This will be our manifesto. Daniel Cook of Lost Garden has just posted the first installment of his epic Flash Love Letter, an attempt to provide an answer for why Flash game development, despite its amazing potential, fails to produce awesome, world-changing games. And of course, a plan to get Flash games back on track.
"I think that you, Flash game developers, are some of the most talented and inspirational people working today in game development. Your passion for building games burns so incredibly brightly. Your ability to quickly make and distribute games is second to none. You hold immense potential to transform the future of games."
The first part is about making money with Flash games. A popular subject these days. When developers can't make a living making Flash games, there's going to be a lot fewer people making games, and a lot fewer good games out there. So, why don't Flash games make much money, and how can we change that?
"There is one obvious fact: the entire flash ecosystem is driven by low quality advertising. Piddling amounts of ad money flows into the developer's pocket through a variety of obfuscated middlemen."
Daniel Cook is definitely in favor of just asking players for money, instead of getting them to click on ads. It's easier than you'd think! And it pays a lot better than ads. You might even be able to make a living off of it.
"When game developers ask for money, they are usually pleasantly surprised. Their customers give them money; in some cases, substantial amounts."
"Many Flash developers insist on giving away everything for free. Stop devaluing your work and start creating a premium offer."
"We live in a capitalist society so people understand the concept of buying something. Don't ask for a donation. Don't ask players to 'give you what they feel like giving.' People will think you are a charity case and in my experience your revenues will drop by 90% or more. Give the offer a specific price, be it $10 or 200 gold in your favorite virtual currency."
So how do you actually get the money? On the subject of payment providers and portals, Daniel Cook has some advice, and some excellently developer-centric opinions...
"A payment provider should be a reliable commodity service, not a major business partner."
"The ideal payment service is one with low margins, low switching costs, no branding and APIs that let you cheaply and easily tie into generic, developer controlled login and storage services."
"The market is highly fragmented (30,000 portals!) and no portal owns more than 5% of the players. At this point in the market, developers have the ability to walk away from the greedy minority. Suggest reasonable terms where portal keep their existing ad revenue and you keep all in game revenue. If they balk, leave the bastards to rot."
Oh snap! Take that, portals! ;)
The most important takeaway from Part 1 is this:
"If you make a great game played for hours on end by millions of people, you deserve to be paid. Stop worrying about how people 'might' react. Ask a fair price for the value that you provide."
Can't wait for Part 2. :D