Archive for June 29, 2009

Advertising in Flash Games Compared to TV

I was pondering marketing and advertising (mochiads) in flash games, and got thinking about traditional advertising, like on TV for example. I think its a reasonable comparison, you might spend 30 minutes watching an episode of something on TV, and according to wikipedia, in America: “a typical 30-minute block of time now includes 22 minutes of programming with 6 minutes of national advertising and 2 minutes of local.” So that’s nearly a third of your time watching adverts for a free TV show.

When you consider flash games, you will see an advert at the start of the game for perhaps 5-10 seconds, and you could potentially spend up to an hour playing some games without seeing another advert. Sure, you have google adwords ads around the game that are always visible, but I think that’s quite different to having your entertainment experience completely shutdown while you must watch adverts.

It’s a very good deal when you think about it this way, for the players I mean. Flash developers in general are still not earning enough on average in my opinion, and sure if the developer only spent a few days or a week on a game or if its no good then you’ll close the game if an ad break appears. However for a quality, compelling game I think there’s nothing wrong with inserting ads into the game at strategic, unintrusive points. Most adverts are only appearing for another 5-10 seconds, so I think it would be reasonable to have ads appear up to 5 or more times in a long game, say an hour. In fact when I’m honest with myself I think it could approach tv levels of advertising time, why not? What will happen, is that if you have a poor game, everyone will leave on the ad break and that game will earn less. Fair deal in my opinion. If you think your game is of lower quality you could place less adverts to keep players around longer. If you have a great game, players will hang around in exactly the same way they do on tv breaks (or go make some food and come back). Advertising online in flash games also has potential that tv doesn’t, such as being interactive (even include other games), and being able to open other windows, research the advertisers product, and so on.

People seem to have big gripes with lots of adverts, but I think if your audience refuses to sit through a 5-10 second break every 15 minutes there’s something wrong with your free game. I’ve even read a lot of people claiming that people won’t play your game if it takes too long to load. Consider just how long the intro sequence/credits take for a soap, I feel people still have this thought that “if its on the net it should be free and fast no matter what”.

I could rant longer but you get the idea! What are we planning in our game for adverts? An initial loading advertisement as per industry standard, then 2-3 more in adbreaks which coincides with other events that halt gameplay. I think it’s reasonable, we are providing roughly an hour long, free game in return for players sitting through a total of maybe 20-30 seconds of mochiads. That’s a bargain!

Tell me what you think, and sign up for our newsletter on the right if you’d like to be notified when our first game is released.

WGT Golf – the best flash game you aren’t playing

While I’m not a huge fan of golf games, I felt the need to write a short post about this game. World Golf Tour would have to be one of the most realistic golf games I’ve ever played, which is saying something because its a free, ¬†online, multiplayer flash game that runs in your browser.

I find it particularly interesting because its as far from a normal flash game as you can get. It has the system requirements of some PC games and plays in a huge 1280X800 screen (minimum), whereas most flash games play in a tiny 600×400 window. I’d actually have to say that this is the most hardcore flash game I’ve seen, as in, it’s not created just to shoot some zombies for 5 minutes and then never come back. This is a full fledged, feature rich, realistic and eye popping game that you’d be happy with if you had just paid $100 for it at EB.

You could almost call it a MMOG (ok not quite), as there are tournaments run all the time where 1000’s of players compete to make the cut, qualify and win prizes. In fact WGT just ran a tournament alongside the US Open at Bethpage Black, they called it “the Virtual US Open Championship” and the winner gets a pass to next years tournament. The virtual US Open was played out over the same time period as the actual event, and it certainly adds to the interest level of the game and the event itself, as people who have played the online course a lot can watch the pros do it on TV and compare themselves. I can’t think of anything else like it, and its a great idea. Over 180,000 people also though it was a great idea and signed up to compete on the course. Only 200 people made the cut, and the winner, NASAGolfer, took the prize and received 2 tickets to the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach.

Where all these people actually found out about the game is a mystery, and while I found it over 6 months ago, I can’t remember where either! You can even try a few searches on google for online golf and flash golf, but you’ll never find it! Odd!

WGT Golf uses a great little business model where the game itself is free, but has a micro transaction system if you’d like to buy new clubs. The Bethpage black course almost required some better clubs (you couldn’t even reach some fairways with basic clubs) but when they only cost $5-10 for a set, it’s good value.

So if you’re tired of the same shallow flash games that are released over and over again, and you like golf, I highly recommend giving this one a go. If nothing else the scenery is speccy!

Give it a go now… WGT Golf

Pre Release Hype for Flash Games

Aside from popular sequels, I don’t think I’ve ever received or read any form of pre release marketing for a flash game. It may have something to do with the size of the games, or the general idea that flash games are quick, disposable and not really worth doing much marketing of any kind. Or perhaps people are afraid that they will tip off ‘the competition’ to the kind of revolutionary game they are developing? That’s quite certainly the case for us!!

So for the last couple of months I’ve been mulling over exactly what to release about our supercalifragilistic game, which will both interest gamers but dissuade developers from making a clone before we do. As it stands, even though our programmer, Saxon is coding his first ever game in flex to what I think is a very high standard, I’m still concerned that someone with more time or a bigger team could see what we are making and do it before us. Whether this is a valid concern or not, I’m not sure, but to be safe we are going to start hyping the game around 1 month before release so that there is almost no way we can be cloned.

In an attempt to build hype for our game, and reach as many people as possible, I am planning on releasing a range of teasers, newsletters, videos, development journals and press releases in around 1-2 months time. In the beginning I expect we may only attract the attention of other game developers via the development journals, and then once we’ve announced the genre and general premise of the game, hopefully we can start to build a sizeable subscriber base to our newsletters, twitter followers and rss feeds. I’d imagine we will announce the game’s big ‘hook’ or selling point only 1-2 weeks before release.

I’m planning on trying some “War of the Worlds” kind of press releases, which are written as if the game’s events are actually occurring, except of course they are so absurd that the reader hopefully has their interest piqued and goes on to watch a posted youtube clip, screen shots or something similar. With any luck these might be successful enough to gain preview write ups in online mags or get dugg, and further build our subscriber base.

I’d also like to think that this game is kind of a “casual game for hardcore gamers”. I know many hardcore gamers play casual games (I’m one of them), but I’m still going to try pitching our game in this manner to try and bring more attention to the fact that flash games can be enjoyed by more hardcore gamers, and that they can have some level of depth.

Well that’s about enough rambling for now… I’ll have to try and get some links coming in now for this development journal, perhaps Emanuele Feronato will link to this or my other articles? If you are coming from his site, then huzzah!

Thanks for following, and sign up for our newsletter on the right, or follow me on twitter to receive more updates in the future.

If you have anything to contribute I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried your own form of pre release marketing for flash games before? Do I not know what I’m on about? Set me straight or give me your opinion!

Deuteros on Amiga Forever

The other day I shelled out a bargain $30 for Amiga Forever which comes with a bunch of old games and a really easy to use interface. I used to play around with WinUAE (and I believe Forever may use it) but this is so much easier. The first game I wanted to check out was Deuteros, one of my favorite games from ‘back in the day’. I got sidetracked with Kick Off and then Ports of Call, and eventually sought out the glorious space game…

I’m about to attempt a kind of review of this game, but its going to be difficult, since I’m not sure if my fond memories cloud my judgment! So I load up the game and am greeted by the quirky animated logo…

Deuteros

Deuteros

This is so cool, and I can’t believe no other games (?) ever did it. It’s one of the many small details that makes the game take on its own unique feel and atmosphere.

In fact the detail throughout the entire game, from the interface to the sound all come together with such skill that you almost forget that you are playing through gameplay sequences that would be considered as boring as making paint dry, if it were attempted today. Ok, maybe not that bad, since I did play it for a good 3 hour stretch (and found it hard to stop). I’m not sure exactly what made me want to, but here is what the gameplay consists of for most of the game:

– Train dudes, press “advance time”
– Research part, advance time
– Build part, advance time
– Launch ship, advance time, deploy part 1 of 8 (no advance time needed!!)
– Shuffle personnel around in a very drawn out, annoying process.
– Build new base on new planet and repeat above.

Yep, the advance time button is hideously annoying! There are some frustrating and boring tasks, and there’s very little action. But this game, for something made in caveman times, has some serious immersion and atmosphere. It really feels like you’re part of a post-apocalyptic space faring people. The visuals ooze style and flair, the ship designs are awesome and the interface screens (particularly earth’s flaming surface) are works of art. The midi sounds are brilliant, each screen has its own sound – beeps for research, oppressive industrial sounds for mining, and super cool mechanical ship loading sounds. The boring task of launching a ship into orbit is almost made fun with the noise and gloomy Giger-esque ship interior (complete with rear view screen for some reason).

Deuteros

Deuteros

I think another factor that really adds to the immersion is the interface. You’ll rarely ever see any text interface which is just a functional “button” floating in space attached to a “game interface”. In Deuteros the main interface is a mess of wires and screens, eyeballs and globes. You don’t just press “launch ship”, you’re inside the ships cockpit, and the launch button is on the actual console. So you get the feeling that you are moving around in the game environment, rather than commanding things from a distance, unattached to anything.

So far I’ve progressed to meeting the Methanoids, and have built up a stockpile of resources to wage war on them, however during their first few attacks I’ve been beaten back pretty badly (man this is a hard game!). I swear they knew I was stockpiling, damn cheat computer! I think I’ll need to adjust my strategy next time…

Well I hope you enjoyed my hastily written, unplanned and so called review of one of my favorite Amiga games, Deuteros. It’s a great trip down memory lane, and if you somehow missed it I highly recommend checking it out!

Now… can I implement these design features in our game… humm…

MochiAds Free Hosting

I got a reply back from Mochi saying there are indeed “no strings attached” to their free hosting service for flash games. I was impressed by their reply speed too, it gives me confidence that if there’s any problems in the future I’ll be able to get in contact with someone. So we will continue to host our site, but the game is hosted on their servers, and they handle the huge flood of gamers foaming at the mouth to play our awesome games!

I was initially concerned with the price of hosting a large-ish flash game, since if you get a successful game on your hands, your bandwidth fees go through the roof. It also seems quite hard to find a host that is “digg proof”. I’ve read articles where people have gone with one of the big name hosts, even ones which advertise being digg proof, and they still go down. Part of the problem may be poorly optimized websites, but it seemed like a big price tag attached to something that isn’t guaranteed to stay online.

Anyway I think we will be trying out Mochis free hosting option and see how it holds up. Hopefully we get some big social media/digg/stumbleupon traffic and can report back on how it goes. I think we will still have to invest in a modest/high end hosting solution like a VPS or basic dedicated option, but at least I won’t have to fear big ‘bandwidth exceeded’ fees.

I’m pretty confident we can make a reasonable profit with advertising on our homepage now as well, whereas before it looked like either a tiny profit, or at worst, a small loss.

If anyone else has used MochiAds free hosting I’d like to hear what your experience has been.

Thanks for reading!