Friday, October 30, 2009

Dev Diary: Flash Business

Since starting my flash game at the begining of this week I have been doing a lot of research on how to properly deploy it.  In the process I learned way more then expected.  At first the goal was to find an easy way to distribute the game properly and see what I could bring in from MochiAds.  Little did I know the options that were out there.

Let me take you step by step through my journey (for those of you not interested in my journey you can find all the useful Flash business links below).

Funding for my free to play flash game?  I could not believe the answer to this question was a maybe.  Having established (good) Flash street-cred the answer to that question usually is a yes.  If you have  a presentable demo of your final project it seems the answer can be yes as well.

Now lets be clear, the funding does not seem to be enough to supplement a day job's income.  That fact aside it does seem to be enough to counteract the cost of development (not counting the cost of your time).  I plan on attempting to raise enough money to pay for the tools and software I am using (I am on a trial at the moment).  It may also be possible to raise enough to cover the cost of the art polish I will need (the game will not be art heavy).

Protecting my IP and physical work (art and code) was something I was looking to address.  I found some great resources (which will be summarized at the bottom) that covered all these bases.  Copyrighting, encrypting and generally keeping you stuff from getting stolen.

It was very surprising to discover the high degree of Flash game theft out there.  As I said earlier, I really did not know that flash games were such a hot commodity.  If you do not go through the steps to protect your game, there is nothing you can do to stop them from using you game for whatever they please.

On a software note, it is incredibly easy to reverse engineer a flash game.  If you do nothing to prevent this it is as easy as importing the swf file into Flash CS#.  Fortunately there are some pretty easy things you can do to (mostly) prevent this.  Maybe this is not a huge issue for someone who hasn't really written too much code for their game.  In my case my codes are my babies and I do not want anyone taking them.

This is something I knew almost completely nothing about.  Portals will actually give you money for your game.  It makes sense.  Get more games on your portal and get more traffic.  It is more then just that.  The portals want to pull revenue from other sites.  So they pay you some money to put branding and links in your game to they get more visitors.

Now I thought the amount they pay could not be anything huge, maybe a few hundred at most.  While some games do only get a few hundred, if the game is of good quality the amount was in the thousands.  Wow!  I could not believe it.  Okay, again not enough to quit the day job, but damn.  That is great for someone doing it as a hobby.  Not to mention the students out there churning out decent games.  I personally would have prefered it over working in retail.

This was the main topic of my research and I was happy with what I found.  It seems these days deployment and distribution is pretty much automated.  Depending on your sponsor (if you can get one) they will do a lot of the leg work for you.  It makes sense since they want your game to get their portal more visits.  There are also some special portals out there that you need to get more detailed with.  I am mostly talking about Kongregate and the importance of integrating their API.  They also do cool things for you like share ad revenue and have regular cash prizes if your game gets rated well.

If you are going it alone then there are still some things to help you out.  MochiAds has gotten really great over the years.  When I first played with it it was pretty basic.  Now they have all sorts of goodies.  You can track analytic information, sell in-game treats for $$, and even have them distribute the game for you.  If you need to update the game you simply give them the new swf file and it will update all the portals you are on.

I can not wait to try out all this stuff on my own.  There is something I find very interesting about the Flash community.  When you think about it it is pretty wild how the community has figured out a way to profit off such a no-strings-attached game market.

Here are the best links I came across in my travels (you can thank me later for not having to use google):
Flash Rights - Details everything you need to know about protecting you game's IP
Flash Game Sponsorship - Lots of great info about getting you game Sponsored
Flash Game License - A great site to get you game in front of potential sponsors
Kick Starter - This site is a place where you can attempt to raise money for you projects
Kongregate - Great portal, be sure to visit their developer page before finishing your Flash game
Flash Game Blogs - This blog spits out all the flash related blog posts out there

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to see some games! It should be noted that kickstarter is in Beta and not everyone can go and set up a project.

    Also that makes getting sponsored a more structured process, putting a great deal of the portals in front of you. (Or is it you in front of the portals?)