Well its been around 10 weeks now since we released Zombie Outbreak Simulator (ZOS). I’d like to share some of the experiences we had, and since I have learned so much from other similar articles, I’d like to give something back.
Our plan with ZOS was always to make it just a bit of a tech preview or teaser for Class 3 Outbreak (the RTS), something that’s just a bit of fun to watch and whet your appetite for the ‘real thing’. Having developed the game for so long, and testing/balancing Class 3 Outbreak for a while, I thought that ZOS would get some “oh, that’s kinda interesting” remarks and we’d get a little bit of traffic from some zombie or google maps sites. Funnily enough, I started to see some traffic coming from Digg via google analytics. I went to their website and found that we had been Dugg 30-40 times, which I thought was pretty good. A moment later I was about to head off to sleep for the night and I thought I’d check the site again, and lo’, we had just reached the front page! To our great astonishment and excitement, we eventually shot up to the third most dugg site of the day, getting over 1700 diggs. Our server went down perhaps a dozen times or more but luckily it never stayed down, it would just restart and keep on trucking. rorr.im also mirrored us which helped a little. We ended up having to put up static html files for all of our pages on class3outbreak.com, and that plus some help from our host finally got traffic moving smoothly. Saxon and I definitely enjoyed watching ZOS climb though, it was quite unreal.
I loved reading all of the comments people were leaving at Digg as well, and I made some comments/replies myself. Its great to interact with fans! We were amazed to see that not only would people post what settings they were using for the outbreak, they would even make up entire stories about the little 20 pixel people running around – extensive stories! It seemed to really capture peoples imagination, and I think running the game on google maps played a part in that, because we are using actual imagery. It’d be nice if the people looked a little more realistic but I’m not sure if I can improve them much with only 20 or so pixels.
We weren’t entirely prepared for the traffic when it hit, so we didn’t have mochi ads running, and our adsense banners weren’t really optimized either. It’s funny that after getting played 250,000 times and dugg 1700 times (I’d call that a huge success) we made around $300 in 2-3 days. As traffic levels out it looks like we might make 5-10k by the end of the year at this rate. That’s a pretty good sign to me that making money from advertising in flash games is incredibly hard. Sure, if we had mochi running from the start, we probably would have made a bit over double in the first 2 days, but that’s still peanuts for something that was so popular. I’d imagine getting the game to spread successfully over portals and get 10’s of millions of plays could start bringing in some half decent money too, but we are in the middle of seeing what we can do in this department.
When you consider the super great article: “You should be making a premium flash game” and games like Fantastic Contraption, we are very keen to try selling our game at some point, ie when there’s enough game there to charge for. If we punched in the Fantastic Contraption sales numbers with our current traffic levels we would be making over $90k a year, not too shabby. And yes, the games are both extremely different, and its impossible to know whether we would reach the same level of success as Colin did, but it is interesting to guesstimate these things…
Since ZOS has gone online we’ve also put up a facebook page that has reached over 1700 fans, and a forum which is already producing a lot of conversation. Feel free to join either!
You might be wondering how C3O is coming along… we hit a slight snag which requires another 2-4 weeks work, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer. Ah games and their so called release dates… :)
Thanks for reading!