Owner of itch.io accuses newly launched alternative w3itch.io of theft

Image for Owner of itch.io accuses newly launched alternative w3itch.io of theft
(Image credit: w3itch.io)

Here's another contender for Web3 is going just great, the satirical website that documents each new disaster related to the ongoing blockchain-based reinvention of the internet. In its own words, w3itch.io is an "open marketplace for independent game creators" where anyone can sell games and set their own prices. Sounds a lot like itch.io, a popular website that already exists, except for one key difference: w3itch.io plans to incorporate NFTs, cryptocurrency payments, and other web3 technology.

Itch hasn't been shy about making its position plain, declaring that NFTs are a scam earlier this year. Given that Steam has banned games with NFTs or cryptocurrency, it's natural that developers desperate to incorporate the blockchain into games want an alternative. It seems unlikely w3itch.io will be that alternative for long, as the site looks suspiciously similar to itch.io and its owner has admitted to using itch.io's CSS files.

"You have stolen the UI of itch.io," said itch's founder Leaf Corcoran, "blatantly ripping it off, in addition to using our name directly in your project. As far as I'm concerned, this is [a] scam to trick people by using @itchio's established brand on an unrelated project for your own profit."

Corcoran reported the issue as a bug on w3itch.io's Github page, which is the most developer way of handling the situation I can imagine. The problem goes further than ripping off webpage design, however, as Corcoran noted. "Additionally, upon going through the content on your platform, it appears you have stolen many games (see rpgmaker.net) for reupload without the consent of the creators of the games. For the sake of respecting creators and their work, I request that you remove stolen content from your platform."

An official response from w3itch.io came via Twitter. It says, "If you find that your content has been stolen, please leave a comment under this tweet or give me a DM and we'll contact its uploader to coordinate with him/her to remove these contents. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the community for the offense we caused."

A browse through the games on w3itch.io brings up quite a few RPG Maker projects that are available elsewhere. Rather than link to them there, here are the official homes of a couple of notable examples: spooky puzzle game Ib on rpgmaker.net, and the latest translation of Mortis Ghost's perplexing mystery OFF. If you're interested in learning more about RPG Maker, here's the secret history of the underdog game engine and how it got its bad reputation.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.