Making Money with Playdate?

How will game devs make money with Playdate?

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From what I understand, Panic is considering making a Playdate game store, but has not committed to having one ready in time for the launch of the device.

Absent that, because every Playdate can side load games with no need to jailbreak or anything, developers can make their games available on platforms like itch.io, which is what I’m thinking of doing if there’s no Playdate store at launch.

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Some games are selected for inclusion in official Playdate seasons. Not mine, so I can’t comment on that.

I’m concerned selling on Itch as piracy could be (will be?) easy with people simply sharing the downloaded files.

Oh, yes, you’re right, I totally forgot the most obvious way to make money: if Panic selects your game for a Playdate season. I also suspect that it’s likely to be the most profitable way to develop games for Playdate, albeit the one least accessible for most developers.

And, yes, without any sort of anti-piracy mechanisms built into the device or a built-in store, piracy is going to be trivial. Honestly, that’s part of the reason I find itch.io and its humble pay-what-you-want pricing model appealing: if piracy is trivial, then I prefer users who won’t pay still get the game through my page, where they’ll at least be asked to consider paying before they get the game for free.

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Back at Pebble, we’ve been in a similar situation (installing via side loading or through an official “gallery” without a payment mechanism). For my game PinyWings we developed an external payment solution that later became KiezelPay – which ever since got extended to Fitbit and Garmin devices as well.

Currently, this approach would require internet access (not available on Playdate right now) but I can see how the concept could be changed to work in an offline scenario as well. Can set you up with the creator of KiezelPay if you like.

update: changed game link to black/white version for Pebble Classic to be closer to Playdate feeling – filtering for this, will mean that you cannot see this little gem though :wink:

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I think piracy would be of course unavoidable.

However I think the Playdate will appeal to a slightly different audience compared to the PC or console crowd or even the typical DIY handheld to play emulators game. Maybe I am being a bit too optimistic but buying a Playdate is kind of a statement of supporting something made with gusto and taste and wanting to support this type of project. I think it is less likely that such people will cheapen when looking to buy more games.

And maybe it is interesting to consider options like releasing a shareware version to take advantage of people being able to copy and distribute the game for you. The full game could be purchased on itch.io or by unlocking it using a licence key a bit like KiezelPay.

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Piracy ruins everything.

The SEGA mini console is a good example where it is hacked without a electronic store, plenty of ROM images are injected into the console for free - README.

Preferable Playdate can have its own marketing store, like Google PlayStore and AppleStore.

Personally, I believed consumers will purchase genuine games if reasonable, who wanna pirates a game cost just USD0.99 or USD1.99 ?

Hopes this help :slight_smile:

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I think the big concern is how possible it is to make anti-piracy measures on a console that is intentionally open. Once the SDK and everything is shipped out to the public, there’s certainly going to be a group of people reverse engineering the Playdate and the .pdx format. If they can break the supposed encryption methods the hypothetical “store” uses, it’s game over.

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This is definitely an important topic!

We know we won’t be able to stop piracy completely. We are, however, focused on making it difficult enough to copy games that most Playdate owners won’t want to do it casually. And working on distribution systems that are easy enough to use that pirating games won’t be appealing for most people.

We should have more to announce later this year!

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I wondered about integrating with itch.io on the device?

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It’s definitely an interesting idea!

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Personally, I’m a fan of small project creators that put up their work on itch.io for “pay what you want”. I’ve paid several creators for little apps/games just for making it free if anyone wants, just to support them for their openness.

My current plan is to put my work up on itch in the same model to promote that kind of culture.

If a over-air store is developed for playdate, one thing I’d really like to see is the possibility to do pay what you want model. It’s one thing to make apps a set price or free, but the pay what you want model specifically has a whole different meta behind it that I’d personally love to cultivate and contribute to.

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I’m thinking the same thing.

I used to develop apps for PC in the 90s that were distributed as shareware (personally I had millions of downloads but little financial reward) and Itch “pay what you want” is a better modern equivalent of that.

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Chiming in with a bit of experience from the elementary OS side. We have a pay-what-you-want app store where all the apps are open source, and developers can easily enable monetization (we use Stripe Connect behind the scenes). There is no platform DRM, and there is currently no price floor.

Developers can choose a suggested price, and users can modify that in a drop-down. Since all the apps are open source anyway, they could pretty easily be “pirated” i.e. just downloaded and compiled—but we don’t see much of that in our community.

We do the pretty industry typical 70/30 split with developers, with the 30% covering payment processing, hosting, marketing, etc. Even with the explicit ability to download games without paying (no price floor), the store is self-sustaining. And developers love how easy it is to choose a price and get paid.

A price floor is definitely something I would consider on the platform side, but otherwise, this model has worked well for us thusfar. I would love to see something similar on Playdate.

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