Pimp My Game Part 4: Newgrounds

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

Newgrounds Logo

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?

Alien Hominid

Awww – Alien Hominid! You can decapitate me ANY DAY!

Submit!

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.

Newgrounds Submission Form

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?

Newgrounds Custom Events

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.

Newgrounds Ark

When in Rome: Two By Two sports a modified Newgrounds logo

The Result

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.

Newgrounds Results

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.

Newgrounds Earnings

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).

The Graph

Pimp My Game Updated Graph

Wow! Seventy whole dollars! (can be read with both amazement AND sarcasm)

Pimp My Game Updated Pie Chart

Mochi rules the pie for another article, with pratically zero movement over at Kongregate

Pimp My Game Hourly Wage

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.

Epilogue

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!

16 thoughts on “Pimp My Game Part 4: Newgrounds

  1. Colm

    I love how advertising money is always sweaty!
    In fairness Newgrounds was never going to enjoy 2×2 now was it. Have you tried putting 2×2 into the ‘wild’ by enabling it for distribution via mochiads? (this may be the source of the above 70 bux) Or trying to sell unique site licenses in flashgamelicense.com’s shop?

    Reply
    1. Ryan

      You’re totally right. You have to know your audience – obviously Newgrounds is a bad fit for Two By Two. But the Pimp My Game series gives all of these sites a fair shake, so i felt compelled to include Newgrounds.

      $68 is from releasing the game through MochiAds’ distribution service – click the Pimp My Game badge in the sidebar to find the MochiAds article. i’ll be covering flashgamelicense in an upcoming article.

      Reply
    1. Ryan

      Thanks, Martin! i’ll probably write about three more using Two By Two: j2play, GameJacket and flashgamelicense. By then, our fun crime-themed puzzle game Kahoots (which we’ve modelled entirely in clay) will launch. We’re targeting try-and-buy casual games portals with Kahoots, as well as the iPhone. i’m considering a second Pimp My Game series where (wherever possible) we share sales stats from that adventure.

      Reply
  2. Richard Davey

    Great article! RSS reader, meet my new friend… You’re absolutely right about the NG community on most levels. There is one upside to NG that you don’t cover here (because you probably never experienced it). But a really large number of the NG visitors actually create content themselves and love animating. Ok so they may be animations about abusing sheep, but it actually had a really nice knock-on effect when we released our Wallace & Gromit games there. They appreciated the animation, the fact it was actually Aardman who created and uploaded the game (and of course the game itself was really good fun). It did really well on there. Loads of reviews, Daily 1st place, front-paged, etc. Thousands and thousands of plays and a really high rating. The game was essentially a “Diner Dash” clone – would you, from what you wrote above, expect a game of that genre to do well on NG? No, of course not. We certainly didn’t either. But it just goes to show that even somewhere as anarchic as NG has a little love to give out.

    I think on that basis Kahoots would actually go down really well there. Of course I hope you don’t do the “free to play” route as we’ve discussed on my blog :) but I do feel you’d have a vastly different experience with that title.

    Reply
    1. Ryan

      Thanks, Richard! When i was reading up on Newgrounds before writing this article, i was surprised to hear about the Aardman games. It smacked to me of the King deigning to slum it and walk among the peasants for a day. There’s a LOT of respect for Aardman out there, though. It doesn’t surprise me that animation enthusiasts (no matter their chosen material) would really go for W&G-themed games. But to be fair, they’d also play Bejewelled if all the gems were replaced with boobies :)

      i’d like to include a link your Kyobi wrap-up on a Pimp My Game links page! There are a few other small devs who have been writing really great stuff about monetizing games. With your blessing, of course …

      Reply
  3. Richard Davey

    Of course, you don’t need my permission to link to content I post in public :) We released onto NG because it’s a good way to get infront of eyeballs. The response from the community shocked us so much that we now release all that we do on there. My point was really that while boobs do appeal to them, so does quality. Kongregate on the other hand .. yoiks. Cleaner content yes, but the kids there make YouTube comments look like bible readings.

    Reply
  4. kris welsh

    the things you described about NG were true to some extent.But i can tell from the way you wrote it, that you only experienced the lower end of the NG social order.

    Reply
    1. Ryan

      Who comprises the Newgrounds upper crust, then? Do they all wear monocles and eat foie gras while discussing James Joyce?

      Reply
  5. Diego

    How can you measure your sucess in a flash game if you haven’t released it on any other platform? I just played your game and I think it has some poor design decisions (sorry). First problem is the net closing when the mouse hits the border… why?? I usually select my files on my pc dragging until I reach the border of the window… Another problem is that with the net being dismanteled all the time, you can never get a decent “flow” of gameplay. The animal AI dismantle the net ALL THE TIME. Game progression: just adding animals wont cut it… Where are the new “net powers”, or special “traps” after each couple of levels? I guess my point was made… please improve your game, and you’ll get better results on any platform. PS: I’m just a gamer, never published anything.

    Reply
  6. Diego

    Oh, and: 1) I loved the graphics! 2) please make the instructions available in game (I had to refresh my browser to read them, after I figured out that I couldn’t understand what to do – I just tried to click on the damn animals XD !) 3) What about a little frase on the bottom of the first level “draw a line around the animals”? That would be great.

    Reply
    1. Ryan

      Diego: i confess, i have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. Are you sure you’re playing the right game? The game i’m talking about is called Two by Two. It’s a Noah’s Ark-themed flip n’ match game mapped to a rotatable cube. The game has animals, but there’s not “net”, and there’s nothing about drawing a line around anything.

      Reply

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