Inexperienced Flash Developers Hurting The Flash Market?

Hello Everyone,

Today I wanted to post about something many experienced developers talk about frequently. Its a common gripe among the more experienced in the flash dev community and I felt it would be beneficial to offer my advice to other less experienced developers who may be seeking advice. Many may ask why no one has really spoke out about this before and I think I may know the reason. Its purely because a lot of developers have a “everybody for themselves” mentality. They feel like if they help then they are taking away from themselves, and in my opinion its having the opposite effect. If anything at all I hope to get some of you thinking and help in some way.  Now to talk about the actual issue at hand.

Now before any of you ask what makes my advice worth anything I would like to state that I have been developing and selling games since I was 13 (about 10 years). After I sold my first game for over 25k I even took on a marketing  job for a year and sold more games for over 10-13k. (meeting my employers expectations greatly) I had a lot of insensitive because when I met expectations I received bonuses which were very generous. Through my work I have been able to start and support a family of four while being able to purchase my first home (which resides in a nice neighborhood) and I am currently debt free. I am by no means trying to brag just trying to make the point that I have been able to live off of flash games for a long time. So I would like to think I know what im talking about. 😀

A lot of experienced developers (including me) believe that newcomers or the less experienced may be hurting the flash market, let me explain why. For whatever reason these developers enter the market and accept bids from sponsors that fall short of the games actual value. This could be due to lack of money, knowledge of their games value, patience or pure willingness to accept small amounts for their games because money is money to them. Or these devs could be feeling the pressure when sponsors are unwilling to raise their prices and are forced to accept. This has created a type of never ending cycle where many developers are not being able to reach the full potential for their games.

Basically this is what is happening. These new developers will create these very appealing games of great quality(not all new devs are so gifted :D).  They will pore their heart into it for weeks/months/years and then (due to lack of experience) they will throw their games onto FGL and accept a fraction of the games value. Lets be honest, most of these guys have no idea what the value of their game is and are happy to get anything at all so they jump at the opportunity. Some of the more experienced will say “Hey that means more for us”, when in reality that is wrong. The problem is that these guys are really hurting the market.

Imagine this if you will. Your a sponsor and your out to find a good deal.(nothing wrong with that, us devs want a good deal as well, but a fair one for both parties) Your strolling through the FGL games or your email and there is a lot of variety/quality titles. (quality of the average game has greatly rose over the years as well) Lets say you want a physics game so you continue to search and come across an appealing physics title. You check it out and it has all the qualities your looking for. Shortly after you decide to bid in hopes of snagging it for pennies. Now the game you just bid on was created by a veteran of flash and they have a decent understanding of the games value. So as someone who is experienced they are unwilling to accept such small amounts and would rather wait it out. They may contact you and let you know they had a different price in mind or even just ignore the bid all together. Regardless in a lot of cases you will continue to search and bid on another similar game. In this next case this developer is new and less experienced. They will be happy you bid and after waiting a short period (couple of days) will launch the game into last call. Three days later you are now the proud sponsor of this awesome game and you got an great deal. You will surely make a nice profit now.

Did you notice what just happened? (You) The sponsor came across two similar games, both of similar quality and mechanics but of course took the cheaper version. Why wouldn’t you? They are both very similar and one developer was willing to take it for a much cheaper amount. It will generate close to the same amount of traffic to your site so its a win for the sponsor and the new dev.(in their mind, but not really) Whats happening is developers are making it really easy to get high quality games for small amounts. In effect it is driving down the value of all games in the market. Devs sell them cheap, sponsors dismiss devs looking for higher amounts and opt out to get the cheaper versions. The only way to really get a fair amount anymore is to make something not available on the market. That way sponsors will fight over it. Even that may not work some of the time as well. Primarily because the sponsor can turn around and sponsor 10 less unique games for cheaper. (which generates the same revenue or more) Its making it harder for most of the guys who do this as a primary source of income to continue doing what they love. So in the end the veterans are forced to accept low amounts to just make it or don’t have the games sponsored at all. Both of which can be a big hit financially.

Its almost like an “outsourcing” effect. Why hire someone for 100,000 a year when you can hire someone else to do the same job for 10-15,000 a year? I believe this has become a real problem in the industry and the main problem is because these guys are not educated when it comes to the marketing aspect of flash games. Nor do they have experience in business practices/negotiation. A lot of these sponsors are business men and have an upper hand because they know how to manipulate situations in their favor. They enter the situation knowing what to say and do to get you to crack/sell.

So here is my advice. Everyone needs to be willing to sweat it out and really do your homework. Figure out what kind of revenue your game is able to generate and come up with a reasonable price for your game. You can do that by looking at statistics of similar games. (plays/clicks ect..) Also be willing to wait it out.(be patient) My first two games sold probably 6 months after I finished them but in the end I  hit my target amount. Do not be afraid to PM experienced devs and ask for advice. I myself am willing to help anyone out who asks. Make the effort to get your game in front of sponsors (email them with a private link to your game), get them to bid, build interest and be patient. The more guys interested the better it is for you. Always take all bids seriously, don’t write someone off because they give you a low offer. My second game sold for 5k because I was willing to talk with a sponsor and be patient when his initial offer was 300. Never dismiss an offer or burn any bridges. The internet is a funny thing. You can easily take what someone has said completely the wrong way and over react and intern destroy future business with a sponsor. Always and I mean always assume the sponsor meant no harm. Your not doing yourself any good if you get defensive.  Also when you are speaking with a sponsor you really need to think of it like a game of chess. You guys can be friends but when selling a game its business. Everything you say is giving them hints about your life and situation. Letting them know that your broke, need food, diapers for your kids or electricity is about to go off is not going to get them to raise their offer in most cases. A lot of the time it will have the opposite effect. It will hint that you need money and its not going to hurt them if they wait until your forced to accept. I am betting they will be willing to wait 1-2 weeks if it means they save some money. So if anything you need to let them know all is great and life is good and you are in no rush. If they think you have all the time in the world then they will be more willing to speed up the process by giving an offer worth considering.

I think that’s all for now. I am afraid I am beginning to ramble and I want to keep all the information I have stated relevant. I am just hoping I am able to help some of you guys who may be confused about what to do once your game is ready for sponsorship. If I am able to do that then today was a productive day.

For those of you don’t know we are currently working towards other gaming markets.(steam primarily) Its really motivational to know a community is behind us and rooting us on so be sure to keep up with the blog/comment if any of this stuff interests you. Once we are successful I hope it will offer some inspiration to others who have similar goals. I know it would have been great/inspirational for us to watch someone walk a path we were wanting to take. Unfortunately not many blogs like that exist so maybe we can feel a small part of the gap. Also feel free to follow us if you like posts like this because I try to offer advice/wisdom when I can. Its just hard because I always have so much to say.

As always fell free to follow us on Twitter or Facebook.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think below.

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9 comments on “Inexperienced Flash Developers Hurting The Flash Market?

  1. A lot of food for thought in this post.

    I have a couple of questions:

    – How do you go about valuing your own game before selling it? How did you know that your $25k game was worth that much?
    – Is there anything else you would recommend adding to a sales pitch or sponsor discussion? Any other things (such as talk about being poor and needing the money) that should definitely be avoided?

    • Thanks for the comment. I actually had about finished my reply and this site messed up lol. I guess I will be forced to write it again. I also saw your comment in my FGL thread and have replied. Thanks again for showing interest. Now to the questions again.
      – When I value my games I take a lot of things into account. I for one take in my time spent. (most say not to do this, but I think its important) Also its important to make sure your making a good investment of your time beforehand. You don’t want to spend 4 months making a 2k game. (at least I don’t) I do not typically count hours but I think to myself “2 months of work, I would be happy with 6-7k” or whatever. I also factor in the quality of the game and the sponsor appeal. If the game just looks awesome from the start and you know sponsors will be interested that will drive the price up. First impressions is very important so I think the loader, main menu and UI is one of the most important parts of a game. Also including a polished intro will increase the price. You will be amazed by how much a price of a game will increase by including “unnecessary” things but add a nice level of polish. Everything in your game needs to have a nice “feel” to it. From hovering over buttons to hitting enemies. Your games need to have weight to it. If that stuff is solid it can really drive up the price of your game (assuming the rest of the game is good). I will then go on to decide if the game is fun. If you enjoy your own game then your on the right track. If its “okay” I wouldn’t expect a whole lot. A lot of the time its hard for developers to enjoy their own game. So its definitely good when you enjoy it haha. Also you need to think about how much you enjoyed developing it. I have found the more I enjoyed making a game the more money I have made. It means your poring your heart into it. If your making a game for money you will most likely be unhappy with the sale price/offers. Also the estimated plays are very important. I basically factor everything above and try to figure out how many views/plays I can get based on similar games and past games success. You will have to gauge how good it is compared to your other games and their sale prices.
      There are so many factors that go into valuing your game and in the end its what you feel right about. To put it simply I really go off the estimated views. I will factor it all and if I think all my work will bring in 4 million views (in 1-3 months) then I will ask 8k. (2k per 1 million views) I asked a sponsor once and this is the numbers he gave me. (2k per 1 million plays/views) Sorry I kind of dragged that on a bit. Hopefully it was helpful.

      When I valued my “25k game” it was really all about content, quality, polish, time spent and estimated popularity. The game was the size of a console title and we made it in 2-3 months. It was extremely polished and we put a lot of heart into the game. It was my baby and I put more effort into it then I had ever done before. So I took into all the factors and felt like together I was happy to let her go at 25k. I imagined the game hitting around 15 million plays easy so to me it felt easy. All of it came together that way in the end and the sponsor was actually happy to work with us.

      – When pitching a game to a sponsor I would try to keep it short, sweet and to the point. I would include some of your favorite features in short list (if emailing, stuff that will interest them, maybe some replay value stuff along with statistics of similar titles or even a link to a popular/similar game) along with 3-4 images attached in an email.(flattering stuff) Also keeping it organized is a plus. I have seen a lot of people throw together a very laid back email and it doesn’t grab much attention. You want the sponsors attention so it needs to be clean, quick and grab there attention. Just like with your game you need to have a clean, solid and appealing first impression. For me pictures and keeping things organized and friendly work.

  2. Thank you so much for the advice! As a new programmer in the video game industry (still currently a student in school), and as I’m currently developing my own mini titles and plan on possibly creating marketable merchandise in the future this is really good to know!

  3. Hello, and thank you for all the information above – it is very useful, especially for people who are new to the industry. We are the type of developers who are not very experienced in that market, so we really don’t know exactly how to work things out for now. We created a game, which we uploaded to FGL and is currently in active bidding process. It received bids for $300, $400, $500 from different sponsors and finally the first who offered $300 increased his bid to $700. And that was the first day the game has been approved for sponsor viewing. But everything died after that – it is probably too early for anything – it’s been 10 days since we uploaded it to the site. We’ve read your answer to pepperpunk’s question, and it is a great guide to our situation, but we just can’t decide for our own what’s the real value of the game we’ve created, because we haven’t publish a game on our own before. It’s confusing when it came to price, and we think that’s one more reason for developers to sell their games for smaller amounts. We’d be glad if you are interested to give us some advise, or if you could check our game and say what you think we can earn by selling it (what’s the price you think we deserve for it). It might sounds odd to you, but we don’t know where to seek that information.
    Thank you for your attention, and once again thanks for the valuable information you posted!

  4. Hi! First of all, great post, it’s good to know there’s still some game dev out there that doesn’t think only for himself 🙂

    I’ve been vacuum in flash game business for about one year, recently I’ve just decided to get back to this, so I just want to ask, is it still worth developing flash game with nowadays market that’s so crowded? Thanks and sorry for bad grammars 😀

    • Hello,
      Yes I do think its still worth it, but keep in mind in this market only professional quality games seem to be selling well. Medium quality games and lower quality games (in the past) would have been able to sell for a decent amount, but now I see a lot of games barely getting over 1k. Hope that was helpful.
      Matt

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