Flash Truth

…about flash gamedev and business

Crisis and Hope

I was browsing around the web, looking at games from other developers. Word on the “street” was that sponsorship and advertising money was wearing thin all over. From what I read here and there seems that crisis is hitting the flash market space.

But like I said, I was browsing around, playing games from other developers. I had some fun and I even took some notes. God! I didn’t take notes about games for a long time.

Suddenly I needed something to relax my eyes and my hand-eye coordination, so I took a look at some user comments on Kongregate and it’s getting better! I remember saying to my monitor like if I was talking to myself “I need to write about this Kongregate shift of user behavior.”

Sorry… getting lost here… crysis and playing games… right! Why the hell am I writing this? You want to know? There are much better games now! This was expected by anyone slightly awake I know, but has anyone noticed that quality is really start to sky rocket?

Kudos to you all flash game developers! Those that are making a difference and raising the bar. You (and hopefully me) will make this market better and stronger, just hang on while this crisis is making it’s damage.

Today I was playing some games… read something about crysis but I have all the reasons to hope for the best. We are doing our part.

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February 24, 2009 Posted by | flash games, General | , | Leave a comment

The ‘1’ that rules it all

planet-clock-3dI know I’ve been through this, maybe you have too. How much time does it take to make a game that is good enough to be profitable? This self-discussion that many developers face took a step with Feronato’s Experiment, like I like to call it.

The baseline of the topic is: what is more profitable, a one day game, a one week game or a one month game. I’m sorry to inform you I don’t know, what I’m sure is that the quality of flash games is rising, thus, the value for lower-end games with not that much of content or depth will be lower as time goes by.

Richard Davey commented in this blog that my view on the rate was probably wrong and reading his words I tend to agree with him since I did not take into consideration the possibility of having multiple projects going which would naturally lower the number of hours per project. With this in mind, I’m proposing, not the debunking of the flash development and marketing process but the analysis of the projected value in nowadays and future market. Best way I know is to offer you my own figures.

1 day game…

I only did a 1 day game once and it was a tech demo to show how to use some classes to some other devs. Some developers brag that they have found sponsors for games that fit in this category but I have never seen a game from any. I’m sure there are some polished exceptions, but I find hard to imagine any portal sponsoring or licensing the vast majority of 1 day games, after all, they can find better than that.

To the best of my knowledge, MochiAds with distribution enabled should give some money in the long run and if the developer can make a 1 day game every single week day, he will probably have a constant, although low-end income.

1 week game…

Been there… not exactly a week but less than two weeks. I’ve done it more than once also and my take is that the results depend a lot of the mechanic. Sure, this is true for almost any game, but it’s even more evident with 1 week games. If you have an extraordinary design, mechanic and a unique touch in your game, you can have a winner with a very small amount of time consumed.

I’ve experienced great success with this and grand failure. Both took around 10 days to make.

The great success granted me around $3000. It was a twist on a well known mechanic and I didn’t have any major expectations with it but it turned out to be a exception in terms of 1 week games.

Others have been a failure, best I got was $650. Although I cannot generalize I would say that 1 week games already have a hard time competing for offers and this will only get worse.

1 month games…

…or dare I say 1+ month games? Never did one month games although I’ve started some. All the projects that are supposed to take one month usually get 6 to 8 weeks because I take the time to make it better and better.

This is, in my opinion, the most fascinating thing about projects that are supposed to take more time, I polish and polish and polish again and the games grow, take more time but it is worth it.

The lower figure for a 1 month game was $1500 and it’s an exception, the lower end of the offers for these games. Unlike the 1 week games, 1+ month games are getting higher offers as market matures.

Conclusion

Take your time, make the best game possible. Sometimes we are aiming for the quick sale of a quick game when everyone would be happier with a bigger, better and more polished one.

If you aim for 1 day or 1 week development, be sure you have some extraordinary but keep in mind that sometimes what we think of our games is far exaggerated when compared to what other people think, and more important, to what portals are willing to pay for it.

February 15, 2009 Posted by | General, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My experience with Flash Game License

From time to time something special happens. Something that can change the face of the world, or at least one specific world. Flash Game License changed the way business is made in the flash market. The idea itself is pretty simple, the implementation is pure genius.

It seems everytime I write about FGL, I have something against it. Let it be written that I don’t have anything against FGL, I am a happy FGL user and I am happy to do business there and pay for it.

But the comments on the last post seem to hit a nerve, one that I didn’t want to be hit. Unfortunately I think that will happen more often because FGL has grown bigger and its creators aren’t close to us as they used to be.

It is pointless to say that it is not so, I feel it personally. Each and everyone of them was at a distance of an email or MSN and it was obvious that they did take the time to help. Their presence in the community forums was refreshing, nowadays they usually appear to address some serious question, raise a discussion about a new feature and say how nice CPMStar or Kindisoft is.

Well… I can understand that and I really don’t take the distance as bad as I would with other people. I also understand that there are more things to attend and so on…

The numbers on FGL show growth, more sales and more money, like Chris stated in the last comment, but the hard truth is that it is more difficult to sell a game on FGL and that I personally rely much more on my business skills than on FGL to sell my games and I’m not alone on this. Many developers spoke with me about how less motivated they are because of lack of attention on FGL. These are developers that have done business there and that know nothing about marketing themselves and their games, therefor they will loose in the battle of FGL listings. How many are there that think this way? I don’t know, I can tell you that all the developers that I speak with complaint more or less in these lines. Why isn’t there any public discussion? I don’t know… but I’ll ask them. 🙂

So if there are developers that feel this way how are numbers growing? In my opinion, if there are more developers and more games there and the percentage of games that make a sale stands, obviously there’s a growth.

Should I present ideas to help with this? After reading Chris’ answer I really don’t feel like it. FGL creators answers to criticism are starting to look as cliches that I really don’t want to argue with. I agree that they have to protect their business, but the most important asset of FGL are the developers, especially quality developers and it really kills me to see FGL becoming more about quantity than about quality. The advertising in the top right corner only holds because of quantity… more developers, more audience, better advertising. It’s like FGL is for developers what portals are to players. The bigger the better. Am I the only one that finds this contradicts the spirit of helping developers?

What I’m hoping is to see a defensive stance, debunking what I’m writing here with statistics and how good FGL is to developers but what I would like to see is a slight change in this trend even if it’s just a simple gesture of understanding what is going on. That, because I really think that FGL is important, would mean the world to me. At least in terms of flash development.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | General | | 5 Comments

Building up reputation and business

Hi all and I’m deeply sorry for my absence. I hope this post excuses me for not updating Flash Truth as much as I would like.

Several developers that know my not-so-alter-ego have approached me asking “how do you do it?” related to my own flash develop business. I also read the Where’s the cash for flash issue on Gamasutra and although I have two drafts waiting for me to finish writing, I decided that this is good enough info and discussion to bring up immediately.

Without further due, let me answer the “how do you do it?” question: Building up reputation and business, which is, for some weird reason is the title of the post.

Part 1: Building Reputation

No business flourishes without reputation and no reputation exists without networking, so, get to know people. The more people you know, the more people you will have available for a specific need.

If you are reading this, you have access to the best networking tool available: the Internet. Get involved in communities like Newgrounds, Mochi or Flash Game License, to access developers. Be helpful and be smart. As you find people with some sort of need you can help, just help and don’t make a fuss about it. When you need help, ask for it.

What about portals?! Some developers look for (and easily find) huge lists of emails and go on an email galore. Don’t do that, it’s annoying and many portals have asked to have their emails off those lists. Many portals however, have an email or submission form to contact them about sponsorship, take your time, do that, submit the game to them and has they answer, you will have a name, a person, a contact, so a bigger network.

If your game is good you’ll have other portals contacting you for licensing, so more names… network…

Your network will start slow and grow. Do not nag people. Be professional, polite. Sooner than you think, you’ll be emailing portals directly, having a friendly developer to help you out with something strange and so on. And that is reputation!

Part 2: Building Business

Well, if you have your network, you have half of your business. The rest is professionalism and quality, both quite difficult to achieve.

There are some really basic things you can do to raise your professional behavior.

First, no email goes unanswered unless you don’t care about that specific person ever. If what you have to say is not pleasant, make it pleasant, but answer. Be polite, clear and as much as possible, short.

Second, being professional means that you will go through some really annoying stuff with a smile. I’ve read several times that developers don’t accept offers from portals because there’s too much paperwork involved. This kind of behavior shows only one thing: the developer is a spoiled brat that doesn’t give a damn about business. There are exceptions *cough* Oberon *cough* but what matters is not really the paperwork but the behavior.

All of this should mean money, right?!

Not really, this means that you have the skills to market yourself and your games. You still have to find multiple income streams and raise the quality of your games constantly. Use this formula: Business + Money = Reputation * Quality.

The Cash for Flash

One last word for the issue at Gamasutra. Basically it serves as advertising for the people mentioned there. Life in the flash market is way more difficult than it looks when you read it. I felt that, even if it wasn’t made with that purpose, smaller developers were being told that they’ll get rich if they do what those developers do and/or if they do it on FGL. Success is not a log on on FGL or an idea for a game. It’s blood, sweat and tears that I think most developers are not willing bleed, sweat and cry.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Monetizing | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments