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Where can I sell my Indie PC game?
by Rebecca Fernandez on 11/15/12 10:33:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 
In an effort to increase our sales numbers we are looking into all the different places that we can sell our game, Triangle Man. Before starting this research I had no idea that there were so many different online distribution channels for PC games. It has been really difficult to gather this info – there wasn’t a nice central location where I could find it all (though this blog post was amazingly helpful, and inspired mine).

So, I thought it would be a pretty good idea to share this info and save you all some time. This is for Windows PC games only, since that is what Triangle Man is. I didn’t cover sites like Kongregate or other browser based games sites. Someone did point me towards a site called Gumroad which lets people sell their products without a store. All they need to do is share a link with users. If we ever decide to sell from our website, then this is something we’d probably utilise.

If you are able to fill in any of the “unknown” sections in this, it would be greatly appreciated. Please also let me know if you know of any more pros or cons for any of the sites.
Also, the “daily visitors” numbers were taken from this site: http://www.statscrop.com. The numbers I received were obviously incorrect, however they do seem to be proportionally incorrect, if that makes sense. So, what I’m going to do is use those numbers and compare each site to Steam. So I will list a percentage for each site – for example, if the percentage is 30% that means the site gets 30% of the number of visitors that Steam does (please excuse my terrible grammar).

Someone also pointed out that most sites either pay quarterly or monthly – for those sites where I’ve written “no idea”, it’s probably a safe bet that they pay quarterly or monthly.
 
I had a few comments telling me that I should be charging for this info! That doesn’t really sit right with me. However, please feel free to purchase our game if you feel the need to show your appreciation. I might be biased, but I think it’s pretty good. If you’re poor you can even download the demo for free!
Enjoy :)

Steam

  • Daily Visitors: 178, 500 (100%)
  • Number of games available: 5726
  • Revenue Split: Variable, guestimated to be around 60/40.
  • Approval method: Via Greenlight for new developers
  • Monetisation methods: Outright sale +DLC. I don't think IAP are supported (Update: apparently IAP are supported - my bad)
  • Payment details: I've no idea. Quarterly?
  • Pros: 
    • HUGE platform! Minimum of 2.5 million online users at any time.
    • Indie friendly
    • Quality control
    • Developers have control over price
    • Games periodically promoted in client, on website.
  • Cons:
    • WIP games not accepted
    • Gamers must have Steam client installed
    • Difficult and time-consuming to get onto platform.

Desura

  • Daily visitors: 13,440 (7.5%)
  • Number of games available: 957
  • Revenue split: 70/30
  • Approval method: Submit via web form, after registering. OR create game profile on IndieDB and/or ModDB and hit the "publish" button.
  • Monetisation: Outright sale
  • Payment details: Via PayPal, every 30 days, only if you make $500 or more (Update: Apparently you can ask the admins to pay you even if you didn't meet the $500 requirement)
  • Pros:
    • Indie Friendly
    • WIP games accepted (under alpha funding)
    • Quality control
    • Developers have control over price
    • Admins are in our time zone (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
    • Admins are really patient (trust us, we tested!)
    • Developers have control over all marketing materials + news articles
    • Updates usually approved quickly (< 1 week)
  • Cons
    • Gamers must have Desura client installed (Update: apparently developers can decide to sell straight from Desura's site with no need to go through the client)
    • Not as many users

IndieCity

  • Daily visitors: 1029 (0.6%)
  • Number of available games: 344
  • Revenue split: 75/25 or 85/15 if you use incorporate their SDK into your game
  • Approval Method: Peer approved to make sure games are functional (and that they're games)
  • Monetisation: Outright sale
  • Game requirements: 
    • Listed here, though I'll explain them a little:
    • Provide .exe and component data
    • Component data must be < 1gb in size
    • Need to indicate dependencies (which makes me think they will handle them)
    • If you provide a demo, it must not have links external to IndieCity
  • Marketing requirements:
    • game logo/cover - 253 x 118 (png or jpg)
    • 5 screenshots - 960 x 720 or 960 x 540
    • Installer image - 164 x 314 (bmp)
    • banner image - 150 x 57 (bmp)
    • at least one YouTube video
  • Payment details: Via paypal, paid per purchase with a 14 day delay.
  • Pros:
    • Low barrier to entry for getting your game on the platform
    • WIP games permitted
    • can set your own domain (ie. triangleman.indiecity.com)
  • Cons
    • Low site traffic
    • Gamers must have IndieCity client installed
    • They have the ability to reduce the price of your game by 10% without your consent (for sales purposes)
    • No quality control - as long as a game doesn't break, it will be accepted
    • You need to implement your own copy protection - though using their SDK

IndieVania

  • Daily visitors: 1218 (0.7%)
  • Number of available games: 511
  • Revenue Split: 100/0
  • Approval method: Register to the site and submit game (via webform, I assume). The game must be approved by a moderator. (Update - seems the only way is actually via the generic "Contact Us" webform.
  • Monetisation: Outright sale
  • Game requirements: None
  • Marketing requirements:
    • YouTube video
    • Game Logo (not sure on size)
    • Cover image (not sure on size)
  • Payment details: Via PayPal, almost immediate.
  • Pros:
    • You keep all the profits
    • No additional client for gamers to download
    • WIP games accepted.
  • Cons:
    • It seems like the games (and updates) take a long, long time to be approved. There also seems to be little communication between the moderator(s) and the developers. There are some developers who have just written: "DON'T DOWNLOAD MY GAME FROM HERE" all over their pages since their updates are never approved :/
    • Developers are responsible for refunds
    • No copy protection
    • Poor site traffic
    • No quality control

LittleIndie

  • Daily visitors: 95 (0.05%)
  • Number of games available: 32
  • Revenue Split: 80/20
  • Approval method: Email game details to site admin.
  • Monetisation: Outright sale
  • Game requirements: 
    • Unsure about any requirements
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Game logo/cover (not sure about size)
  • Payment details: No info on this.
  • Pros:
    • WIP games accepted
    • Udated frequently which means the admins must be diligent
  • Cons:
    • Gamers must download the LittleIndie client
    • Very low site traffic

GamersGate

  • Daily visitors: 18,900 (10.1%)
  • Number of available games: 4,252
  • Revenue split: 70/30
  • Approval method: Email them your game info - the games are approved by the site admins.
  • Monetisation: Outright sale (everywhere), free to play with ad support (US, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark ONLY so far).
  • Game Requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements: 
    • Box art
    • Screenshots
    • Trailer
    • Large promo image for game page (no idea about sizes for any of these)
  • Payment details: no idea.
  • Pros:
    • Quality control
    • High traffic
    • Sells indie games
    • No client for the users to download
    • Supports WIP games
  • Cons:
    • I believe they might not be as friendly to "new/unproven" developers, however that's just a guess based on the available games.
  • Other notes: Once a user owns a game they can download and install it on as many machines as they like. I'm not exactly sure how this works.

Awomo

  • Daily Visitors: 378 (0.2%)
  • Number of games available: 165
  • Revenue split: no idea
  • Approval method: Send an email to initiate discussions.
  • Monetisation: outright sale
  • Game requirements: no idea
  • Marketing requirements: 
    • Box art
    • Trailer
  • Payment details: no idea
  • Pros:
    • based in Germany, so you're hitting a different market
    • Users do not have to download the full game if they don't want to - games can be streamed.
    • Cloud saves
  • Cons: 
    • Low traffic
    • Users must download the Awomo client
    • Your game needs to be in German and English
    • Doesn't support WIP games
    • Not much info available

ImpulseDriven

  • Daily visitors: 9,240 (5%)
  • Number of games available: 1,871
  • Revenue split: 70/30
  • Approval method: Sign up to the website, then add your company and game. I imagine these need to be approved by their QA team.
  • Monetisation: Looks like outright sale + dlc
  • Game requirements: I'm unsure
  • Marketing requirements: 
    • Screenshots
    • Cover Image
    • Game Icon
  • Payment details: no idea
  • Pros: 
    • Looks like they have some quality control
    • Site admins are very active
    • Fair amount of site traffic
    • Indie games welcome
    • Owned by GameStop, so possible cross-promotion via their physical stores
  • Cons:
    • Looks like most games need players to download their client
    • Doesn't support WIP games

BeamDog

  • Daily visitors: No information available
  • Number of games available: approx 500
  • Revenue split: Not specified
  • Approval method: Email them to begin negotiations
  • Monetisation: Outright sale
  • Game requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Screenshots
    • Large background image
    • Game cover
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Price is developer set - including sales
    • Release dates fully controlled by the developer
    • Very active forums
  • Cons:
    • Gamers must download their client to get the game
    • Not much information before contacting them..

GameHouse

  • Daily visitors: No information available
  • Number of games available: 1,953
  • Revenue split: 70/30 for 3rd party developers
  • Approval method: Create an account and then follow the info on the submissions page. However I could not create an account because I kept getting the error "Invalid CAPTCHA attempt" despite the fact there is no Captcha on the account creation page. Apparently the submission process works similar to Valve's previous one - you can send them incomplete games as long as they are in late beta. They will review them and decide whether to publish the finished product.
  • Monetisation: outright sale and a monthly subscription for access to all the games. The players don't technically "own" them, they must log in to GameHouse each time in order to play.
  • Game requirements: Long list incoming, sorry
    • game must not self-update or self-check (I guess if you have your own “drm”)
    • all dependencies must be included in the installer
    • must be 32 bit windows executable with .exe extension
    • must be uncompressed
    • .NET is not technically supported, but they say they do occasionally make exceptions
    • no built-in demo, they will handle that
    • default to full-screen
    • path names must be less than 80 characters
    • icon for vista games explorer must be included
    • game must run on vista “limited user” account
    • thumbs.db removed after installation
    • the .exe must be in the root folder for the game
    • game must not require additional software (ie direct x 10, MS c++ redistributable) - ok, this sounds insane, it would automatically rule out a crapload of games, there must be something here that I don’t understand
    • you need to be able to show a variety of their distribution logos (in game), so:
      • logos should be pulled from a branding folder ([game root]\branding\splash1.jpg)
      • game needs to be flexible in the number of logos to display
    • SOOO much localisation stuff, I am just going to link the file: https://partners.gamehouse.com/media/files/RealGames_LocalizationReqs_v2.0.pdf
    • Minimum requirements Pentium III, Windows XP, 256MB RAM, 32 MB VRAM, DirectX 7.
    • Max HD space to take up: 300MB
    • Game needs to recover from sleep/hibernate, ctrl+alt+delete, alt+tab, restore using windows key, windows+L
    • Game needs to handle F4
    • needs to launch under vista with user accounts control turned off
    • audio must cease to play if game is minimised
    • must not change desktop resolution in windowed mode
    • all clickable options in the game need mouse over highlights and sound effects
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Master Art file (.psd) which includes
      • game logo, 300 dpi
      • main characters
      • key background elements
    • minimum of 6 screenshots
    • jpg max quality
    • 800 x 600
    • naming convention screenshot_800x600_1.jpg
    • no “drop shadow” on screenshots
  • Licensing/DRM: Obviously available for users with a site subscription, not sure how it works for outright purchases since they don't seem to have a client.
  • Payment details: No idea.
  • Pros:
    • They really do their best to promote your game
    • Possible options for physical distribution too
    • Looks like users don't have to have a client if they just want to buy the game outright.
    • Good social network integration
  • Cons:
    • Caters to a casual audience, though apparently they are expanding to include others
    • Lots of restrictive game requirements

Green Man Gaming

  • Daily visitors: 3402  (1.9%)
  • Number of games available: 1,102
  • Revenue split: No idea.
  • Approval method: Send an email to the site admin for further communication.
  • Monetisation: Outright sales, DLC and bundles. It also seems that they sell games that require Steam accounts.
  • Game requirements: No idea.
  • Marketing requirements: 
    • Small game cover
    • Screenshots
    • Larger background image
    • Various other images that can be used on banners around the main site.
  • Payment details: No idea.
  • Pros:
    • Indie-friendly (including non-major indie games)
    • Very active user forums
  • Cons:
    • Very slow loading times while I was browsing their website
    • No WIP games accepted.
    • Not much information available.
    • Requires download of their client.
  • Other notes: Gamers are able to trade in their games - which suggests that Green Man will handle licensing in some way.

WildTangentGames

  • Daily visitors: 21,840 (12%)
  • Number of games available: Roughly 2,000
  • Revenue split: No idea
  • Approval method: Send them an email with an executable for your game as well as the things listed below in Marketing Requirements
  • Monetisation: outright sale, rental or ad supported, In-game purchases
  • Game requirements:
    • Game must run on Windows XP
    • Games must launch full screen
    • Games can have dependencies - let them know and include them in the submission if possible.
    • Games must not contain links to external sites
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Main background image - minimum 1600 wide
    • Main character assets
    • Box shot - minimum 1600 wide
    • 6 screenshots at the maximum resolution that you support
    • Game logo
    • Icon (optional) - 16x16, 32x32, 48x48 or 256x256
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Wider market - lots of casual games, but also a few "hardcore" games.
    • Support a number of different game formats
    • Has dedicated store fronts for different countries
    • Ability to suggest price
  • Cons:
    • Gamers must download their client to be able to play
    • No WIP games accepted.

Good Old Games

  • Daily visitors: 23,940 (13.4%) 
  • Number of games available: 477
  • Revenue split: No solid idea - reportedly less than 70/30 (somewhat unreliable source)
  • Approval method: Fill in their web form to begin discussions
  • Monetisation: outright sale
  • Game requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Box shot
    • Banner image
    • Screenshots
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Gamers do not need to download a client (but they can if they want to)
    • Quality control
    • Very active forums
    • Few games to compete against
    • Indie friendly
  • Cons:
    • I've no idea how their licensing works (I've never purchased a game from GOG). I imagine you'd still need to at least activate a game before playing it for the first time?
    • No WIP games accepted.
  • Other notes: Games MUST be DRM free

Rain Digital Games

  • Daily visitors: 210 (0.1%) 
  • Number of games available: 15
  • Revenue split: No idea - listed as "competetive"
  • Approval method: Fill in their web form to begin discussions
  • Monetisation: outright sale
  • Game requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Background image
    • YouTube video
    • Company logo
    • Game icon
    • Small, rectangular game logo
    • Large promo banner for main site
    • Square promo advertisement for main site
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Gamers do not need to download a client
    • Few games to compete against
    • Indie friendly - in fact, only indie games allowed
    • This site looks promising - it is apparently only 6 months old, so it will grow. It looks professional - perhaps it might be an idea to get on the platform now before it really takes off
  • Cons:
    • Not much info available without contacting them
    • Currently - low site views
    • No WIP games accepted.

Get Games Go

  • Daily visitors: 2,184 (1%)
  • Number of games available: 630
  • Revenue split: No idea (Update - I was contacted by Get Games Go who inform me that the revenue split is usually 70/30)
  • Approval method: I can only find their normal "contact us" web form. No specific developer contact form.
  • Monetisation: outright sale
  • Game requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Box shot
    • Screenshots
    • YouTube Trailer
    • Large-ish game icon
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Gamers do not need to download a client
    • Indie friendly
    • Developers DO control the price
  • Cons:
    • Not much info available without contacting them
    • No WIP games accepted.

Gametap

  • Daily site visits: No information.
  • Number of games available: 1,173
  • Revenue split: No idea.
  • Approval method: Email their licensing VP - details at the bottom of this site.
  • Monetisation: outright sale, "Unlimited play" which involves gamers subscribing to the site.
  • Game requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Box shot
    • Screenshots
    • Banner
    • Large-ish game icon
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Gamers do not need to download a client
    • Quality control
  • Cons:
    • There don't seem to be many games from lesser known indies
    • No WIP games accepted.
  • Other notes: Gamers can download and install the games as many times as they like (they do need to activate each one via Gametap)

GameStreamer

  • Daily site visits: No information
  • Number of games available: Over 2,700
  • Revenue split: 85/25 as of 2009 (source)
  • Approval method: Fill in their online form.
  • Monetisation: outright sale, DLC
  • Game requirements: No idea
  • Marketing requirements:
    • Box shot
    • Screenshots
    • Small rectangular image for store front
  • Payment details: No idea
  • Pros:
    • Indie friendly
    • Active forums
  • Cons:
    • Gamers must use their client in order to download games
    • No WIP games accepted (I think)
    • Not much quality control
(This entire post taken from my personal blog)

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Comments


Lars Doucet
profile image
EDIT:
Turns out the GOG numbers are a tad high because I was accidentally including free GOG code redemptions. It's still high and worth considering, though.

Another to add to your list:

Kongregate, if you can get your game to run in a browser. If you can target Flash, HTML5, or Unity, this is available to you.

Kong has a *huge* audience and a built-in microtransaction engine that can be quite lucrative. It looks like Triangle Man runs in XNA, so you might consider talking to MagicalTimeBean about the system they used to port EscapeGoat to HTML5 (originally an XNA game):

http://www.playescapegoat.com/

They've currently got their other game, SoulCaster, running on Newgrounds, though they're just using it to drive traffic to their other games rather than direct sales of SoulCaster.

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/606067

Portals like Kong and NG are as close as it gets to a meritocracy when it comes to discoverability.

Here's some info on the success we were able to find by leveraging flash portals to drive traffic and sales:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/168303/defenders_quest_by_t
he_numbers.php

I'll also weigh in with some data about Steam/GOG/Desura/Impulse, etc. I can't break NDA (so I can't talk about revenue share %'s), but I can say this:

Revenue from source compared to steam's revenue:
Steam - 100% (obviously)
Desura - 0.41%
Impulse - 0.51%
GOG* - 37.8% <------------WHOA!

This is huge. When your game releases on Steam it tends to suck oxygen away from other storefronts - way more people would buy the game on Desura, Impulse, and GOG if it wasn't available on Steam, for instance. So the fact that GOG holds up this well under direct competition with Steam is astounding. GOG is a rising contender, folks.

EDIT: One caveat- we got more promotion on GOG than Steam during that period, so it's not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison.

It's harder to compare Kongregate to that because we released on there much earlier, at a different price, and weren't featured at the same time as we were on Steam, but I can say 95% of our revenues for the 8 months prior to launching on Steam were traced back to Kongregate (either through traffic to our site, or sales made directly on Kong). Here's more numbers:

Revenue from source as % of total final revenue:
Direct sales (most of this was kongregate traffic) - 38.85%
Steam sales - 35.12%
Kongregate sales (using kong kreds) - 13.42%
Desura sales - 0.14%
Impulse sales - 0.18%
GOG sales - 13.30%

Aaron San Filippo
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Thanks for sharing Lars, this is great info! We're huge fans of Kongregate too.

Rebecca Fernandez
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Ah, that's really good to know, thank you!

Greg Quinn
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Hi Lars, nice comment!

How did you redirect Kongregate traffic to your site? Did you just have a link on the page or a screen in game that could be clicked on that took visitors to your site?

I'm thinking of putting a web demo of our game on Kongregate then putting up a buy the full game screen somewhere. I'm not sure if this is allowed though?

Aaron San Filippo
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@Greg: We did just that with Race The Sun on Kongregate. They featured the game on their front page so I don't think they had an issue with it :)

We haven't seen a *ton* of conversions, but we also have an in-game mailing list signup, and Kongregate lets you send messages to active/inactive players, so if you find success there you can get a pretty decent audience. Highly recommend trying it at least once.

Lars Doucet
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@Greg:

For the first month, we had a demo up-sell screen at the end of the game with a "Get the full game!" button that directed traffic back to our site to a special landing page (www.defendersquest.com/demo_buy_kong.html) that originally had an embedded coupon code for $1 off. Here's the game page so you can see how it works: http://www.kongregate.com/games/LevelUpLabs/defenders-quest-prelu
de

We later switched that around so the buy button just opened the kong mtx. interface.

We did the exact same thing on newgrounds.


It is allowed as long as the game isn't a complete rip-off without any content, so Kong/NG shouldn't have a problem with demos as a rule.

Keep in mind that the real challenge is that you risk the wrath of players who hate demos. Newgrounds players were way more tolerate of the demo-upsell format, our score didn't really suffer, butsales overall were lower from NG (but still a lot of them!)

Kongregate players were more polarized - we got a LOT more sales from Kong, but there was a huge vocal minority opposed to the idea of a demo, so our score suffered a bit. The demo-upsell strategy requires you to thread a careful needle - you don't want to come across as dishonest, so you don't want to surprise people with an upsell screen, because that triggers the 1-star hate ratings. On the other hand, if you advertise "DEMO" up front some people will rate you down sight-unseen. We eventually chose to bite the bullet and just advertise it was a demo. We tried to call it a "prelude" before and other cutesy things, but players saw right through that and were really angry/disappointed.

The best approach I've ever seen done though, is offer what feels like a complete experience in itself, and then advertise an even better one for sale when the game is complete, like Creeper World did. This way you get the upsell format without the down-vote hate. Don't try this unless you really know what you're doing, though. Expectations change everything.
http://knucklecracker.com/creeperworld/web/play.php

Greg Quinn
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Thanks for the advice.

I think what is best is creating a version that can be unlocked for Kong Credits.
I also feel this is fair on Kongregate as a platform, and an ethical approach to business.

Thanks again for the tips!

Aaron San Filippo
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This is really great info, thanks!

Lex Allen
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Also, you can try kawagames.com. If you have visual novels or dating-sims, you can also submit to my site visualnovelgames.com

Greg Quinn
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Thanks for the great list.
We're releasing our upcoming Monster Truck Racing title in the next few weeks and will be submitting it to many of these.

J Spartan
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@ Rebecca Fernandez,

excellent info and i would just add that in terms of GoG, there is no end user activation of the game, you simply download it DRM free then run the installer, which can be done in internet isolation (e.g. as i do, download on one PC than install it on my internet isolated 'game' pc). I was one of those GoG customers sending them emails and posting on their forums about how they would make a perfect platform for Indie devs, and really it is by far and away the best DD service i've tried, for the gamer and for the dev.

(I don't work for them! But i get most of my DD games from them)

Marvin Hawkins
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Really great info! Thanks for sharing.

Kristian Hogberg
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Can soon add FireFlower Games to that list. :)

Kristian Hogberg
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The site is now up - http://fireflowergames.com/

luis Abrines
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This is really great info, thanks about it

Anna Lev
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Thanks for this useful information, I learned a lot for myself.


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