It feels like there's been a flurry of activity recently in PC games stores. Discord recently added a retail section to their multi-chat client, and now browser game hub Kongregate is getting in on the action. Kartridge is their new store, available in both browser and desktop app forms. It's mostly focused on smaller independent studios, as well as supporting a number of free downloadable or browser-based games, and wraps everything up in the achievement-chasing social systems that Kongregate was so well known for. Below, a remarkably restrained store launch trailer.
Even moreso than Discord, Kartridge is focused on smaller independent studios, and is currently giving top billing on its storefront to the likes of Speed Brawl and Fossil Hunters. Hopefully both of those (and plenty more besides) can find some traction here while they previously struggled on Steam. On top of the commercial stuff is a lot of browser-based or pay-what-you-want games with prices starting at free. Some browser games do require you to install an Adobe Flash plugin for you to use, but should hopefully act as a safe little walled garden for notable flash games.
Impressively, there's very little friction (beyond setting up an account) in setting up Kartridge's app version. While it's perhaps a problem that it installs direct to your C drive, it makes the process almost instant. It didn't so much as present me with a single pop-up or prompt before launching straight into the store. Similarly, launching games is just a matter of clicking 'install' then 'play', usually a seamless process. Speed and ease seem focuses here. I've not yet tried buying anything, but it supports regular credit cards and Paypal, and all prices are listed in US dollars.
It's always nice to see more ways of putting money in the pockets of small studios, and more companies featuring the work of smaller creators. Still, this store launch feels a bit too late to really capture any zeitgeist. The slow death of flash and the phasing out of games supporting it have robbed Kongregate of much of their clout. Hopefully this'll get them back on track and looking strong.