Kartridge, the PC gaming app store platform from Kongregate, has launched its open beta. It hopes to become a beacon for quality indie games, and it already has hundreds of titles, gamer chat, badges, and player rewards.
It will be a tall order in taking on Valve’s Steam, but the goal is to create an alternative way for game developers to get their games discovered and merchandised with more control over the whole process of selling a game. Kartridge is available on Kartridge.com and a Windows and macOS desktop app.
It’s like bringing back the old town general store in an age of Walmart, but it’s also tapping into discontent with app stores voiced by industry leaders from InXile leader Brian Fargo to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Now we’ll see if players feel the same way.
San Francisco-based Kongregate wants to cultivate the best gaming experience by providing players with community features, substantive rewards, and a celebrated library of games. Visitors to the site can hover over an image with a mouse to see visuals of the game in action.
Completing game — and platform-specific badges and quests — earns Kartridge players rewards including “Kartridge Tokens” that can be collected and used to purchase games outright. The deeper players engage with their games, the more they will be rewarded for their investment, enlarging their overall Kartridge library. Each token is worth $5 toward the purchase of a game.
The beta features over 250 titles from over 100 founding developers, including indie favorites West of Loathing by Asymmetric, Kingdom: New Lands by Raw Fury, Speed Brawl by Double Stallion, and Production Line by Positech Games. Kartridge’s editorial team will work closely with selected developers to implement curated badges within many popular games, giving players the ability to level up by playing the games they own and love.
Other social features include community-based reviews and ratings, and chat, which employs sentiment-based automated moderation, in line with Kongregate’s continued effort to keep its communities safe and fun. Players can chat while gaming, choosing between game-specific rooms or conversing in larger, general discussions.
Developers can customize the pages for their games as they wish, and they can use tools to moderate the chat as they wish.
“You’ll notice the homepage looks very game forward,” said Alison Huffman, director of product at Kongregate, while showing a demo of Kartridge. “We want the game art to shine and show off what things were about in a way that we find to be more effective.”
As an open platform, Kartridge now allows developers to upload their downloadable PC games starting today. Kartridge offers an effortless content upload process, expanding developer tools and analytics, and the previously announced developer-friendly revenue terms, which entitles developers to 100 percent of revenue earned on their first $10,000 in sales. After that, Kartridge takes a standard 30 percent cut.
“We felt there was an opening to focus on indie part of market in a way that brings players in,” said Emily Greer, CEO of Kongregate, in an interview with GamesBeat. “Our goal is to make a meaningful platform for gamers and developers.”
While Kartridge resembles the same achievement system on Kongregate.com, the team intends to develop it further than its predecessor, making it foundational to the player’s core social and gaming experience.
Kartridge will also help developers understand how players are getting to their games by partnering with robust analytics technologies, and has plans to collaborate with other leading industry partners who focus on indie games and developers. Kongregate greenlit the idea two years ago and has been working on it for roughly 18 months.
“Players can come to hub and figure out what they can do next on the platform to get rewards,” said Huffman. “These achievements can be great in multiple ways, making a game more fun to players. We want players to come and play games deeply and challenge themselves.”
She noted that one of the company’s playtesters made 2,100 tries in an attempt to get past a hurdle and then received an “impossible” badge in one of the games.
“I have had a Kongregate account for 11 years but I never got an impossible badge,” Huffman said.
Over time, Kongregate will add more features such as better rewards.
“We have a long way to go, but we felt we were at a point where it is a good platform,” Greer said.