If you are just starting as a game developer using GameMaker, then you may be left with a feeling of "what now"? once you've finished creating your first games. To help answer this question, we're going to give you a brief overview in this tech blog of how to export your game as a complete and playable package, and then where to distribute it to people so it can be played.
EXPORTING YOUR GAME
Regardless of the platform your game targets, exporting starts the same way - by clicking the Create Executable button at the top of the IDE:
What happens next will largely depend on the platform you are targeting and it would be impossible for use to explain it all here in a single tech nlog. However, we have extensive Helpdesk documentation that will take you through all the necessary steps for each platform, which you can find from the following links:
Regardless of platform, at the end you will be left with a file package for your game, for example a .zip on Windows or an .apk on Android. This is what you'll be uploading to the internet for people to play.
SHARING YOUR GAME
Once you've compiled your game you'll want to share it with people, or even sell it on some stores. But how? Well, a lot will depend on the platform that you are working with, as each one will have different strong and weak points. For example, on Windows you might want to sell your game, while on Android you might want to have it as a free (or ad supported) game. We can't help you take these decisions, but we can at least point you in the right direction by suggesting some places where you can upload and distribute your games!
WINDOWS, MAC, UBUNTU
There are a lot of places where you can share your games on the Desktop targets, and most of them support all three of the major platforms. Here's a list of the most well known ones for you to look at (note that some of them will require you to pay a fee to register as a publisher).
To start with, these sites all accept games for all three targets, Windows, macOS and Ubuntu (Linux):
Steam - This is a major distribution platform that requires you to pay a fee for publishing games. The setup and integration of the Steam SDK in your app is essential.
Itch.io - This site offers a number of benefits for small and independent developers, and has a very loyal and growing fan base. No initial fee required to start publishing.
GameJolt - Another site for independant developers looking for an audience. Has no initial fee and monetisation possibilities.
Just for macOS games you can try these as well:
Mac App Store - The Apple App Store for Mac. The most used and common distribution system for mac games, but requires a fee to paid for developing and publishing.
Mac Game Store - This store has been around longer than the official App Store, and permits you to self publish games through them.
For Android there are two main marketplaces:
Amazon App Store - This app store accepts all games for Android (not just those built for the Amazon Fire device) and has a massive reach.
Google Play - The biggest of the Android app stores.
However, those are not the only stores available, with the above mentioned itch.io and Gamejolt both accepting Android *.apk files. Below are a few more commonly used stores, but do some research and you'll find a lot more:
Samsung Galaxy Apps - Samsung have a huge market share so this store is one that should be considered.
SlideME - An independant app store that comes pre-installed on many devices and has a large market share.
UpToDown - A small but well known Android app store where all app submissions are personally curated to maintain quality and ensure there is no malware.
If you want to publish to iOS then there is really only one way to do it and that's through the Apple App Store. If you aren't an Apple developer, then you'll need to make an account and pay a fee before beginning:
Note that there are alternatives to the App Store, but their legality is dubious and many of them host pirated products or malware. We do not recommend trying to publish iOS games through them at all, especially as you may be breaking the Apple Terms of Service if you do.
Like iOS, the UWP platform is locked to a single store, the Windows App Store. Signing up is easy and there is a one-time fee for joining. You can get full details of the process from the following link:
You can also share your UWP apps outside of the store as - for example - a download from your own site by using Visual Studio to make an App Installer. It's also worth noting that once signed up as a developer for UWP, you will have the additional possibility of publishing your games to the Xbox One platform. To find out more, please see the Microsoft Documentation.
Of all the platforms available, the HTML5 web platform is perhaps the most flexible when it comes to publishing. Html5 games can be played on just about any device, and can be hosted on your own web pages or pushed to distribution portals. Of these, the above mentioned itch.io and Gamejolt sites are a great place to start but there are many. many more, for example:
If you want to host the game on your own page, then see the following helpdesk article:
The hardest part of all this is actually getting a game finished and ready for publishing, since - as you can see - there are a wealth of options available to you to get your game out there in front of people to play it. This article only scratches the surface of game publishing though, and we recommend that you explore all the different options open to you! Not only can you self-publish, but you can contact publishing companies and have them help you or you could consider licencing your game to different aggregate portals and let them publish for you (a great way to get HTML5 games published). Whatever you do, take your time, read through any documentation or licences carefully, and above all else, have fun and if you do publish anything, then maybe consider letting us know about it through our GameMaker Showcase!