i’m taking Two by Two from the Untold Entertainment library to see how various online monetization methods for Flash games pan out.
Part 4: Newgrounds
Newgrounds is an American Flash Portal created by the people, for the people … and by “people”, i mean mostly adolescent boys and similarly-minded men who revel in exploitative content created in Flash. This content includes pornographic, copyright-infringing, gratuitously violent and often morally insensitive (see the site’s various Virginia Tech massacre-inspired content) web games and animations.
The site frustratingly caters to the lowest common denominator, when the site’s founder Tom Fulp has actually turned out a very strong game with Castle Crashers, the sophomore follow-up to Alien Hominid, which was the first Flash game to appear on a major home video game console. i wasn’t such a big fan of Alien Hominid, and was actually pretty surprised that the ESRB would give it a Teen rating, what with all the decapitation. But to each his own, i suppose. Maybe the graphics were just too darn cute?
Awww – Alien Hominid! You can decapitate me ANY DAY!
The Newgrounds submission process is very painless – moreso than MochiAds or Kongregate. You fill out a form with a bunch of options to indicate authorship (the site encourages “collabs” – collaborations between site members), and credits for any audio you’ve used from the site’s audio repository. There’s also a section where you can self-rate your content. This is more in the spirit of reassuring viewers or players of all the dirty stuff they’re going to see, because there are no actual measures taken on the site to caution minors about viewing that content. So kids are free to watch, for example, the Teletubbies parody “Pojo Gets Wit a Ho”, or the action packed “Space Slut Slim”. Ssssuper.
The fact is that most of the Newgrounds content that is inappropriate for minors is actually created by the minors for whom the content is inappropriate.
The site does draw the line at uploading *real* pics of people having sex, a measure which it’s clear to point out is only “due to new laws.” Newgrounds also discourages users from uploading child pornography. It’s good to know that a site that hosts “Dirty C*nt”, “Donkey vs. Bitch”, and “Suicide Can Be Fun” draws that moral line somewhere.
The Newgrounds Submission Form
So when it came to uploading Two By Two to Newgrounds, i didn’t expect much love for a light puzzle game that kicks off – unironically – with a Bible verse, on a site where animated debauchery reigns. In order to actually make money from posting your content to Newgrounds, you have to implement their advertising API. i believe i could have uploaded the MochiAds-enabled version of Two By Two, but Pimp My Game is all about putting different monetization methods through their paces. So off i went.
API API Joy Joy
Integrating the Newgrounds API was very painless in AS3. There are only three lines of code, which you place at the beginning of the movie, and then Bob’s your uncle. (This is to say that once you press the “Submit” button, a man named Robert actually marries your mother’s sister.)
The most time-consuming part of the NG API integration is setting up custom events. These are trigger points that you define on the Newgrounds site and activate with a single line of code for each event. Once these hooks are in, you can visit the site and see a report on how often each custom even was called. (This is all in theory – i never did figure out exactly where on the site i could view the data for these events.)
There are all kinds of things you could conceivably track in your game – anything from “Passed level x with y lives” to “pressed the Quit button during level x”. It’s all stuff that can help you to better understand the users’ experience with your game. For example, if you realize that 50% of your players are running out of time and dying in level two, perhaps you can re-jig level two and update the game?
Our custom events for Two By Two mostly tracked whether people actually tried the “Hard” difficulty mode before complaining in the reviews that the game was too easy :)
The Newgrounds custom events are a nice idea, but if you’re going to pimp your game, you’re better off tracking events with a third party – Google Analytics, for example. That way, it won’t matter where your game is hosted – you can track events from anywhere on the Internatz. As you’ll see during our numbers round-up below, the time i spent setting up these custom events was not worth the exposure i received on Newgrounds.
The final step to rigging up your game with Newgrounds ads is to pass staff approval, where i assume a real live person scans your game for content that miscellaneous advertisers may not enjoy (ie “Tits in the Forest” or “Murder the Government”, both currently playing on Newgrounds.) A Newgrounds inspector apparently gave Two By Two the thumbs-up.
When in Rome: Two By Two sports a modified Newgrounds logo
i’ve given Newgrounds more time than any other featured Pimp My Game monetization method. The game was uploaded in on December 21st 2008, and the date stamp on this article puts us near the end of April – a full four months to let the masses pour over the game and bathe it in hot sweaty ad rev-share cash.
Uh … are those results using the metric system?
597 plays, with an average score of 2.75/5.00. 38% of players rated the game. It’s worthwhile to note that all of these numbers were charted within the first three days of the game appearing on the site; the game has since dropped completely out of view, and has experienced four solid months of complete radio silence. One way to get extra love for your game on Newgrounds is to promote it within the site forums. But frankly, i’m above baselessly begging people to play Two By Two and talking about it ad nauseum to other people on the Internatz. Wink.
The game garnered three written reviews, which i repost here for your spiritual edification:
Score: 10 “Good!” Great game man , this one is going in my favs!
Score: 5 “Meh.” its not too great and very boring
Score: 3 “Only one level???” To be quite honest I thought this game was weak. I aint being harsh on you but puzzle games are not something that attracts alot of people unless it is very good and unique…. but overall this game is not that great. I am sorry for sounding very harsh but this aint gnna do well.
i assume this is some kind of graph, but i don’t have any data to prove my theory.
i’m not sure why, even with a meagre 500-odd plays, there were zero ad impressions for the game. Does the Newgrounds API even work? Do the Custom Events work? Are we using any of this stuff properly? Maybe Tom can pop on here and explain.
Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the overall numbers for Two By Two which, thanks entirely to MochiAds, have climbed steadily (and pathetically).
Wow! Seventy whole dollars! (can be read with both amazement AND sarcasm)
Mochi rules the pie for another article, with pratically zero movement over at Kongregate
Wow! I bet sweat shop workers don’t even earn that! Not in the really crummy sweat shops, anyway…
With its forty hour TOJam development period, Two By Two has earned me an hourly wage of 56 cents – not counting the hours spent integrating APIs, creating thumbnails for each portal and uploading the game to their exacting and non-standardized standards.
Keep in mind that this is seventy virtual dollars that i’ve earned. Each different site has a payout cap – MochiAds doesn’t pay until you hit $100. So although my readers in Bangladesh must be idolizing me for the amazing wad of cash they imagine i’m rolling around in, bear in mind that i haven’t seen a penny of actual money yet. The MochiAds numbers come in at around $0.30/day … by my calculations, i should see a cheque from them after Tuesday August 4th of this year, roughly foour months from now.
Newgrounds is a site that caters mostly to young boys gettin’ their kicks, with tits n’ guns as their favourite subject matter. Kids’ shows are a favourite target; a conspicuous amount of the Newgrounds games and animations are of the “Kill Barney” variety. This is likely a rite of passage for the age group – putting aside childish things and adopting more “mature” forms of entertainment which include sex and violence. This denouncement of kid content is carried out very literally by having a character violently murder Elmo, or sodomize Thomas the Tank Engine.
It’s not my world. i don’t need to assert my adulthood by creating or watching this kind of content. i get all the sex and violence i need at home: first, by having sex with my wife and creating children, and second, by having said children stomp on my scrotum during independent play time. i need money to feed that family, and to pay for our mortgage, and to afford ice packs to soothe my swooning groin. That’s what Pimp My Game is all about – determining whether i can generate respectable income making original games.
i don’t have time to sit around designing a 7-part animated series about action heroes raping beloved childhood icons. The rewards on Newgrounds are community “glory” and no actual profit.
Newgrounds is not for me. And i’m not even sure it’s a decent also-ran in our growing list of monetization schemes. It’s a portal where content of a certain ilk will get noticed and talked about, while the creators of sanitized casual games should save their efforts for other sites.
Keep watching this feature for more info on monetizing your Flash games! If you missed the other articles, catch the rest of Pimp My Game here!