Which are the marketplaces where one can sell one’s game? Which are the ones that keep the least commission? I should point out that I’m in India, so it has to work (they must pay) to India…
What kind of IF?
Off the top of my head, without having to develop your own apps/manage steam submissions etc. (You’ll also need to check country restrictions because I have no idea.)
Itch.io- Allows a lot of types of IF to be hosted from indi developers.
Choice of games (probably under hosted games if no prior publishing experience or already created games)- choicescript only.
If you want to build your own apps/game platforms, you could consider places like google play, apple istore, steam, amazon etc. depending on what kind of programming you’re planning on using to create your game.
Just a point that there are a lot of games out there on the paid platforms and new submissions tend to get buried quickly before they can be seen. It pays to think how you are going to get them noticed enough that you will sell many copies and actually make it worth your while selling them rather than just writing them for free. (Not a big issue for choice of games which has a company name you publish under with a built in audience, but is a big issues on pretty much any other platform.)
So, I have used itch.io and Steam. I can talk about the Steam experience.
Uploading and getting the process working on Steam is probably the worst experience I have had with computers in the last few years. It must be specifically designed to be terrible. I can’t think of any other explanation. If you go in thinking that the process is designed to frustrate you and stop you from doing it then it becomes a little easier. It’s now the world’s worst puzzle. And I imagine it gets “easier” the more you do it, in the same way that it gets easier to process a crime scene if you work for the police and that’s your job. (I’m just kidding, I don’t want to exaggerate: working with Steamworks is messier than any actual real world crime scene.)
But once you do get it on Steam if you can generate any sort of word of mouth people will buy it. And you will probably get contacted by people who do bundles to see if you want to participate in them. Once you participate in a bundle you’ll get an upfront payment, but that will torpedo your ability to really sell it outside the bundles, as people will buy up discounted keys from your game and put them on the reseller market. But it can be a few hundred bucks you might otherwise not get.
Of course, this is all different, I suppose, if you are a real company or someone streams it on Twitch or it just randomly takes off like Among Us did. I think it’s an experience worth participating in, and Steam handles all the currency conversion and so forth. Good luck!
I sympathize. But, being serious, the process was originally designed almost twenty years ago as an internal tool and then hastily retrofitted for third-party use a couple of years later. And then incrementally improved, in fits and starts. It’s never had a serious overhaul. It’s not a surprise that it’s a headache.
Out of curiosity, are you primarily complaining about the Steam upload process or the packages-and-depots configuration process?
Anyway, on the original question: Itch has a flexible commission. You can set it to anything from 0% to 30%. Itch is oriented towards supporting indies, students, and niche games. Some big-budget indie games sell in Itch as well, but if you have a big-budget game, you are much more interested in Steam or a curated platform (Epic, Apple Arcade).
Steam is oriented towards any game that will sell well. Like, anything that expects to make thousands of dollars or more. Of course, they’re more interested in games that make millions of dollars, but the smaller fish flock there too. However, a not-well-publicized IF game might only make a couple hundred dollars, and at that level Steam is a bad fit.
(Hadean Lands and Meanwhile make a steady trickle of money on Steam, maybe $1500 a year. They count as well-publicized IF, though. Jason Shiga and I have at least some name recognition, and HL had a successful kickstarter back in the day.)
Then there’s audience-supported platforms like Patreon, where you get regular donors and then make games available to them directly. (There are various ways to do this, including Itch.) This is a different model but it may make more sense than direct sales.
Ha, yeah, I was mostly being silly but as an example - at some point recently they put in a really cool interface for selecting tags. It looked great, had a good UX flow, was really intuitive and I had all my tags set. I then clicked the save button… and it died on the call to save. And made me do it all over again. Not the worst thing that has happened to anyone in 2020, but hopefully the OP of this thread can see people commiserating about the process so they know they are not alone if they see similar things.
(It’s been a while since I have done anything with the depot and config stuff, but I recall it “clicking” in my head after RealNC told me some things about it.)
Quick question about selling through Steam;
Does Steam withhold the sales tax or do they pass it on?
Steam (and all of these other platforms) handles the sales tax, VAT, and other regional issues. You don’t have to think about any of that.
EDIT-ADD: They also handle currency conversion.
Thanks. You’re saying they withold it?
Thing is, I’d rather actually they did pass it on.
Yes, they pay the sales tax out of the customer’s money.
The thing is, the customer isn’t paying you. It’s not really your customer at all. The customer pays Steam. Steam owes the sales tax. Steam also has accountants that can figure out the correct sales tax to pay in every single country that their customers live in.
Steam pays you as a contractor. The amount is based on how much customers have paid them (that’s what the contract is about!) but the money comes from Steam. And you haven’t sold Steam anything, so sales tax does not apply.
Again, the same is true of Apple, Patreon, and all these other platforms.
Itch has an optional “direct mode” where you get payments more directly. See https://itch.io/docs/creators/payments#payment-modes . Sales tax is still automatically withheld, though, because it’s just too much of a headache for anyone to deal with.
The sales tax would be different for every state and country though. It’d be a nightmare to deal with.
IIRC, Amazon used to just not charge sales tax to avoid the hassle but then got in serious trouble over it and now they charge.
OK, so Steam is a reseller like Apple and Google. That answers my question. However, for your info Itch direct mode is not a reseller and they do actually pass on the sales tax to you. They also calculate it for each location.
In OP’s case, from India, probably s/he would rather use a platform that was not a reseller, as perhaps sales tax would be mostly zero everywhere.
I’d be interested to know from India perspective if for digital goods like apps, tax is charged at the place of supply or the place of sale.
For example, it’s likely the sales tax from India to USA is 0.
Okay. That’s not the way it worked in 2014, when direct mode was the only option Itch offered.
(Looking at my records from 2014, Itch only charged sales tax in the UK/EU; they definitely didn’t pass that money over to me. Obviously things have changed since then, but I switched to the collected-payout mode as soon as it launched so I don’t know.) (Possibly that column only showed VAT tax?)
(Talk to your accountant. We are not tax advisors.)
@zarf Unless you were operating from within the EU in 2014, they should not have charged sales tax at all! The digital goods tax rules came in 2015 and before then, sales from outside the EU would have been sales tax exempt. Same the other way around.
Hang on, might be wrong here. I’m not totally sure how your sales tax system works. aren’t there two parts? perhaps one part still applied?
Amazon has to charge sales tax if the customer is in a state where they have a physical facility. I pay sales tax in my state, but if I ship something to my dad, they don’t charge tax.
Yeah, but that wasn’t always the case. It changed in 2011, I think.
Here’s some info about it: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_tax
I have written several Hosted Games using ChoiceScript. It’s well worth the effort, as Choice of Games has such good standing that even Hosted Games (not officially ‘their’ games) sell pretty well. You get 25%, and sort your own sales tax. They’re used to dealing with a lot of countries around the world, presumably including India.
If you write an official game for them (within very strict style guidelines) they pay a large advance.