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Author Topic: Ads, not sales, is the key  (Read 11373 times)

Presentiment

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Ads, not sales, is the key
« on: March 02, 2010, 09:31:01 PM »

Rather than having users pay for the games (how much are you earning from TPA2?), you think you should get some people to advertise on the games. In order to do this, you need to make people more aware of the existence of Sinister Design. A good example is casualcollective.com (the DTD and FETD people). They restrict aspects of their games to the public, and inform the public of their website. This increases traffic, which makes ads more lucrative.
Although they do not do ads so much anymore, I think that’s more of trying to promote their image of a friendly site and reducing lag on their multiplayer games than anything else, along with the fact they have a seed fund, which, to my knowledge, you do not have.
As the buying method is unstreamlined, costs money (duh), the full versions of TPA2 and TsoG seem unlikely to spread beyond a dedicated fanbase and game reviewers.
Instead of selling the games, release them to the public and advertise SinisterDesign on more popular sites. Go for a seed fund, expand your games to different platforms, and get advertisers interested.
A fun idea would be to have ‘integrated ads’ in the game; for example, a poster in HQ advertising a company. Because every player of the game would see it, this could potentially be a very lucrative idea.
A good indicator of how well known SinisterDesign is its forum, activity in which is anemic. I have seen little notification of the expanded versions of games on the home site, and I believe informing the general populace of this will greatly increase traffic, and then how much money you can earn from ads.
I cannot see either of the current Telepath games earning more than a few thousand USD through sale, which is something of an insult to the effort you put into it. By gaining the attention of more potential users, however, you set yourself up to make yourself better positioned to begin commercially and gain a seed fund to make game-making a full-time job.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2010, 05:57:06 PM by CraigStern »
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CraigStern

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 11:01:55 PM »

Forgive my cynicism, but are you speaking from experience, or from a desire to play Sinister Design games for free? Ads in Flash games really weren't all that lucrative back before the recession hit, and they're certainly no better now.

I do know of a small handful of Flash game developers who are able to make a living releasing free games (Pixel Jam being a prominent example), but most free Flash developers are either in high school or college, and don't have to worry about paying rent, paying back school loans, buying food, paying for doctor's bills, and so on and so on. With Pixel Jam, the kind of games they make--short, addictive action games--are much quicker to put together and release than the kind of games I make, and they appeal to a much larger audience. In short, they're a good fit for the free Flash model. Sad to say, mine really aren't.

Maybe I'll only earn a few thousand on TSoG--maybe not. I'd certainly like to earn more than that. We'll just have to see how things go, I suppose.
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Presentiment

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 11:06:43 PM »

Forgive my cynicism, but are you speaking from experience, or from a desire to play Sinister Design games for free? Ads in Flash games really weren't all that lucrative back before the recession hit, and they're certainly no better now.

I do know of a small handful of Flash game developers who are able to make a living releasing free games (Pixel Jam being a prominent example), but most free Flash developers are either in high school or college, and don't have to worry about paying rent, paying back school loans, buying food, paying for doctor's bills, and so on and so on. With Pixel Jam, the kind of games they make--short, addictive action games--are much quicker to put together and release than the kind of games I make, and they appeal to a much larger audience. In short, they're a good fit for the free Flash model. Sad to say, mine really aren't.

Maybe I'll only earn a few thousand on TSoG--maybe not. I'd certainly like to earn more than that. We'll just have to see how things go, I suppose.

I would definitely give you ten dollars if we met in person, but the current buying method is really too clunky and I don't see the point of it.

Seeing as most of your fanbase is in the younger demographics, they are likely more unwilling to pay in such a manner. Perhaps there could be an indirect paying method, such as participating on a site to earn virtual currency, with advertisers paying to be listed.

What I would really like to see if increased notification of users of the existence of this site, so it gains traffic. Freeware would be a way to increase traffic, but it isn't the only way, others would be a more integrated site, getting the word around about the site, etc.

I think about it this way:

If I were a nine-year old, what would make me interested in this site and active in the forums?

And also, if you are going to put it up for a price, make the price lower than the price to sign up for a free download site.

Most people don't care about supporting the developer that much if they can cut it cheap.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2010, 12:26:21 AM by Presentiment »
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Ertxiem

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2010, 01:57:35 AM »

Although getting the best of two worlds is quite hard, I think that the free demos might help spread the world about the games.

I don't know how the ad revenue works, so please correct me if I'm wrong. A free playable demo of about 10MB to 20MB can be put on popular websites that might generate some add revenue. And, evidently, the demo itself would work as an add to the full game.

I was shocked when Craig decided to sell TPA2. And I would have preferred that TPA2 would be free (as I guess anyone else wanted, even Craig). But everyone has to make a living, and from Craig's (brief) comments, it was clear that the sales of TPA2 generated more revenue than the ad revenue from all the other TRPG games (again, please correct me if I'm wrong). Therefore, I understand Craig's choice on selling his games from now on.

Excluding minors from the market is indeed a problem. I don't really see a nice way out, other than the minors asking someone to give them the game or to buy it for them.

Another problem raised is related to the way the games are sold. Most online stores aren't (fully) trusted, at least in the country where I live. Not because they trick people but because the direct human contact is missing. The problem may be bigger in this case because we aren't buying a CD (or something else physical) - we are buying a link to be able to download. So, again, it's another layer of virtuality that may give people some discomfort on buying.

I haven't any good alternatives to the way it's done. Selling CDs will increase dramatically the costs (the CD itself with the case + shipping costs, including personnel costs). Selling on well known stores (that might benefit of higher trust from the consumers) may also reduce the margins, particularly since there might be some attempts of price squeezing.

About ads. I must say that ads annoy me (and I hate those blinking ads). So, I was happy when I found out that Firefox has Adblock Plus. As more people do what I do, the revenue of ads will be lower. Ingame ads might be an alternative, provided they aren't all over the place. I can accept a preloader ad (no blinking, please) and a couple of discrete ads in the main menu or in the high score table or in the middle of the game. More ads than that and I might feel too much pushed around and end giving up on the game.

Most people don't care about supporting the developer that much if they can cut it cheap.
Unfortunately, I think that I'm included in that category. I hope that Craig is successful but there is a (low?) limit to how much I'm willing to spend. I just hope that my bug tracking and suggestions are helpful.
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CraigStern

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2010, 10:13:45 AM »

I would definitely give you ten dollars if we met in person, but the current buying method is really too clunky and I don't see the point of it.

What's so clunky about it? BMT Micro's process is no different than ordering off Amazon.com, or any other web store. You just put in your credit card info and voila, there's your download link. It's certainly faster and more efficient than coming to meet me in person so you can slip me a ten. :P

Also, Ert: did you know that you can order the game on CD off BMT Micro? They burn it themselves at your request, then ship it to you.
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Ertxiem

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2010, 05:08:05 PM »

Also, Ert: did you know that you can order the game on CD off BMT Micro? They burn it themselves at your request, then ship it to you.

Oh. Sorry, I forgot about that. Now that you mention it, I recall reading in the old forums that we could also buy a CD. (So, one less layer of virtuality! :) )
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Presentiment

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2010, 07:26:55 PM »

Although getting the best of two worlds is quite hard, I think that the free demos might help spread the world about the games.

I don't know how the ad revenue works, so please correct me if I'm wrong. A free playable demo of about 10MB to 20MB can be put on popular websites that might generate some add revenue. And, evidently, the demo itself would work as an add to the full game.

I was shocked when Craig decided to sell TPA2. And I would have preferred that TPA2 would be free (as I guess anyone else wanted, even Craig). But everyone has to make a living, and from Craig's (brief) comments, it was clear that the sales of TPA2 generated more revenue than the ad revenue from all the other TRPG games (again, please correct me if I'm wrong). Therefore, I understand Craig's choice on selling his games from now on.

Excluding minors from the market is indeed a problem. I don't really see a nice way out, other than the minors asking someone to give them the game or to buy it for them.

Another problem raised is related to the way the games are sold. Most online stores aren't (fully) trusted, at least in the country where I live. Not because they trick people but because the direct human contact is missing. The problem may be bigger in this case because we aren't buying a CD (or something else physical) - we are buying a link to be able to download. So, again, it's another layer of virtuality that may give people some discomfort on buying.

I haven't any good alternatives to the way it's done. Selling CDs will increase dramatically the costs (the CD itself with the case + shipping costs, including personnel costs). Selling on well known stores (that might benefit of higher trust from the consumers) may also reduce the margins, particularly since there might be some attempts of price squeezing.

About ads. I must say that ads annoy me (and I hate those blinking ads). So, I was happy when I found out that Firefox has Adblock Plus. As more people do what I do, the revenue of ads will be lower. Ingame ads might be an alternative, provided they aren't all over the place. I can accept a preloader ad (no blinking, please) and a couple of discrete ads in the main menu or in the high score table or in the middle of the game. More ads than that and I might feel too much pushed around and end giving up on the game.

Most people don't care about supporting the developer that much if they can cut it cheap.
Unfortunately, I think that I'm included in that category. I hope that Craig is successful but there is a (low?) limit to how much I'm willing to spend. I just hope that my bug tracking and suggestions are helpful.

If Craig's aim is really to earn money, he needs to get a reputation, and bigger fanbase,and then apply for a seed fund (which would make all the sales from TRPG games seem infinitesimal), and start hiring devs to work on the games.

Which doesn't seem to be happening.
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Zhampir

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2010, 08:24:07 PM »

Facebook anybody? lolz
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Presentiment

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2010, 08:40:54 PM »

That's what I was thinking when I said different platforms.

If he wants to earn money o' course.
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Zero Mission

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2010, 08:55:49 PM »

What is a seed fund exactly?  What exactly are you suggesting a small developer should be doing?
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Presentiment

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2010, 10:34:28 PM »

A seed fund is a kind of loan.
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Zhampir

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2010, 10:51:56 PM »

and how exactly would be indebted to somebody in any way help increase profit?
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CraigStern

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2010, 09:28:25 AM »

I think he's suggesting that I get funding from an investor of some kind, then use it to hire artists, programmers, etc. to work on the game for a more mainstream release. But of course, there's no way I could then go on to release the game for free afterwards. No sane investor would bet their money on that.
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Zhampir

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2010, 01:08:05 PM »

Exactly my thinking. It'd be like the disaster of TSE2, except (very likely) worse.

Flash RGPs just don't get to a big enough audience to make enough of a profit to be able to support a team. Marketing for flash, which is mostly restricted to 2D elements, is extremely poor. Good luck getting something like Game Informer to tell the world.

Those companies that make big money and spend big money on making their games also have an extremely large team, with sequels that come out maybe 2 or 3 years later.

To make a flash game comparable to something like Star Wars KOTOR (one of my favorites in RPGs) or Morrowind (another favorite), one would need a massive team.

Granted, there is a very very VERY slim chance it could work, but at this point in time virtually nobody would risk their money on it, and certainly no creator would want to risk it.

Besides that there is another issue to consider: many flash developers like their ability to say "that game right there, you know, the one you love, I made it, it was all my idea." In other words they take great pride in their work. Once you work with a large team, it no longer becomes your work. All the freedoms, the individuality, the personal connection you get with the creator is gone.

In the future, Flash RPGs may be big (and they've certainly grown so far), but as of right now, it's just futile to try to jump into it like that.
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Presentiment

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Re: Ads, not sales, is the key
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2010, 08:26:50 PM »

I think he's suggesting that I get funding from an investor of some kind, then use it to hire artists, programmers, etc. to work on the game for a more mainstream release. But of course, there's no way I could then go on to release the game for free afterwards. No sane investor would bet their money on that.

What I was thinking was getting investors' attention with free games, and once you have a team on it you can start charging money on new games.
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