Flash Truth

…about flash gamedev and business

Understanding the flash game space

In my most humble opinion, most developers are clueless about where they stand in the flash game space from a market point of view. This leads to wasted time, bad business and bottom-line: low money. This only applies to developers that want to make a profit from flash games, to all others that live up for their passion, it’s pointless, although, maybe, educative.

Here’s how most developers face business assuming there’s a sponsorship deal for a small game…

1. Developer makes a game in a week;

2. Developer shows game around to get a sponsorship deal, although not full time, it can take two weeks easily;

3. Game is sponsored, let’s say, for $500 and developer takes a couple of days to include sponsor stuff;

4. Developer puts ads on game and distributes it which generally means at least another week;

5. Game spreads and traffic goes to the sponsor thus generating money;

6. Developer gets an average of 15% (from my personal experience) from ads, so an extra $75;

Let’s crunch the numbers…

First and most obvious there’s no such thing as one week games, or one day games, since build to market time is always bigger, but I’ll dedicate a post to that one of these days, but the hard truth is that a one week game can easily be a 22 business days game, meaning, a full month. All of that for $575 if you are lucky. Assuming you work 8 hours a day, that’s a $3,26 per hour rate, which, let’s face it, it’s pretty bad.

And why did this happen? Let’s follow the money now…

1. Developer makes a game;

2. Sponsor picks it and sponsors it for $500;

3. Most sponsors don’t actively spread the game, thus, no distribution costs;

4. Sponsor gets pass-through traffic that will generate around $1 per thousand visits but it isn’t that important;

5. Sponsor gets traffic that sticks from users that register and visit the site and play their games continuously, which can generate a lot of money if the site is good which the large ones are.

6. Advertising networks keep a huge chunk of the money generated.

The Truth

1. Has I have said before, developers have nothing to win from distribution itself. Portals and advertising networks get most of the profit from the plays and the traffic games generate, still, developers are worried about distributing their games like if it was the most important thing of their, second only to sponsorship. In fact, the most important thing is THE GAME! A good game will attract good sponsorship deals, not to mention extra licensing if you are smart.

2. Developers waste too much time, thus loosing money, doing things that will make others win money. Mochi Ads is a class act in this department. They do handle distribution but they do it at a low cost for themselves since they have an established network, which is good for both Mochi and the developer.

3. Smaller portals do make a huge effort to distribute the games they sponsor but most of the bigger ones simply don’t care. And they don’t care because they usually get the high profile games that will, sooner or later, wide spread on the web, usually at the expense of the developer or, if they allow it, Mochi.

Understand where everyone fits and make everyone do their job

1. Developers should make the best game they can. They should also strive to make all necessary arrangements to fit their sponsor and licensing portals needs, which is something I often see developers lacking: professionalism. Developers should not distribute games since game spread is not their income source or investment return.

2. Portals should either spread the game themselves or allow ads on games thus leaving the distribution for the advertising network since both have direct income from game spreading wildly. Using advertising would then be an extra incentive to the developer, not a need, a badly paid one.

3. Advertising networks should be the major spreading force since they are the ones that get the most of it. Most bigger portals already have a considerable user base, thus making licensing more interesting as a model.

4. Bottom line: each part does what it’s profitable for their core business: Developers make games, portals manage content and advertising networks manage advertising inventory.

Wow… this was a big one…

Still there? Ok… What matters here is that there’s a culture of “roles” in the flash game space and it’s the developer that takes the toll. Why? Well, most are naif and the big guns take advantage of it. I’m not saying portals are bad or good or that advertising networks are bad or good, what I’m saying is that the developer is the small guy that can be easily bullied if he acts alone while the herd is following a different direction.

We must rethink all of this, together. Us, portals and ads networks are partners in this, not enemies, so we need to sort our act together so that the market continues to grow based on quality, not a dogmatic approach of how it is handled.

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Advertising Networks, General, Monetizing, Portals | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mochi Ads and Game Jacket CPM 2008 results

Hi and Happy New Year everyone.

This blog is new but there are things to be learnt from 2008. For instance, what keywords people used to get to the blog. The most common keywords were MochiAds, CMPStar and GameJacket.

So, sort of a delayed Christmas present for everyone, here are my stats from Mochi Ads and Game Jacket and my conclusions regarding 2008 results.

CPM rules it all…

Mochi Ads: $0.21 per 1000 game impressions
Game Jacket: $0.54 per 1000 game impressions

I did about $360 from both, mostly from Mochi since I didn’t use Game Jacket early on. What’s interesting to notice is that if I was using Game Jacket mostly, I would have made $925.

…until distribution steps in.

Here’s the underlying problem: Game Jacket distribution SUCKS! While Mochi Ads distribution means an average of 1.000.000 plays per game, Game Jacket distribution means an average of 3.500 plays per game.

Game Jacket argues that the games were released earlier on Mochi Ads, thus jeopardizing their own distribution… I personally believe that Game Jacket makes an effort on only some games, while Mochi’s distribution is pretty much automatic, making it more… democratic lacking a better word.

I will be releasing a game with Game Jacket only soon, so I’ll let you all know how that goes. But right now, with the info I have, I must say that even with a lower CPM, Mochi’s distribution pays for the difference.

It’s still early to say exactly where the benefit is, but I’ll be releasing games with several types of licenses, several distribution patterns and everything will be posted here.

A great 2009 to all flash game developers out there!

January 4, 2009 Posted by | Advertising Networks, Monetizing | Leave a comment

Integrating GameJacket in your game

Hello again. I’ve read a lot of people complaining about the difficulty of integrating GameJacket in their games. I had a lot of problems when I did it the first time, biggest of all was that I assumed it worked just like MochiAds, meaning, it was a preloader. That is the biggest misconception about GameJacket and it’s what causes most of the difficulties developers complaint about. It’s not the technology itself, but rather our understanding of it. So here goes the tech crunch.

How does it work?

GameJacket serves as a wrapper for your game. What this means is that the file GameJacket distributes is not your game, but rather their loader that wraps your game. I don’t know why GameJacket decided to do it this way, but it addresses one of the major problems with other advertising networks: it is pointless to decompile the wrapper because the game itself won’t load without it.

The code that is delivered with the instructions has one and only one objective: to prevent the game from being ran without being called by the wrapper. This is a good thing: it assures you will get the play from wherever the game is. In case you are wondering, there are portals that will decompile your game, rip your logos and advertising code and post it as if it was a non-exclusive license. This prevents it.

So… what about the preloader?

You will have to write your preloader to all games that you want GameJacket to go with, but that shouldn’t be a big deal really, that’s something you should always consider anyway. To make it simple: write your preloader as if you were releasing the game without advertising; insert GameJacket’s classes and code as explained in the documentation; make the success event trigger your preloader graphics and finally make the failure event go to a nice message box that says where people can get a legitimate copy of your game.

The workflow of all this is?…

As I explained, the distribution file is not your game, but rather a wrapper. When it is loaded from a site it will show the ad and when the “Play” button is clicked, it will load your game. When your game is loaded, the code you inserted will confirm if the game was loaded from the wrapper or not. It will either launch a success event, launching your preloader, or a failure event, showing the message you want.

The good: Version control, more difficult to rip your game ads
The bad: Well, we are kind of used to have Mochis preloader

Hope this helps!

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Advertising Networks, Monetizing, Technical | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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