Community Accessibility on itch.io
I implemented a suspended-coffee style Community Copy program on itch.io — the intention being to lower the barrier to entry for people to play my games, while at the same time fostering a sense of community and good will. Here’s what it looks like — in both cases if there are copies available or not:
Here’s how to do it… in short, this is created using itch.io’s reward system, and a little bit of manual elbow grease. It’s not strictly automatic, but it’s not too bad.
Step 1: Find the Reward System. It’s perhaps not immediately apparent, but it’s under the advanced More menu in each product’s Edit Game page
Step 2 (optional): Set your pricing to fit a Community Copy model. My method is to have a minimum price for those who just need a little bit of financial help, and then a recommended price for those that can afford it. Anyone who purchase at or above the recommended price will unlock a community copy.
As an alternative, I’ve also seen people offer a scaling contribution — that is, for every $5 above the price, unlock a community copy (so, for a $5 title, a generous purchase of $20 would unlock 3 community copies). That works well if you prefer a pricing scheme without the minimum/recommended split.
Step 3: Community Rewards. This is the meat of the work. You’ll need to create two Rewards. One is the free product itself, the other is the Donation Reward. Set the quantity high on the Donation Reward. We effectively want it unlimited (probably?). I use 99 here, but it can be increased later with no problem. The free product starts at a 0 quantity until a Donation is made (or you can start it off with 1 if you want to prime the tank, so to speak).
A side note: itch.io likes to reset 0 quantity rewards to a blank field, so you have to repeatedly type 0 into the quantity field to get it to save the first time if you want to start on empty.
Step 4: When a Donation Reward is purchased, increase the Community Copy pool count (as shown in Step 3). This is the manual step. When someone purchases a Community Copy Donation reward, it goes into the reward system. This is a feature that itch.io uses to track things that have to be granted, like t-shirts, swag, additional content for an individual, etc. This tracking comes in handy, though. There’s a nice little checkbox that we can flag to keep track of which Donations have been added to the pool already. Use that to keep track.
Step 5 (optional): Donation Bonuses. I haven’t actually done this with Real Content yet, just a thank-you note, but with itch, you are able to automatically give out content at specific price points. With this feature, we can set up a mechanism to, for example, give some additional artwork, or some extra bonus content to people who have purchased a Donation.
One last thing, giving thanks to Dee Pennyway and Matthew R.F. Balousek. This concept is not wholly my own, and it came out of collaborative discussions between the three of us. Make sure to check out their itch pages too!