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Pufftek

Best format to sell games in?

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I will be selling a game that I have worked on for a while. I was wondering if selling the game in a ZIP format is bad? This would make things much easier if I didn't have to use an installer. The game has a main executable and several sub directories for resources and saves, and total the zip would be about 36 mb.

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I'd suggest providing both. Some users want an installer that puts a pretty icon in the start menu, other users want to put the game on a flash drive.

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I am not sure what your reasons are for not making an installer but if its to avoid the hassle and time of making one, have a look at Advance Installer, they have a free edition and it is really easy to work with

For me personally I would be put off from a game if it never had an installer, this is only because every game I have played has one and naturally accepted that a game has one, but thats just me

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If your game is large enough you will probably need an installer just because of the sheer size of the game. But don't go making a full-blown installer for a 5MB game that doesn't need complex asset tracking etc.. just let the user download the .exe and .zip and play away. Nobody likes installers, since that's one more obstacle between the user and the game (= possibility of the installer failing for some mysterious reason). So don't use them if you don't need to.

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When someone wants to play a game, I think the last thing on their mind is work...
Which is basically what you'll be giving them if you don't take all the steps to ensure that all they have to do is double-click on something.
If you took all this time to make a game, what's a little extra time to make it easier on your customers to be able to play it?

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I'd provide an installer, preferably one that can either include all dependencies or recognise and resolve them. Zip sounds like it should be good enough but it's not - particularly if you rely on external libraries that you don't include (to keep the size down) or that you can't include (for licensing reasons). I've been burned by people failing to get basic required DLLs into the right directory before and I'm reasonably satisfied that this is a common problem once you go outside of the more technical communities. A fundamental rule here is: "don't make the user have to think". Give them a seamless and pain-free experience and it will pay you back in spades.

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The main reason for not using an installer is compatibility issues with windows versions and their directories, but that's a whole different issue. Now I'm thinking about using a self extracting archive rather than an installer (using something like 7zip), so all the user has to do is click it and it will do everything else. I'm pretty sure you can make desktop shortcuts and such doing that too.

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Compatibility with Windows directories should not be a problem if the installer technology uses the correct environment variables/etc: such as %USERPROFILE% instead of hard-coding paths. This isn't too difficult, and if your chosen installer doesn't use them then you really need to throw it out and find one that does.

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