Art-to-Play: Paying for a Video Game with Art Instead of Money

Through Art to Play, you don't have to pay money to play Deep Under the Sky. Instead, you pay with art.

How many games let you pay in art? As of a few days ago, you can now name just one: Deep Under the Sky.

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In lieu of a monetary charge, Deep Under the Sky developer Northway Games is allowing you to instead pay for the game with art that you spent thirty minutes making.

The art must be related to the game in some way, and at least mention the title within the piece. You can then submit your creation here to get a copy of the game. But it doesn’t just have to be a drawing. Northway Games will also accept, “a drawing, painting, short story, sculpture or a picture or anything that is rad.”


Example fan art by Thomas Shahan.

Why the strange payment method?

Because the game wasn’t selling well the traditional way – odd, given the praise it’s received. Most of its reception has been positive, and from big name sources like Polygon and TotalBiscuit. The developers cite the art style as potentially off-putting, explaining the game’s lack of sales.

But this isn’t the only reason behind Art to Play. A few Twitter conversations pushed Northway Games in this direction. In the developer’s own words (via an interview for Kotaku):

“There was this kid haranguing me for a free copy before the game came out. It’s kind of a tricky to deal with that because sometimes it’s someone who really cares and honestly can’t buy it but some people actually beg keys off of developers and then resell them. Art to Play is a good way to separate the two of them.”

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