Flash Truth

…about flash gamedev and business

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.

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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

My expectations for 2009

I think that 2009 will bring some movement to the flash game market. Some are good, some are bad.

The quality of flash games is growing. This trend was easily spoted in 2008 and I believe that the bar will keep rising. Portals such as Kongregate and services (or dare I say “The Service”) offered by the Flash Game License crew really pointed many developers the right way: Quality over Quantity.

Although this is good news, it can also be the beginning of the end of money making hobby developers. It was easy to notice that quality developers are becoming full professional game development companies while existing game development companies make their way to the flash market.

What does this mean? Will we have publishers? Thus killing the flash game development risky and yet wonderful game design? Will we have more and more exclusive content to the established portals making the traffic wars less sponsor based and more content based? Will there be any other portal with a view for the midcore market?

Will see…

January 15, 2009 Posted by | General, Portals | , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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