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Softonic accused of defrauding popular indie shop: “Stealing games from our developers and stuffing them with ads”

Softonic and Itch.io are at odds. The indie site Itch.io accuses the download portal Softonic of stealing software and passing on advertising.

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Softonic is one of the largest and most well-known portals for free software downloads. But now there is criticism of their approach.

The Itch.io platform criticizes that the site offers its free software itself and packs it with advertising. You write about it yourself: “[Sie] stealing content from our developers, covering them with ads.

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Itch.io is particularly popular with indie developers, who can use the platform to offer demos or their games for free and receive voluntary donations from users. Many people who are on Patreon also like to use this platform as an additional source of income.

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But what is behind itch.io’s allegations against Softonic?

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Softonic is to buy ad space and thus displace the official provider

On twitter the operators of itch.io complain and show a screenshot. Here you can see how Softonic buys the first place in the Google search as an “ad” and offers software from itch.io there for free:

Who do we contact to help you stop stealing content from our developers, overlaying it with ads, paying for search ranking before the original creator, and continuing to host for ad revenue even after a developer has taken their own site down?

The indie platform accuses Softonic of paying Google to place its downloads before the games’ original download pages, which would be done by reinvesting the profits from the numerous ads in the title and on Softonic itself.

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On top of that, Softonic shouldn’t even bother to adapt the stolen content to its own website. Because the official links to the developers are still integrated on the download pages – but in such a way that they cannot be traced. The developers explain this in another Twitter post:

You are so lazy that you just paste the @itchio link you stole the game from into the author field on your website. And with “rel=nofollow” you prevent search engines from being able to trace the link back to the original. That’s just plain bad.

Why is this so dramatic? In addition to the often free download, Itch.io always gives you the option of making a donation to the developers. So you can still “buy” the game. The procedure should therefore not only damage Itch.io, but also the developers in the long term.

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Basically, you should be careful about which website you download free content from. Other users had had bad experiences with Nvidia software that did not come from Nvidia itself:

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