient. If they get bought out or just disappear, and turn off the servers, it’s just gone.


Fair enough.

Itchio has an API, maybe someone who know how to use those things could use it to export some games to if archive.


I’m sorry, but I keep seeing this rise in attitude toward itch in the last few years and it really bugs me. Where is this coming from? Just because it’s not a non-profit, it’s automatically bad? Especially in a country like the US where “non-profit” means almost nothing beyond “I want to pay less taxes and have people give me money.”

Why is it so automatic to assume that an organization that started as “I want small creators to have a safe, easy place to display their work, and here’s how I expect to keep it personally and financially sustainable in the face of however much growth it sees” and has, AFAICT, been doing a pretty good job of that over the last nine years… How is that automatically assumed to be so much less enduring than an organization whose origin story is “I completely accidentally found out after 25 years that I should have a legal organization for the collection of volunteer stuff that I’ve been involved in haha lol isn’t that funny”?

Obviously some platforms are bad, but I think the real barrier to preservation in this specific case is getting people to care about it, not choice of hosting. If people aren’t uploading a second copy of their web-playable games as an easy download, good luck getting them to go submit to the IF Archive. And if you want to do it ethically, you need the authors’ buy-in or at least consent. Certainly the IF Archive Terms of Use make it pretty clear that you’re supposed to either be the copyright holder or have a pretty good argument for why it’s OK that you’re not.

So to me, it doesn’t really matter whether or not itch automatically gives you downloads of web games. Either way you have to go convince people that they should put the effort into preserving their games. And the vast majority of them aren’t here: this is a tiny niche. And some of them are going to want their work to be ephemeral anyway.

1 Like

I bumped into this this recently:

It uses the API (and requires an Itch account) to download stuff; I don’t know how it answers the ‘author has only uploaded for online play’ case.

(I also wondered whether Archive Team had anything to say about Itch; they don’t, as far as I can tell.)


I get where you’re coming from, and I agree about the sad status of non-profit organizations in general, but I don’t know if the point is that one is really better than another, so much as there is value in redundancy itself.

I would go so far as to suggest that games that live only in the IF Archive might have better long term prospects if the author also made them available on itch.io. At the very least they’d have a better chance to come in contact with more potential players in the meantime.

Witnessing events at Twitter recently may have reminded folks of the impermanence of seemingly solid internet institutions. Also, there’s a healthy distrust of some large for-profit institutions that has been well-earned which has then bled over to perceptions of for-profit entities in general.

The truth is, non-profit organizations can be mismanaged and undermined by individuals with personal interests and ulterior motives just as thoroughly as any for-profit business. They are human institutions after all, and are subject to all the frailties common to any such groups. I would argue that there is often less motive to do so and often the structure and bylaws of the organization have some guardrails to dissuade this behavior, but it is possible.

With that said, a sincerely benevolent owner isn’t enough to guarantee the future of a for-profit organization. People die, people change. 15 years from now, itch.io could be in radically different hands.

As you pointed out, I cannot tell an author where to store their games, or necessarily convince them that one or the other is better. There’s a reason we let the matter drop with SeedComp. As a personal best practice, I intend to have my projects live on both sites, and I’d advocate for the value of doing so at the opportunity, but I stop short at dictating this to anyone.


I agree with this. One of my goals as an IFTF organizer is to make sure we have such guardrails. Generally this means making all our data browsable, downloadable, and/or mirrorable.

For-profit organizations can also have such guardrails! A documented API is worth a lot. That means that the company is willing to share its data and not be a single point of failure for everything that relies on it.

(One of the early watersheds for Twitter was when they restricted their web API to limit third-party clients. This was around 2011-2012. Since then they’ve wobbled back and forth on how restrictive they want to be, but that was a clear moment of “We need to make sure that the primary beneficiary of the Twitter ecosystem is Twitter.”)