Kartridge, the Kongregate digital storefront that was announced earlier this year, is now in open beta. More than 250 games are currently available on the platform, which Kongregate said will offer "compelling community features [and] substantive rewards" including Kartridge Tokens that can be put toward new game purchases.
The platform features user reviews and game ratings, but Kongregate is aiming for a much greater focus on curation and moderation than what you'll encounter on certain other platforms. (You know who I'm talking about.) Chat rooms employ a system of "sentiment-based automated moderation," which may or may not be very effective (everyone is being really nice right now so it's hard to tell) but will hopefully at least keep the worst behavior to a minimum, and Kongregate said it will continue to make efforts "to keep its communities safe and fun."
Kartridge also sounds promising from the developer side, with "an effortless content upload process, expanding developer tools and analytics, and the previously announced developer-friendly revenue terms, which entitles developers to 100% of revenue earned on their first $10,000 in sales." As an indie-focused platform, that's pretty significant.
The Kartridge app is bright, colorful, and a little crowded, although it's easy enough to break down games into fairly detailed categories by selecting from genre and various feature tags and fillers. The 'questing' is interesting too. Levels are gained through XP earned by completing tasks such as joining the chat room, playing a game, and earning a badge. At level 3 you get a coupon for 15 percent off a game purchase, and at level 5 you get a token. It's a slow process (joining the chat room scored me 2 XP; I need 120 to get to level 2) so obviously we're not talking about a raging river of free games here, but it's still an interesting way to attract users.
As it's a beta, you're likely to run into bits of wonkiness here and there—there's no way to get out of the new user registration screen without exiting the program entirely, for instance. But overall it seems pretty smooth and well-built, and more alternatives to Steam are always welcome. Check it out for yourself at kartridge.com (opens in new tab).