Tag Archive for selling

BSG’s sponsor search and Flash Game License

About a month ago we finished the first version of our zombie game, Class 3 Outbreak, and began pimping it to a list of sponsors. We decided to first try and contact a list of 20 or so via email, since I have the spare time to be able to talk in depth with sponsors myself, and being the cheap penny pinchers we are, we wanted to avoid giving FGL any money! FGL (Flash Game License) is a service which helps flash developers find sponsors for their games. So a few days later I got a few bites, but nothing that ever eventuated. For some reason, as also happened with ZOS, we got some sponsors saying “great game, how much?”, followed by no response afterward. Pretty strange, but I guess they mustn’t have wanted it that badly.

After that dismal little failure we decided to put the game on FGL and see what sort of action we’d receive. Over the course of a couple of weeks we got bids that started at $300 and eventually reached $5000, funnily enough one of the high bids was from a sponsor that we had emailed but who never responded. It seems like a lot of sponsors are now just depending on FGL and ignoring emails for sponsorship, unless this was just in our situation and our game, its hard to say. FGL’s bidding system is very easy to follow, and the transparency of who’s bidding and how much is great to help drive your price up. The percentage FGL takes is very fair – in our case we had no offers and ended up with $5k, I’m not good enough at maths to make up a % increase for that, but maybe something like lots%?

After chatting with Adam a bit and exchanging emails, I also found that they actively hunt down sponsors and market your game to them, something that I didn’t expect to see. We certainly came away from it feeling that we had been well taken care of and that every single sponsor possible had seen the game.

In the end we actually decided not to take a sponsorship at all. The two top bidders both had attractive offers, however one of them wanted a 700px version of the game (too small for our taste) to fit their portal, and the other one we felt suited a more traditional banner advertising/cost per click sort of model, and that ultimately fell through as well. Also for $5k we were still a bit on the fence as to whether we could make that in advertising and donations, and felt a little uneasy about giving up some money if the game did exceedingly well. Judging from ZOS, we “only” need to get a few million plays to make $4-5k, and Saxon and I both agreed that since we were making this game for fun, we’d prefer to go the riskier, more fun approach of self sponsoring. We also felt that we may gain more newsletter subscriptions, forum members, search engine rankings, and facebook fans this way, and we would really like to build a community around the game.

Once again we’d like to say a huge thank you to FGL, we were thoroughly impressed in every way! I can’t recommend them enough. Something else I’ll quickly touch on is FGL’s great First Impressions service. We submitted our game to First Impressions, and quickly got 20 really well thought out and highly varied opinions with detailed feedback and suggestions. Well worth the money.

Stay tuned to find out whether our self sponsoring was a good idea or not :) We have already appeared on Digg, but it was nothing compared to the landslide of traffic we had for ZOS. Funny, since C3O is the playable ZOS! I’m also emailing a few games websites and press, however it seems that a lot of them only cater to ‘downloadable indie’ games. Some specifically say no flash games, which I feel is possibly due to the glut of low quality flash games out there which make some people think that they’re all going to be poor. Really, whats the distinction between a flash and downloadable game apart from how you get hold of it? Anyway, I was trying to end my post, not start rambling about something else :)

Thanks for reading,

Zombie Outbreak Sim Wrap Up

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!

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!

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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!