Pimp My Game Part 3: MochiAds

i’m taking Two by Two from the Untold Entertainment library to see how various online monetization methods for Flash games pan out.

Introduction
Part 1: Armor Games
Part 2: Kongregate
Part 3: MochiAds
………./\……….Update: MindJolt

MochiAds


Part 3: MochiAds

First things first: the MochiAds user agreement keeps me from linking to the site or using the service’s logo, both of which i’m doing in spades here. But since the purpose of this article is to review and critique the service, i claim these usages under Canada’s Fair Dealing provision. And with that, we begin.

MochiAds has a very simple premise: embed a few lines of code in your Flash game, and it will pull an ad down from the server into your game. Then MochiAds splits the advertising revenue with you, the game designer. The soon-to-be fabulously wealthy game designer.

You decide where the ads will appear. You can throw them up before gameplay, after gameplay, or during level breaks – or all three, if you’re greedy … or if you’ve only made eighty cents on your game and you need to see your penny proceeds jump into the triple-digits like someone i know. *cough* me *cough*

MochiAds is the subject of many modern Internatz urban legends about making money through game design. Time and again, i’ve heard people say “then you just throw some ads in there, and buhZZAM!! Instant hundreds. That’s why i wanted to put MochiAds to the test, to see if there was any truth to the rumour that it’s a viable way to monetize your Flash games.

The Process

There’s really not much to report on here. As with the Kongregate service, there are really only a few lines of code to integrate before your game is MochiAds-ready. The site requires you to sign up for an account, agree to a big page of legalese (see above), and upload your MochiAds-enabled game to their servers. The idea here, i gather, is that MochiAds becomes your distribution partner by offering its slate of ad-enabled games to website publishers. Publishers can just swing by and grab games to add to their sites, which benefits MochiAds and the game designer. Right?

It benefits both of us, right? Like, we both get something out of it?

Hello?

Giving It Your .001%

It’s at this point in the process that i began to feel like a bit of a tool. In the MochiAds Developer agreement, Mochi reserves the right to change the agreement at any time, and to notify their developers by email (alright), or by posting the change on their website (not alright). i was trying to imagine a world where i’d wake up one morning and think “Hmm … i wonder if the MochiAds agreement has changed today?” And then i visit the website, and voila – MochiAds owns my soul.

Satan

MochiAds is pleased to announce its appointment of Satan to Chief Executive Officer.

The agreement goes on to state:

The net amount of each User Revenue Share shall be determined in Mochi’s sole discretion based on various factors

So let me break this deal down for you: you give MochiAds your game for free. Mochi then throws your game in a zip file for any portal owner to boogie on down and snatch to spice up his site. Mochi earns money from the ads they inject into your game, and you earn … whatever Mochi feels like giving you. Honest – that’s how it works. Mochi also reserves the right not to show its work, obscuring the math that goes into your cut. It amounts to working for someone for free, AND for a bad cause.

Quel deal!, as i imagine the French might someday say.

Dr. Ben Dover

Paging Dr. Dover

Onus vs. Own Us

According to the friendly folks on the MochiAds forums, the best way to really drive revenue from a MochiAds-enabled game is to get it on one of the “big” Flash game portals. There are differing opinions as to which portals belong to this elite group, but your intrepid reporter made sure to submit his game to all of them. The catch here is that certain portals won’t take just any game. In some cases, you have to submit your game to the site and wait for them to approve and post it.

In my mind, this is as demeaning as those logo competitions i hear about, where a firm tries to save money on a graphic designer by offering some paltry amount – usually $500 – for the best logo submission. Of course, i can blow $500 just making the connecting call to my overseas love chat operator (i like it when they say all those sexy words in Dutch), so it’s never been an appealing proposition. Besides – who spends $500 on their permanent corporate identity? Don’t get me started.

Self-awareness check: i do realize that my company logo looks like it was scrawled by a grade schooler doing his science fair project on cooties

Or better yet, submitting your game to these exclusive portals is like begging someone to let you work for them for free, a plea i reserve only for professional monster truck drivers.

Bigfoot Monster Truck

No – seriously. If you’re tired tonight, i can fill in for you at the stadium.

The Result

Unlike my original experiment with Kongregate, i decided to put Two By Two up on the service and let it stew for a while before pronouncing judgment. As of this writing, the game has been on the service for over a month. It’s quick and easy to see the money my game has earned using Mochi’s robust suite of tracking tools, including their draggable line graph, rss feed earnings update, and milestone tracker.

Mochi Ads Earnings

Facetiousness – now in status bar form

For each calendar month that Two By Two has been on the service, i’ve seen 1 penny. At this rate, i can retire when i’m eighty million years old.

The Graph

Let’s take another look at our graph and see how much money the game is earning, shall we?

Pimp My Game updated graph

i could try to make this graph more impressive by dipping to a sub-penny scale(?)

Pimp My Game pie chart

In Mochi’s defense, Kongregate had a one-month head start

Epilogue

There is hope on the horizon. MindJolt Games, one of the elite portals i mentioned, has accepted Two By Two to its service (which, to me, is the equivalent of accepting help from a rescue helicopter when you go mountain climbing and get stuck in a crevasse for four days and are forced to eat your own arms). i hear tell around these here parts that MindJolt’s “New Games” list traffic alone is enough to propel a MochiAds-enabled game into the dollar-earning stratosphere.

Two By Two goes live on MindJolt July 30th 2008.

Keep watching this feature for more info on monetizing your Flash games!

16 thoughts on “Pimp My Game Part 3: MochiAds

  1. Pingback: untoldentertainment.com » Blog Archive » Pimp My Game Part 1: Armor Games

  2. Pingback: untoldentertainment.com » Blog Archive » Pimp My Game Part 2: Kongregate

  3. Bob Ippolito

    I agree with you that parts of our terms of service are stupid, but it’s all standard stuff. We’re in actually quite transparent as far as ad networks go. Please feel free to ask any MochiAds user if we’ve wronged them in any way, you can even do it on our forum. We don’t censor it.

    The reason why your MochiAds-enabled game hasn’t earned any money is because it’s only getting played on your site. You shouldn’t expect to earn more than a penny or two if you keep your game locked up on a URL that nobody knows about! If you want it to get distributed to MochiAds publishers then you have to opt-in for distribution. We don’t do anything without developer permission.

    As far as revenue sharing goes, we give you 50%. We reserve the right to change it at any time (in either direction) which is why there’s no guarantee in the terms of service.

    Reply
  4. Ryan

    Thanks, Bob.

    Some of the other companies playing in this space (Kongregate, GameJacket) go beyond the “standard stuff” by offering their developers a guaranteed rev split, which is why your terms of service had me raising an eyebrow.

    i’m not suggesting that you mistreat your users. i’ll save a lot of these comments for another post, but suffice it to say, it’s a strange business model for devlopers. We eat the cost of development, and then donate our work to sites for free on the gamble that the game will earn money. That amount of money depends on how the game is distributed and how much fun it is to play.

    i’m using this not-so-great game Two By Two to establish a baseline, so that i know i can earn *at least* x dollars on my next outing. But i can’t help but think that if i did develop a fantastic game, i’d be even more reluctant to just throw it out to rev share services like MochiAds for free. What i really want to determine is whether sites like yours are a viable option for developers, or whether there are far better ways to make a buck from Flash. (i strongly suspect the latter, but i’m trying to keep an open mind)

    i didn’t realize that Mochi distribution was opt-in only. i have opted in now, and am happy to add an update to the article after a month to monitor the difference!

    Reply
  5. Dude

    Hey Ryan,

    The one thing you need to realize is that just because you made a game, it is circulated around the internet, and you put mochi ads in it you ARENT going to make a ton of money. Think of the flash gaming world right now. There are 1000s of people putting 1000s of hours into building games. In order for you to make money you need to make a decent (definition relative) game, you have to market the sh*t out of it, and you have to be LUCKY.

    Look at Bloons for example. The game itself isn’t even that great. The graphics are ok and the game play is pretty fun but that’s it. The Bloons guys just happened to get really lucky. They also happened to build a game that allowed them pump out tons of user generated levels and they have their own portal.

    Another analogy is just a plain old internet website. Even if you spent a ton of time building a really amazing website with great information you still may see no traffic. Maybe you even Digg your site and get a decent spike but it just falls off.

    The point is you can’t rely on or blame Mochiads for your success. If you really want to be a successful Flash game developer you need to figure out how the business works. Go check out http://www.flashgamelicense.com/ and get sponsored, build your own portal and make money off of ads around the game, submit your game to kongregate and nonoba, make deals with portals, enter and WIN contests, read some other blogs about monetization http://www.emanueleferonato.com/category/monetize/

    BTW I played your game. I think you should keep up the good work and forge ahead..

    The Dude

    Reply
  6. Bob Ippolito

    Ryan,

    MochiAds doesn’t require any sort of excusivity, so there’s little reason not to give it a try unless you sign away all of the rights to your game. You can always turn it off if you don’t like it for whatever reason.

    The other part of distribution is that you have to upload the file you want us to distribute… :)

    Reply
  7. Ryan

    Thanks, The Dude. Your point is well-made.

    My dirty little secret here is that i actually *am* a successful Flash game developer. i’ve been building Flash games professionally for eight years. Untold Entertainment has been operating for six months, and we’ve already built up a great client base – mostly MMO consulting and work-for-hire projects for television production companies. You’ll see a number of our recent projects appear on our site once the shows start airing in the fall.

    We would love to do some original work, but we’re caught between two extremes. At one end, we can sign a deal with a publisher and place our soft n’ tenders in their hands until the project is over. The fail rate for that kind of venture is enormous, and a number of Toronto studios have shut down because of it.

    At the other end of the spectrum, we could develop a game pro bono and self-distribute, praying that it will catch on. That’s an alright plan for students and gamblers, but for those of us raising families and paying off our gambling debts, it becomes a challenge. i believe that this build-and-hope model benefits players first and portal owners second, leaving developers to scrounge around for table scraps.

    Flash Game License is actually an upcoming installment in the Pimp My Game series. That site gave me the idea for the series in the first place. i won’t spoil the surprise, but you’ll be astounded to hear the kinds of offers people were coming up with on that service.

    There’s got to be a more predictable way to profit from original game development – i just haven’t found it yet. That’s why i’m writing this series. Here in Canada, you’re almost guaranteed to make your money back on a teevee show. Our cable services carry tons of channels, which need tons of content just to fill the space. Once you get a good chunk of your show funded by the Canadian government, you shop it around to international markets, translate/dub it, and see some kind of return. You might not see astounding profits, but you can reasonably expect to recoup the cost of development.

    The nascent Flash game industry hasn’t reached that point yet, but i’ll be poised to pounce when it finally does.

    Reply
  8. Ryan

    Alright – that was quick and painless. i will give it a little time to simmer, and amend the article with my findings. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Dude

    Ryan,

    I didn’t realize you’ve been doing Flash stuff for that long. It sounds like you’re on the right path. I think the secret is to build up that portfolio, distribute your games across every network you can, and just remain patient. Over time your portfolio will speak for itself.

    You should also consider test integrating your games with the social networks (Facebook, Myspace, Bebo).

    Good luck!

    Reply
  10. Ryan

    i have zero experience integrating with social networks, but i’ll be writing an article on J2Play, which is another monetization system that helps with social network distribution of Flash games. It’s another rev share program. i wanted to get MochiAds into the game before i worked with J2Play – there’s no sense in going wide with a product that has no earning potential.

    If you have a lot of experience with the social networks, i’d love to hear more. i’ll welcome you to write a guest entry if you’re up to it. i’d like to make this series as complete as possible.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: untoldentertainment.com » Blog Archive » Pimp My Game Update: Mind the Mindjolt Jolt

  12. lartar

    I make a game, (obvious :P) and i take the same game and put in differentes ads services (i want to try out in ecmp star and newgrounds but im a little lazy)
    MOCHIADS Impressions: 977,845 Earnings: $52.72 eCPM = 0.04
    GAMEJACKET => Total Game Impressions 778889 Total Revenue US$427.16 eCPM = 0.55
    KONGREGATE => Views 4,398 earnings $3.29 eCPM = 0.76
    I have to test it out with newgrounds and cpmstar but the last one dont accept me , so i have to wait to make the real research. Im impressed kongregate has the best eCPM :D
    Let me know your comments… ;)

    Reply
  13. Ryan

    Lartar – thanks so much for sharing these numbers!

    Of course, the eCPM doesn’t matter – if the exposure is really low (as on Kongregate), you’re sunk.

    So here’s the real point of interest to put it into perspective:

    Theoretical earnings: $483.17
    Actual earnings: $427.16 (i’m not including MochiAds and Kongregate, because you haven’t reached the minimum payout threshhold for either service – Mochi is $100 and Kongregate is $25. No idea what GameJacket is yet, but let’s assume that money is good … )

    1. How many hours did you spend developing your game? (i’d like to calculate your hourly wages)
    2. How long has the game been up on these services?
    3. For interest’s sake, can we see the game?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Anshi

    Hi,
    As a publisher of a website for friendly online flashgames I thought I’d try out some Mochi games for my site
    bazboogames.com for a while
    The result: I had about 2-3000 pageviews and I earned $0.00. Nothing, nada.
    Maybe I would get a $0.01 for every 10 000 pageviews maybe? lol who knows
    Mochiads sucks

    Reply
    1. Ryan

      Anshi – MochiAds doesn’t suck. It’s very profitable, apparently … as long as you run a company called Mochimedia.

      Reply

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