Video game industry mag Gamasutra has published an article called Where’s the Cash for Flash?. Through a smattering of interviews with successful indie Flash game devs, the article propagates the myth that Flash game development is profitable.
Pictured here, a highly profitable Flash game, which many anthropologists deem to be a hoax.
The nice bit is that they include actual numbers, which makes it easy to expose the supposedly booming industry for the sham it is. Here is the total revenue for Dino Run by PixelJam Games:
Bottom line: The three revenue streams [donations, advertising and licensing] have brought in approximately $40,000 for seven months’ work with more still trickling in.
It sounds alright, until you consider that PixelJam supports two guys who quit their day job, who spent seven months making Dino Run. Let’s ask our friends Logic and Mathematics how the fellas are doing.
- $40k divided by 2 developers = $20k per developer
- $20k divided by 7 months = $2857.14 per developer per month
- multiply that by 12 months for a $34285.68 gross base salary
- assume around 262 working days per year at 8 hours a day, and that’s $16.35/hr
- chip off 15% for federal income tax here in Canada, for example (not to mention provincial sales tax), and your $35k annual take is whittled down to $29k
Depending on where you live, $16/hr may sound like a decent living wage. It could buy you a comfortable ice palace in Antarctica, with a wait staff of affable penguins to help you keep the place tidy. But here in Toronto, it’s piddly. You’ll find yourself renting a 500 square foot apartment in a dodgy neighbourhood, eating cold beans out of a can with a spoon. You’re one bounced cheque away from living in a van down by the river.
Matt Foley would have taken up Flash game development, if it didn’t amount to JACK SQUAAAT!!!
Commenter (and Flash game developer) Tõnu Paldra hits the nail on the head with this comment, which deserves to be quoted in its entirety:
While this is well written article, I have a feeling that by focusing on few extremely successful developers it may give pretty skewed image of Flash game markets. There are thousands of game made every month, thousands of developers all hoping to make the next big hit. Yes, many of those games are not even very good but there are countless examples of really good games that practically do not gain any money. Because the Flash games are so easy to make, so many people are jumping in and trying it out and when they dont get sums mentioned in article, Im afraid they may feel cheated.
Its like writing a article about music business featuring Madonna, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. The theme: look, you can make money with music! Yes, thats true but honestly, how many artists in reality are gaining such mountains of cash?
That’s right. Readers may be disappointed when they fail to pull in as much as $16/hr for their hard work and effort. i should say so.
The average freelance rate for Flash work here in Toronto is between $50 and $75/hr. Studio rates can range from $35-$150/hr depending on the experience and availability of the team. $16 is what you earn when you’re promoted to shift supervisor at Burger Picker.
If the people we hold up as our Flash game success stories are pulling down the same wage as a department store shoe clerk nearing retirement, we need to reconsider our definition of “success”. Until i hear otherwise, and as long as my own experiments prove entirely fruitless, i’m confident in writing off original Flash game development as an increasingly losing game.