It’s a great day and time to be an independant game developer. There’s a player and developer backlash against the antiquated notion that you need a team of hundreds, a budget of millions, and a timeline of years to create a video game. As the audience for electronic gaming widens, more and more players are satisfied with smaller, faster, and more focussed games that scratch the entertainment itch just as well as a $400 game console and a $80 special edition new release of the hot new game, Totally Shoot Things in 3D.
But while the teams behind Totally Drive Cars in 3D and Totally Murder Hookers in 3D stand to win back their investment and then some in high sales numbers, what’s the best that an indie or casual game developer can hope for? Day by day, there are more and more opportunities for independant developers to monetize their games. In this series, i’ll be taking one of our own games and running it through the setup process for every monetization plan i can think of, to generate some real data on how effective these various methods actually are.
i knew this guy who had a game …
Monetizing online properties takes on a bit of an urban legend stink when you hear about So-And-So who threw Google Ads on his page and bought a Bentley with the cash, and so on. i’m anxious to try out these various monetization methods to see what actually sticks, and what’s not worth your time.
It’s all about the Bordens
The Lovely Lady
During this experiment, i’ll be pimping out Two By Two, a game i created in 2007 at TOJam 2. The game was built in a single weekend, top to bottom, and the quality definitely reflects that. It’s a simple flip n’ match game mapped to a cube. The graphics are simple, the sound is simple, and there are three gameplay modes: Easy, Normal and Hard. Simple! The game won’t win any awards, but it’s a harmless little distraction.
Click to play Two by Two
Keep an eye on this graph, which shows how much money i’ve made pimping out Two By Two:
Growth is a little flat at the moment, but we’re optimistic
This is a list of the various Flash game monetization methods i know of:
This is a website hailing itself as “the Youtube of video games”. Upload your game to the site to participate in their revenue share split – as the developer, you earn a portion of the advertisting money. Kongregate also has weekly and monthly contests to attract new games on a regular basis. The site offers a bigger portion of the revenue pie to developers who integrate their more “hooky” features like high scores and statistics, as well as making your game exclusive to their site.
The new kid in the block, J2Play is the brain child of a group of computer science students from the University of Waterloo here in Canada. J2Play takes the Kongregate model to social networks, embedding submitted games in a chatroom wrapper and enabling play on sites like MySpace and Facebook, as well as other popular social networking sites in non-English speaking countries that you may not be aware of. The model is, again, a rev share split from ad revenue.
Home to the proverbial “15 year old in his basement”, Newgrounds hosts some of the most peurile and deplorable Flash content on the Internet, a reflection of its largely adolescent userbase. The site’s claim to fame is that one of its titles, Alien Hominid, was the first ever Flash-to-game console crossover product. Newgrounds recently released an API to serve ads inside your game, so i’m going to give it a try and report the results.
Integrate the MochiAds service into your game, and the site will serve ads into your product. You have to take care of the distribution yourself, but the idea is that the farther and wider you pimp out your game, the more people will play it and see the ads. Garner the most eyeballs possible to maximize your cut of the ad revenue. MochiAds is the prime source of bogus stories like “There’s this guy? And he has a game? And he put MochiAds on it? And then he made enough money to eat thousand dollar bills for every meal. Until he died, which was very soon because you can’t survive by eating paper.”
In this series, i’ll inject MochiAds into Two by Two, send it off to a bunch of portals, and report back on the actual revenue potential of the service.
Flash Game License
The idea here is that you can post your game to the site and it stays behind their membership wall. Portal owners can sign up to view the games and offer money for them. If you accept a deal through the site, it’s up to you how much money to kick back to the Flash Game License site owners.
Second only to Newgrounds in terms of dodgy content, but tops in my book because they’re owned by a company who should know better (MTV/Viacom), Addicting Games decides whether to sponsor games on a case-by-case basis. The amount of money they’re willing to kick to your product is determined by their moderators.
Armor Games is another Flash portal that will sponsor games on a case-by-case basis, with a game’s worth being determined by the site’s moderators. The site owners appear to be very efficient at pimping out games themselves; the Armor Games splash screen seems to pop up in every conceivable corner of the Internatz.
That’s a good start
We’ll start there. There are plenty of other sites where indies can make a few bucks on their games. If there are any sites or monetization methods you’d like to see reviewed in this series, please post a comment and let me know.
If my findings differ dramatically from your experience pimping out your own games, speak up! By the end of this series, i’m hoping to have an accurate overview of the current state of affairs for independant online game developers.
My best guess is that Two by Two will earn a few hundred bucks at most, making these monetization methods appealing for the 15-year-old hobbyist, or for someone hoping to break into the industry, but i doubt we’ll see enough cashflow to support the American Dream, which consists of a house in the burbs with two cars, two kids, and a dog named Petey … let alone the Canadian Dream, which is characterized by four canoes, steel-framed fur traps and free caribou rides around the igloo.