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Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar More Detail Thu 6th May 2010 10:19pm

Category: Business

I wrote the other news post this morning when I probably wasn't in a very clear state of mind and I was more stressed than I am now, so I'm writing this other one to better explain the situation.

There are a few ways that Flash games can potentially make money. These include:

1. Sponsorship.
What 'sponsorship' means is that a portal site, like Kongregate or ArmorGames or whatever, pays the developer, me, to basically put their branding on it; their logo and links to their site. They do this because when the game is distributed, people may click on the links and come to their site, where they may become regular members of their site or click on the adverts on their site. Sponsorship like this generally involves paying the developer a lump sum based on how much the game seems like it's worth... or rather, how likely it seems to bring in hits for the sponsor.
The types of sponsorship deals differ, but generally you stick with one sponsor and can't have MORE than one (since they're all competitors), UNLESS you go with a 'primary sponsorship deal' where the game in most places has your main sponsor's branding, but some sites can pay you to change the branding to that site's so then traffic won't be redirected to one of their competitors.
The price that sponsors pay differs wildly. Some simple Flash games that won't perform well might get $100 or something, while the big-end games may get up to $10,000 or something (I don't know if any go above this).

2. In-game adverts.
These are the things like MochiAds, that appear as the game is loading, or sometimes within the game itself. They make the developer money every time players click on the adverts, I think. Though they're seen by millions of people and as such get a high amount of *views*, the clickthrough rate is generally abysmal and it's very rare to make $100 for a million views using adverts. The earnings from them could be described as 'pennies'.

3. Optional Premium Content.
This seems to be a new concept that I haven't seen much of since I don't play Flash games as much as I should... but basically it involves in-game APIs where you can use real money to buy items. MochiCoins is an example; I can't remember what the others are called.
You buy the Coins using the real money, then use these Coins in multiple different games. They're generally used for unlocking things like new levels, optional weapons, etc.
The profits from these seem better than the adverts, but it can lead to players complaining since they feel 'ripped off'. I think the earnings are in the area of $1000 for a million views for a good game; not high, but not 'nothing' either.

4. Demo and Full Version For Sale.
This is what I mentioned in the last news post, I think. It involves releasing a demo to various portals which links to the full version on the sponsor or developer site, and you have to pay a one-time fee to play it.
It's supposedly the most profitable, but can easily enrage fans, it seems.


I've worked on MARDEK 3 for a long time, and really want that time and effort to count for something. I won't be satisfied with mere pennies from this, since I do sort of want to make Flash development a career that can support me financially. I intend to make other projects like Beast Signer and FHO more profitable using the premium content option (buying optional stuff), but I don't know what will work best for MARDEK.

I can either earn more money, potentially, and lose fans, or I can keep fans and gain new ones but earn 'barely any' money. Hmm.
I'm still trying to work out a happy medium that will help me keep fans AND earn money.

Premium content might be the way to go... I can make certain quests something you have to pay for, maybe, though I'd have to plan what to make for sale.
This seems like a decent compromise since players would be able to get to the end of the story, but I think it could work too much in favour of the players... I can't help but feel frustrated when people suggest things that would make them be able to take without giving, while I go essentially broke or have to settle for pennies... It just doesn't seem fair! And things like this seem like nobody would really PAY for them, whereas I can imagine more people paying for a 'full version'... Hmm.


Anyway, the filesize is still an issue, apparently, BUT I'll solve that problem with help from people who know what they're talking about, on a special developer forum thing that I'm part of.
I've spent basically all day repeating myself to people, dismissing the following suggestions:

* "You should split up the game!"
I can't do this because MARDEK 3 isn't linear. It starts off with three inter-connected dungeons which you can't leave until you've finished them all; this would serve as a nice demo. However, once you get out, the game involves a lot of travelling between areas, back and forth, going to lots of old areas as well as new ones on various quests. There are no points where I could make a clean cut, and even if I did, much of the music would need to be in ALL the parts anyway.

* "Remove some of the music!"
I feel that the music is the most important part of MARDEK. I composed each track with care, taking hours, or days to do each one and often having to try two or three or more times just to get it *just right*. To suggest that I could merely cut some out and put others where they were never meant to go as if they're all interchangeable bland stolen music loops is sort of upsetting, in a way, since I really do think the music is such an important part of the experience...
And besides, the game as it is is about 19MB, and 10MB is the sort of maximum limit thing. The game is about 7-8MB with NO music, and there are about 73 tracks; I'd have to remove the *majority* of the music to get it under 10MB.
This is a reason why I thought the demo might be best; it's basically the only way I could get the size under 10MB.

(I'm sure there were more, but my mind's blank right now... If I remember them, I'll add them!)

--
EDIT: Why filesize is an issue...
Most Flash games are small things that can be loaded and played quickly in a short break, designed for a casual audience. Because of this, filesizes are generally small; people don't want to wait for them. There are limits on the maximum filesize that some portals allow, because of bandwidth issues as well as this patience factor.
Apparently the bidding site that I want to upload MARDEK 3 to for sponsors to look at has an upload limit of 10MB; MARDEK 3 is 19MB. I can't upload it to the site in its current form, and when asking in the site's forum for how to get around this restriction, other issues were mentioned by other developers there, like how some sponsors won't want a file so big because lack of patience and smaller portals' filesize limits would prevent the game getting much in the way of distribution, losing them clickthroughs.
--

This whole sponsorship process is going far less smoothly than I'd hoped... I just hope that I can get the game out *at all* though.
But whatever I do, if people just pirate the paid content, if there is any, then I don't see why I should bother making MARDEK 4. What'd be the point? If I'd not make enough money from it, it wouldn't be worth the time and effort.
The success of this game will determine whether I should continue the series.


Also, an edit: I'm going to describe some stats about MARDEK 3 and what would be in the 'demo' if I released it.
The 'demo' would probably include the first three dungeons, which would take maybe two or three hours to get through. In them, you'd get to play as five player characters, visit a town, fight several bosses, one with unique music... It'd give you a good idea of what the full game would be like.
If you chose to purchase it, you'd be able to get at least 10 player characters on your party with a range of unique abilities each, there'd be over a dozen dungeons (I'm not sure of an exact figure, since it'd depend on what you'd classify as a 'dungeon'), 73 music tracks, two secret bosses, the first two chapters would be included... In a playthrough by myself where I try to get everything, starting from chapter 1 and going to the end of chapter 3, it takes me about 45 hours. And I know where everything is!
There's a lot of replayability too, since you can use different party combinations (you can change who's on your party very easily).
There are hundreds of items, loads of abilities, LOADS of dialogue and a lot of it's secret... Quite a few side quests.
It's a huge game, anyway; I'm certain you'd find it worth your money, however much it cost.

ANOTHER EDIT:
Something that I could potentially do is have the demo/full version thing, but rather than having a fixed price like $15, I could have a 'pay what you think the game is worth!' thing, perhaps having a minimum of $1. It's easy to think that everyone would just pay the minimum, but you may be amazed to know that some people are generous even when not forced to be, and things like this might encourage such generosity purely because of a psychological choice.
I know of one Flash game that did this, and got average payments of about $7, with some going as high as $500. People who have a lot of money to spare donate a lot for encouragement and out of appreciation, it seems.
What do you think of this idea? Is it still objectionable?

YET ANOTHER EDIT:
Something I'd also like to include in the 'full version' deal is a walkthrough thing with 'developer commentary'... Basically, it'd be a simple walkthrough telling you where to go in the game (but not where each chest is or anything like that), and a load of rambling writing about my inspirations for MARDEK and what I wanted to do with the game, where I want to go with the series, etc. I'd also write long descriptions of what inspired me to come up with certain characters, what their purpose is, aspects of their history that might not be in the game, etc. People may find this interesting if they like reading things like the Encyclopaedia.

I'd also want to sell the soundtrack in the same way that the first two are sold now, but separately; it too would be a 'pay what you like' thing so you could pay a dollar for the game and another for the soundtrack if you wanted, maybe, or you could give $30 for both if you thought they were worth that to you...

Oh, and another thing: Since I'm aware that a lot of people would have to go through their parents for payment, I'd take the care to write a page for parents to read, which you could direct them to, explaining who I am and what they'd be paying for, and why it was all secure and everything. I know that many would be stubborn and set in their ways and therefore wouldn't TRUST what I wrote, but it might help reassure some just to not be in the dark.
167 comments

 

167 Commentson 89 roots

Silavong`s Avatar
Rating Orb Silavong 20 United States CholericSanguine 31C 12F
7 years ago | (0)
how bout you start getting more fans and in futures you can do something to earn money and get more money cause you got even more fans before whatcha think just ah pm me or something
SOULSTEALER123`s Avatar
Rating Orb SOULSTEALER123 13 United States 6C 1F
7 years ago | (0)
I myself think that you should have a full game aand then an expansion pack. this would allow people to play your game and have fun but also allow people who want extra quest or items to still get what they want. For the full game you should have a pay what you want type of payment and then the expansion pack for like 5-7 dollars.
SomeRandomNick`s Avatar
Rating Orb SomeRandomNick 16 Iceland SanguineMelancholic 8C 1F
7 years ago | (0)
Number 1 is not a SOOO great idea, as you`ll be paid only one time (I think), number 2 is the best option, because many people click unintentionally (LIKE ME) and some guys from here could help you just by clicking for... fun ;).
The third one is good if you "sell" the items for a low price, and number 4 will just work if you sell the games in packs [Episode 1,2, 3 and 4; episode 5,6 and 7; finally the 8 and 9 (THAT COULD BE THE LONGEST, INVOLVING PAST AND MARDEK`S FATHER)].
SomeRandomNick`s Avatar
Rating Orb SomeRandomNick 16 Iceland SanguineMelancholic 8C 1F
7 years ago | (0)
I`ve just realized that an "edit" button comes always in handy
JAndyP`s Avatar
Rating Orb JAndyP 22 Switzerland MelancholicSanguine 90C 4F
7 years ago | (0)
Hey Pseudo, how are chances that I'd get a CD sent (printed with some fighunter/mardek pic maybe?) if I was willing to pay around £49 / $72? That's about what I paid for store-bought games in the past.

A CD would make it like a store-bought game since I could easily re-install it in case I have/want to swipe the harddisk clean.
Now you might say I can just burn a CD, but that's not the same as it would look like any other burnt CD -> endless searching

Since Mardek 3 will be so awesome I might very well go up with the price some more.

I wonder if others would be interested in this idea as well.
golden dragon`s Avatar
Rating Orb golden dragon 25 United States MelancholicPhlegmatic 1C 0F
7 years ago | (4)
I'll give my 5 cents.
I should caution readers though, the first part will be nice, the second part....kinda not....

I like the idea of "paying how much you think it's worth".
You're not the first to think about it. The famous Adam Phillips did it too for flash tutorials. (Maybe he still does?)

Also, I should tell you that money does not only come from the game. It also comes from Merchandise! XD
Haven't we learned from Star Wars, hehehe...Well there could be official mardek t-shirts, mugs, wall-papers, printables, stickers, etc.

Now for my idea, sell ONLY Ch.3 for $1 on the "pay its worth" on your site with ALL the 19MBs of your glory. This will be the best gauge of how many people have the capacity to buy the game.
It will also test the idea of someone actually pirating a $1 game! (lol if it happens)

As for the people that "Don't know how to buy things on the internet". Here's a simple old school way.
Mail one letter with $ inside to Pseudo's address (a safe address for Pseudo). Then, Pseudo mails a CD with CH 1, 2, & 3 to the return address. No internet required, just a mailbox.
But since most kids don't know how to mail a letter (because of the internet) I recommend a sample envelope on this website with all the info filled out on the front.
Just as a side note, don't start mailing out games until you get all the bugs sorted out. There are always bugs somewhere. So I recommend waiting a while after release.

Also, I recommend the price be $5 (I actually haven't mailed to England though...) for mailing fees + CD. And its STILL cheaper than one meal in the U.S. How can a teenager not get $5? Mow a lawn or something!

IF sales are not as good, then (hope nobody gets angry) don't release it....especially if it is the final chapter.
UNTIL you finish the complete game, I recommend holding onto it until you get some game company to buy your game.
Your ch 1 & 2 speak for themselves as demo's. Just finish the product, keep it safely locked away,continue advertising for it, and somewhere down the road a company will want to buy the game. You would continue making games and such to increase your credibility until it's sold naturally anyway.
It sounds like betraying your fans, but that's business. If people wouldn't spend $1 or $5 for the game so far, they won't spend much for the whole game. (Still depending on the outcome of purchases for Ch. 3)

2nd Side note: The only flash games I know that were bought were Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers from newgrounds...maybe you could ask how they did it?
Pseudolonewolf`s Avatar
Rating Orb A β Pseudolonewolf 23 United Kingdom MelancholicPhlegmatic 2257C 559F
7 years ago | (3)
Flash games don't work that way and are never 'bought' by 'game companies'.
Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers were originally Flash games made by Tom Fulp, the founder of Newground, and other people, a game team that called themselves 'Behemoth', I think it was. They spent years completely recoding the games to go on consoles; they didn't just port Flash games. And they were able to do it because they had the money and connections (being the owner of one of the biggest and well-known Flash portals in the world, for example).
'Finishing the game' - all *eight* chapters of it - would take years anyway, and without feedback for each part of it, I'd completely lose the motivation to go on.

Also, sending payment in the post/'mail' wouldn't really work for me, because I'd get loads of American currency and that'd cost a bit to covert over to something useful to me; it's just not worth the time, effort and costs. If people couldn't find a way to send money online, then I think that they're not sufficiently up-to-date with how the current world works. They need to adapt at some point.
psiros`s Avatar
Rating Orb psiros 25 Lithuania 2C 0F
7 years ago | (5)
Hello
I wanted to share my idea if something like it was posted before I'm sorry for not finding it.
You say file size makes a problem with sponsorship when how about this You give full version to the Highest biding sponsor and for other sites just a demo with a link in the end of it to full version on sponsor site this might get U the money You want and kep the game free like before.
Zuriki`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zuriki 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 234C 84F
7 years ago | (5)
That doesn't make sense. If NO SPONSOR will pay for the full game because it's too big, how do you expect him to get it sponsored at all.
vinnie879`s Avatar
Rating Orb vinnie879 19 Netherlands MelancholicCholeric 79C 0F
7 years ago | (6)
pseudo, firstly, hi

secondly, I suggest u check out www.arcadetown.com because there almost all the games can be bought and its full of demo's it sound like you want to do the exact same thing, maybe it can be the way you are looking for

finnaly, well there is no finally so, uhm.......

bye
Zuriki`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zuriki 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 234C 84F
7 years ago | (6)
Hello, although I don't visit this site much anymore, I doubt you'll have forgotten your ol' pal Zuriki :)

I'm saddened to hear that technical issues have set you back in terms of sponsorship - however I see this could be greatly beneficial to you! Now for the hows and whys:
- Offline mode, having the game as a standalone downloadable EXE file, you can distribute it and people can take it with them on a USB stick etc without worrying about site-blockers at school and work etc. This is a good plus for you.

- Limitlessness, you no longer have to constrain your filesize too much, this means that the music you have can even be better quality and it wouldn't matter because it's a one-time download in most cases.

- More "professional" appearance, EXEs always look more pro than embedded flash objects!

That's some of the superficial benefits. Now in terms of making money - depending on how sponsorships work I would talk to a few and ask if free-demos are okay with them and you don't owe them money in terms of how much advertisement the game gets. If they accept to host/sponsor it without any referral fees, fantastic. Otherwise don't bother getting sponsored at all - you'll still get equal advertisement unsponsored, you just don't get at little bit extra in terms of ad revenue. "Pay what you want" thing is a great idea, however - on average when spread amongst everyone you're likely to see very low payments since you're an unknown face. People tend to pay for the label even with indie games. Weird I know but true nonetheless. I recommend you start selling the game at $5 a pop. If you keep low-quality sounds in game, then do a double-pack for 25% off where you include the sound-track (HQ) with the full-game.

Personally, as much as I love Mardek, I wouldn't pay $15 for and I'm not a cheapo either. The highest I would go is $10 depending on the length of the game - if I can easily get a good 20h+ out of it I might be tempted to pay that extra $5... maybe...

If you really want to milk it, I'd get working on a little expansion piece. It's a shame how flash will really limit your plugin capabilities but if you patch the game after the expansion so that it can perhaps receive extra data from external SWF sources, perhaps you can do some addons and expansions. Just means coding the plugin system and also it weakens the defence against decompiling.

If you really want to I would be more than happy to make post-edits to the EXE to remove the rightclick menu completely, change the title-bar name and even embed an icon into the EXE if you'd like - making it appear less and less like a flash game and more and more like a "professional" classic-RPG.

My comment is getting really large and I'm not sure you'll even read it, so I'll end it here. If you respond I'll answer and extend anything I think of.
JAndyP`s Avatar
Rating Orb JAndyP 22 Switzerland MelancholicSanguine 90C 4F
7 years ago | (1)
Generally the ideas in your post are very much to my liking. BUT: Not everyone uses Windows! I use Linux for example, others are sitting in front of Mac computers.
Zuriki`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zuriki 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 234C 84F
7 years ago | (1)
There is support for Linux and Mac too, Flash is cross platform, I used EXE as it is the general term for an executable file, flash provides another format for macs as for Linux, I'm not entirely sure how it's done but it can be done (Samorost 2 did it) I'll look into it and add another reply when I find out what it is.
aturtledoesbite`s Avatar
Rating Orb aturtledoesbite 15 United States PhlegmaticMelancholic 132C 35F
7 years ago | (0)
There is a problem with your EXE idea, though. Since it can be easily downloaded, it can be easily copied, meaning Pseudo gets no money from anyone who knows how to use Google.
Zuriki`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zuriki 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 234C 84F
7 years ago | (0)
DRM! Lol as can SWFs, so it makes no difference really.
1 Reply
Jahws`s Avatar
Rating Orb Jahws 24 United States CholericMelancholic 21C 30F
7 years ago | (6)
I'm not sure how possible this is, but there are some freeware games out there that release their soundtracks separately from the game. That way, when dealing with bandwidth or file size issues, you could have the reduced music set for the game. Then, you'd have a giant screen or something like, "Hey! Want the full soundtrack? Download this zip file and tell me the path!" after which it would load the full set of music. That would reduce the size for them to host, and would also allow your full soundtrack to be usable.

Your games are definitely of the quality that I would pay for, but at the same time, I realize I'm of the age where I don't have someone restricting me from doing so.

Hmm... Here's a fun thought...

Let's say you've got 4 optional side quests in the game, all of which yield very useful items for Mardek 4+. Perhaps charge for each one after the first. This way, random players can technically still play the whole game - the problem is that they can't have all the cool stuff in the same game. That privilege = kreds or whatnot. One way, if they really want to see everything, they play it multiple times and get more thoroughly hooked. The other way, you get money for those who want the convenience of only having to play through one time to collect everything.

Of course, you'd probably want to have some global marker so that once people have paid for the unlockables once, they don't have to do so again.

A potential plus on sponsorships - they can only get everything unlocked simultaneously with real-world money on the sponsor's site.

Now, I realize I'm kind of just rambling here, and I don't own an online Flash gaming site or anything. These are just thoughts, so take them with a grain of salt or whatever else you'd prefer.
Squirrel`s Avatar
Rating Orb Squirrel 18 United States MelancholicCholeric 26C 0F
7 years ago | (5)
Just out of curiosity, when you mention potential profits, are you talking about American dollars or British pounds? I am ignorant as too whether the “$” sign applies to both currencies or if it applies solely to American dollars. I only know that pounds are worth (quite a bit) more than dollars. (If this is explained in the mountain of previous posts, I apologize.)

As to what I think of paying for Mardek 3?
When first read that we may have to pay actual money to play Mardek 3, I was a little upset. The upsetting part had had much less to do with ability to pay than it had to do with paying for an online flash game at all. I love flash games, but I’ve rarely played one that I buy in a store. It would seem ridiculous: why not just buy a professional game?

Then I read on- and my mind was set at ease. Seeing Pseudo say “In a playthrough by myself where I try to get everything, starting from chapter 1 and going to the end of chapter 3, it takes me about 45 hours. And I know where everything is!” made me think about just how grand Mardek 3 is. Even allowing to take off ten hours for the first two chapters (which is probably too much, Pseudo doesn’t have to take time to figure things out as he mentioned) the game would be 35 hours long. For Pseudo. Recently I have been replaying Final Fantasy II (or IV, to be correct. Why did they bother labeling it II for America?) for the Super Nintendo. I am almost to the end of the game (my save is just before the boss of the second-to-last dungeon and I completed all available side quests, found all the hidden areas, and leveled up my team to an average of 53, by which point the characters are absurdly powerful and almost all spells are unlocked. The only spell that I don’t have is Meteor for Rydia, and I’m not entirely sure she can learn Meteor. If that is the case, all potential spells are unlocked. Basically, I could finish in two or three hours and have completed everything). The game says I have spent 31 hours and 28 minutes so far. I know fell asleep for a few of those hours too. In the end, Mardek 3 very much a full length game, especially considering it is a continuation of series that has already proven itself to be well above the average flash game. It is a game that, if I found it on a store shelf, I would buy. So it is a game worth paying for online.
Hooray for Mardek! Long live Pseudolonewolf!!!
Zuriki`s Avatar
Rating Orb Zuriki 18 United Kingdom Melancholic 234C 84F
7 years ago | (4)
£ = Pound/GBP
$ = Dollar/USD

£1 = $1.48~
$1 = £0.67~

So $15 would be £10.13 which reasonable I guess for an indie game considering you're pretty fully aware of what you're getting compared to most retail games and you know you're going to enjoy it - again, compared to retail games. Heck the game had love poured into it during the development process, something retail games also lack. I practically completed Pokémon SoulSilver in 42h so that makes Mardek potentially longer.
Squirrel`s Avatar
Rating Orb Squirrel 18 United States MelancholicCholeric 26C 0F
7 years ago | (0)
Thank you for clearing up my confusion. Which leads to my second question… how does one type a pound sign?
1 Reply
aturtledoesbite`s Avatar
Rating Orb aturtledoesbite 15 United States PhlegmaticMelancholic 132C 35F
7 years ago | (0)
Final Fantasy IV was named Final Fantasy II in the United States because the real Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III were not released in the United States, but they were in Japan. So, to avoid confusion, they renamed it Final Fantasy II for us in the U.S. Also, Rydia learns Meteo at level 60 (level 80 in the DS version).
Squirrel`s Avatar
Rating Orb Squirrel 18 United States MelancholicCholeric 26C 0F
7 years ago | (0)
Level 60? Excellent! Thank you for that. As to the game naming, I guess I remember reading that. I was more wondering what good naming something that does not continue a storyline in a continuing manner does anyhow. Did they really think people in the U.S. could not handle having missed two games? I guess the question was more of a lament than an actual question. Thank you for answering though, and I apologize if this seems dismissive. It is not meant to be, but I am very melancholic, so I have to have things overly technically correct. Thank you!
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