After two years of selling assets on the GameMaker: Marketplace, still in public beta after all this time, I am less than impressed with the experience.
Development of the marketplace website, as well as the integrated features in the GameMaker: Studio IDE, have not been forthcoming. Initially the news of the Marketplace excited me, and it seemed that the future of GameMaker was bright and full of promise. But two years later and almost nothing has changed with the way the Marketplace works — and it works poorly, I’m afraid.
Plagued by a terrible bug which causes the IDE’s My Library interface to become unbearably slow to load when a large number of assets are purchased from the marketplace, sales have ground to a halt. Worse, it seems that no one is interested in spending any money in the Marketplace.
In over two years of selling assets at the Marketplace, I have grossed just slightly over $100 in sales, lifetime, of which YYG take a 30% cut, leaving me well under the $100 minimum in order for them to release any proceeds to my account. I’m currently seeing “sales” of my free assets at a rate of 2-5/day, and maybe once a month or so I’ll see a sale of one of my paid assets.
I’m not advertising aggressively, and there are certainly marketplace sellers who are doing better than I am, with more impresive wares than I’ve produced, but I don’t think that quality doesn’t seem to be the problem; I have a number of free assets, and they’ve done comparatively well, with several hundred downloads to date each. The paid assets, on the other hand, have sold in the single or low double digits.
GameMaker has had a long history of being an inexpensive software intended for use primarily by students, and these users as well as hobbyists have howled over the price increases to the main product; even when GM8.x went from $25 to $40, there was much complaining. The lesson seems to be, “Don’t expect to ever make any money from such tightwads.”
Mind you, I don’t think I’m entitled to sales, but it is certainly frustrating to put effort into something for such meager reward, and it’s demoralizing to see how little effort YYG have put into improving the Markteplace experience since they went public with it.
Although YoYo Games have tried to transition into a more professional tool by adding numerous features over the past 6 years, it seems that lately development has stagnated. No one really knows when the long-awaited, so-called “GM:Next” (aka 2.0, currently in non-public beta) will be out. No one’s really talking about what’s going on behind the scenes, and with their roadmap no longer available, it’s been extremely frustrating to wait for months and months with only the occasional minor bugfix patches for 1.4 being released.
I finally decided to check out alternative marketplaces, and have been very favorably impressed with itch.io. Itch.io is easy to sign up for and use, and much more flexible than the YoYo Marketplace. The only downside being that you can’t integrate itch.io assets with My Library (although, with it’s current buggy and awful performance, it’s not much of a loss) but at least My Library notifies you when updates are available for assets you own.
Itch.io allows me to set prices to whatever I want, or whatever the buyer wants, create bundles of assets for sales, and schedule these sales to start and end at defined times. None of these features are to be found in the YoYo Marketplace. Itch.io seems to be more for finished games, but there are also assets for game developers, and other types of things for sale, such as digital books and music. Best of all, itch.io only takes 10% of your gross sales (and they allow you to change that figure if you wish). The diversity of the itch.io store means of course that only a fraction of shoppers there will have any interest in GameMaker extensions, which may prove to be a downside. As well, their store is populated by thousands of great games and other high quality goods, many of them offered for free, so while the barrier to entry is technically low, the expectations of the customers of this marketplace may be high.
Itch.io’s analytics also provide me with better information than YYG. With YoYoGames, they consider you, the publisher, to be a “third party” to sales through their store, and therefore they do not share your customer’s personally identifiable information with you, so you can’t contact your customers. Itch provides the email address, so you can engage your customers, for example notifying them when an update is released, or when a new product is available.
In all, they’re basically eating YoYoGames’ lunch in terms of e-commerce user experience, both as a publisher/seller and as a customer. YYG really need to get it together and catch up with the competition, and soon.