Humble Store is the money machine behind more than just the Humble Indie Bundle – it runs many of the payment widgets on indie developers' own sites, including Polytron's Fez, indie breakout FTL: Faster Than Light, Cardboard Computer's Kentucky Route Zero, and just about every other widgeted indie game. Over the past year, Humble Store has been leading a quiet, expansive invasion, and those widgets were its foot soldiers.
developer Colin Northway, any platform's success lay in its content discovery capabilities, and this was why Steam held the No. 1 spot.
"Why do people want to be on Steam?" He asks, unprompted. "Not because their distribution tools are great – although they are – it's because so many players use Steam as a content discovery platform. What game am I going to buy today? Let's check the Steam sales."
Alix Stolzer, one half of husband and wife development team Robot Loves Kitty
, just pushed Legend of Dungeon
through Steam Greenlight, and she said, "Setting things up with them has been easy so far." Still:
"The Humble Store has been amazing to us, they provide a great widget for our site, and they've been amazing at handling our fairly frequent updates and any issues that have come up. They are very communicative and helpful, even at strange hours. They even provided us with extra download options, etc., for our Kickstarter backers."
A few indie developers took the "independent" title seriously and handled sales through their own services, on their own sites. Diamond Trust of London
developer Jason Rohrer
, for example, had experience with this approach.
"Aside from selling things directly through my own site – which is similar to the Humble Store model – the only distribution platform that I've found to be worthwhile is Steam," Rohrer said. "By 'worthwhile,' I mean that the money earned justifies the amount of effort involved to get your game accepted and working on the platform."
But those were PC platforms. The question didn't specify consoles, mobile or PC, though the majority of answers trended toward the desktop arena. For those developers with experience on consoles, one platform received favorable mentions.
"Retro City Rampage
moved more units on Steam, but earned more revenue on PSN because the price points remain higher. Most copies sold on PSN were at full price," said Retro City Rampage
creator Brian Provinciano. If he had to pick just one platform to put his next game on, between PSN and Steam, well – he couldn't.
"That's an incredibly tough one," Provinciano said. "Hmm ... can't really say. It would be between PlayStation and Steam, but it's a tough decision. I'm glad neither force exclusivity."
The App Store received a few clinical nods, Microsoft had a small defense force, Nintendo got a mention and of course each answer carried layers of context. Many developers provided in-depth explanations for their choices, too robust for one story but too good to miss – so we're spreading all of them, in full, into a series, coming to Joystiq this week. This is where the indie industry is, right now.
"I think you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who answers anything but 'Steam' to that question," DLC Quest
creator Ben Kane said, asked to choose just one "effective" platform.
Challenge accepted, Kane.