Flash Truth

…about flash gamedev and business

Towering Forever

Getting rid of all the money talk and getting back to what really matters: GAMES! OUTSTANDING GAMES! Allow me to introduce you to Towering Forever, an amazing and beautiful game by Pixelante Game Studios. I’ll say no more, just play it!

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October 28, 2008 Posted by | Outstanding Games | , | 1 Comment

Is sponsorship doomed?

Just read the chat event with Jared from Hero Interactive at Flash Game License. In the middle of a lot of questions and answers, one thing popped up. He said that he believes the current sponsoring model will move more towards a licensing model.

A typical flash developer would probably think that this is a bad thing, since exclusive and primary deals are probably the highest paid deals around. Let’s see what this means from a pure business perspective.

Here’s the math, round low numbers for clarity.

With exclusive sponsorship = $100

Imagine that you get an offer of $100 for an exclusive sponsorship. What this means is that you will get $100 and that’s it, maybe some advertising if the sponsor allows it. Your game will be on 500 sites in a month, the sponsor will get all the juicy traffic and that’s about it.

With primary sponsorship = $150

Many developers opt, if they can, for a primary sponsorship. That usually brings a nice sponsorship deal for a lower price, let’s say $75 and the power for the developer to sell site-locked licenses. For calculations, let’s imagine that you would sell 3 site-locked licenses for $25, so that’s an extra $75. The game would go to the same 500 sites, maybe some more cents from advertising.

Pure licensing model = $500

Let’s start with the basic of this. The game would NOT be distributed in 500 sites. The game would be licensed to any site that paid for it. Imagine this: only 20 sites would have the game, but each would pay $25. This is $500 right there. You can argue that portals can do this right now if the game has a primary sponsorship, but they don’t. Why? Because they can have the games for free. The beauty of licensing is that the game is not really freely distributed, but licensed for use.

What’s the big picture?

Well, this could change things a lot. First and foremost, this could mean either the rise or fall of advertising networks as we know it. Rise because portals that couldn’t license games would have to accept advertising not matter what. Fall because the high traffic portals would simply close down any external advertising offer.

This would also benefit more the big developers over the small ones. There would be more money going for developers but the offer would be uneven.

But I see this as a possible change in the business model. A change that is necessary since the right money is not going to the right pockets right now.

October 28, 2008 Posted by | Monetizing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s happening to Mochi?

I have to say that it is with a heavy hear that I write this post. Why? Well, I really like Mochi Media. MochiAds are absolutely amazing, a breakthrough in terms of developer, publisher and advertiser offer. Add to that the value added services of leader boards, encryption and statistics, both through MochiAds for your revenue advertising needs or MochiBot for your overall statistics needs and you have a hell of a technical solution for whatever you want to do with your game.

But I fear that Mochi is starting to feel the pain from their own growth. Community is way too big and flooded by a lot of developers and portals not worried with quality but rather the quick buck and Mochi, which by definition wants to make money, opens their doors wide to them. Actually anyone can get into Mochi, it’s that easy, just create an account, log on and hope for those cents coming in your way.

Mochi recently partnered with Google in order to have Google Ads within MochiAds. While this is certainly good news since Mochi suffers from a severe problem of CPM in many non-English speaking countries, most developers won’t even notice it. There are too many developers there, so, too many games, so, the CPM has to be divided by all. Mochi staff acknowledges in their forums that there are a lot of unpaid impressions. This can only happen because there are too many games.

As CPM keeps getting lower and more developers join Mochi adding crappier and crappier games, the route to the continuous success seems to slip Mochi’s horizon. Developers, specifically the ones that bring a load of hits, will probably hit another service, looking for higher CPM and there’s some serious competition building up.

Mochi Media has the best technical offer, but developers didn’t go there for that, they went for the money and if there’s more money elsewhere, that’s where they’ll go, leaving Mochi with the newbies and the bad ones.

October 24, 2008 Posted by | Advertising Networks | , | Leave a comment

Developer versus Artist

A recurring discussion I’ve witnessed is the developer versus artist. It is one of the dumbest discussions that ever existed and it will be here forever. It does become more intense with flash game development. Why? Well, there aren’t many (if any) development or publishing deals. This means that unless the developer is established, he won’t have any budget for hiring. Therefor what the developer expects is that the artist agrees to a sponsorship/license split. That slipt is usually the start of all problems since it’s quite difficult to quantify how much did each side work in order to determine the split.

Let’s take a look at some common arguments used and make fun of it, ok? Ready?! Good!

Developers take longer to create the game than artists to create the assets!

The opposite of this setence also applies in case you are wondering. This argument is really a tug of war. But isn’t it dumb? Well, of course it is! It is not possible to assume what will take longer for every single developer, every single artist and every single game. Some games, for instance, a puzzle game, take way less art and the logic underneath it usually needs a lot of tweaking for a good result. On the other hand, an experienced coder can make a shooter in no time and have tons of assets.

I don’t have the money to pay for an artist!

Really, kid? Borrow it from your family, save some, don’t buy that console game (or the console really!) but don’t assume that the other guy needs to make you a favor because you don’t have money.

It’s my idea, I should have a bigger split!

Now… this makes some sense. Not because of the “idea” but because the creation of a game means someone wons the intelectual property of the game. BUT!… In that case you should pay the artist the intellectual property portion that is related to his work and considering how important that can be, you would do better NOT to have a split, but rather an upfront payment.

I only work if I receive full upfront payments!

Even if you were the last artist in the world, paying fully upfront is as bad as paying nothing upfront.

I don’t know how much my game is worth so I’m not for paying in advance!

This is really pointless! I’ll translate this to english: I have no idea what I’m doing, but I want to do it as big as possible and have someone else take the risks of make it grand.

… my own final thoughts …

I’ve been on both sides of the argument. I can understand that the developer thinks the artist isn’t rooting for it like him and I can see why an artist shouldn’t take the risk. The problem here is that both artists and developers are taking opposite sides and that’s never good for anyone. Both should understand the problems the other guy faces.

More important, both should understand they are on the same side: to make the best game possible.

Developers should really consider making an effort to get the right artist for the right job for the right budget.

October 23, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you a greedy bastard?

I started this blog a couple of days ago with only one subject in my head: this one. Problem is I didn’t know how to write it without slapping the wrong people. And the wrong people in this case would be the guys behind Flash Game License.

Flash Game License

Flash Game License

So, before moving forward, let me start by saying that this post is not about FGL as a community, a service or a company. It’s not about the people that started it and maintain it. This post is about the wrong mindset that has been created by the possibility of quick cash… and do people love quick cash.

The outstanding success of FGL has made a large amount of developers join the FGL community. I don’t have numbers, but I believe that the growth was at a certain point exponential. The success of one developer brought two. The success of two brought four and so on. We have to understand that this success didn’t arrive by accident. What FGL allowed that was never seen before was to have a standard for both developers and portals. A standard place to show, a standard place to look, a standard set of information to use. The downside of it is that the huge developer community gathered arrived there with a purpose: get their games licensed and either you like it or not, that means they arrived there to make money.

As FGL grew bigger and moved more money, more sponsored games; the community grew eager of achieving the same goals of the more successful developers. At FGL and Mochi forums, questions were repeated ad-nausea. “How much is my game worth?” some asked, many times receiving an answer, from a developer, that finishes his post making the same question. This threads by developers for developers caused a constant feedback of false expectations because, truth be told, most games are worth $0.

Yep, that’s it… zero. Funny fact… many developers think every game is worth something and waste enormous amounts of time thinking more about money than about the product that will allow them to get money: the game itself.

So are you a game developer or a greedy bastard? The game developer in its essence is a hard working person. His next game is his most precious possession and he will strive to make it as perfect as it can possibly be. It’s that passion that creates something between good games and masterpieces.

A new breed of greedy bastards are now thinking day after day how much their 1 day game will profit. Game developers are spending one more day to achieve something grand. Money will smile to the developers.

October 17, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Making money from flash games

I don’t have the slightest clue of the percentage of flash game developers that know they can make money from their games. Assuming at least one isn’t aware of it, I’ll try to tell you what paths are available.

Sponsorship

Many flash portals are interested in having their logos and buttons on flash games. This happens because people use the buttons and logos to navigate to the sponsor site, which translates to traffic, which translates to money. The more money they have, the more they will be willing to pay for better games since better games attract more portals, more players, more traffic and more money. I’ll give my take on sponsorship soon, but for now you can check these resources:

Flash Game License
Flash Game Sponsorship

Stuff

Although this is usually under the sponsorship umbrella, the truth is that it’s unrelated to sponsor branding. The “stuff” I’m talking about it to include APIs or make a custom version of your game or even selling the games rights to a third party that will then own the game. Hallpass has made the process of API inclusion quite easy and straightforward. The developer uploads a game with their API included and after Hallpass staff look at the game and aprove it, they’ll simply transfer $50. Not bad for a 15 minute job. There’s a world of opportunities around for several “stuff” just get to the number of forums around the net and pay attention.

Advertising

Advertising can be quite good or quite bad. The rule of thumb of advertising is that no matter where your game is played, you’ll get something, truth is, a lot of times you get nothing. Many of the big portals are not interested in games with ads, but you can make a buck if you use it. There’s a balance that the developer will need to find between cashing in a good sponsoring deal and having advertising. There are some offers, I invite you to check them:

CPM Star
Game Jacket
Mochi Ads

Revenune Share

Not all is bad news from portals that don’t allow ads. Some offer revenue share usually with a higher pay when compared to the advertising networks. The most outstanding portal that shares their own advertising revenue is Kongregate. Other’s offer it too like Fizzy.

Competitions

Too many to speak of really, but in my opinion most of them are bad for developers. These competitions either make you plug a logo and buttons in your game in exchanged for the remote possibility of winning a prize. That means you automatically exclude yourself from the best sponsorship arrangements. Others are cool though, even if very difficult. Kongregate and Nonoba offer weekly and monthly prizes to the games with higher ratings or number of plays. Althought the prizes are not that high, the simple fact that you enter the competition by uploading the game and eventually using an API, makes both extremelly attractive.

Advergames

This one is tricky. These are games that advertise a product, service or whatever they are contracted to advertise. You’ve seen it everywhere if you think of it. Little flash banners that want to you to score a goal, or to click it fast to win a push-up competition. For most flash game developers, advergaming is not that interesting since it looses the core mindset of game development and is more (if not completely) a marketing tool. To know a bit more about it, check Wikipedia.

And this is the overview of how you can make money from flash games.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | Monetizing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Madness Regent

Madness Day

Madness Day

I was about to start ranting about flash game development, but a little voice in my head -the same that constantly asks me to behave in public- asked me to start nicely, with the best that flash game developers have to offer: outstanding games.

So I thought to myself… well… what game did really impress me lately? And the answer is Madness Regent, created by Tom Fulp, the creator and owner of Newgrounds himself with graphics by MindChamber. The game launched at Newgrounds in the infamous Madness Day and it’s a hell of a game.

A wonderful start to outstanding games.

October 15, 2008 Posted by | Outstanding Games | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flash Game Development Current Status

Flash Game Development is changing.

People are more aware of flash gaming and general free online gaming now that bigger portals offer an added value in the form of high-scores and social networking. Most of the bigger portals left the supermarket approach of displaying hundreds of games for a more social experience. They embed chat windows, allow logins and comments, ratings and so on.

Developers are changing also. Professional teams are moving from the wounded world of casual downloads to a more open market, failing to understand that developing flash games is less risky, but potentially not profitable.

Advertising networks pile up and Google joins the race. There’s a world of opportunity now, but is it worth it and are you taking advantage of it regardless of you being a player, a developer or a portal owner? And are you dealing with the other two sides as partners or as enemies?

This is the status of flash game development today: Exploding! If it’s a good explosion or a nasty one, we’ll see and I’ll be around to tell you about it.

October 15, 2008 Posted by | General | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment