Flash Marketplace Shutting Down

A very brief history of FGL

When FGL started – almost 10 years ago now, as FlashGameLicense – it was a marketplace for the Flash gaming industry.  Flash game developers could find sponsors for their games, and publishers could search through thousands of games to find great content.  The site and community grew very quickly.  I don’t think it’s boastful to say that FGL was ubiquitous in the Flash game industry.  If you made a Flash game, you knew about FGL.

But things have changed. There was a time, years ago, where we would see developers using FGL making over $400,000 a month with Flash games.  Last month, we saw closer to $5,000.  Partly this is due to changes we’ve made, but mostly it’s due to the changing market.  Mobile gaming grew at a startling pace, and the PC gaming market has become more accessible than ever.  When you add in browser companies’ desire to limit (or eliminate)  3rd party plugins like Flash, you can see where the Flash gaming industry (and web gaming in general) has taken quite a beating.

Luckily, FGL has always been about developers – not about any specific technology.  When we saw mobile gaming getting more popular we started adding new services to help developers on mobile.  Some of those didn’t work out: Flash on mobile-web, the mobile app marketplace, and HTML5, for example.  But others did extremely well: our Mobile Platform, where we help developers monetize and market their mobile apps, and most recently Enhance, where we help developers integrate with third party services with no need to implement SDKs.  In fact, this year we will make developers more money than we ever have in the past, and that’s with almost no revenue from Flash games, which was our sole source of revenue just 5 years ago. FGL will continue to be about developers.  So if another technology or market comes along, we’ll be there to help developers. That said, right now we believe focusing on mobile makes the most sense.

The FGL Flash Marketplace

A little over a week ago our Flash bidding Marketplace went down due to some server issues.  As we dug into the issues we found that it would take considerable work to get things back up.  Also, we noticed that there wasn’t a large outcry.  If the Marketplace was down for even a couple of hours, 5 years ago, my email inbox would be full of concerns and complaints.  Now… I think in total we received a dozen inquiries.

We built the marketplace nearly 10 years ago, and much of that code hasn’t changed.  And much of it was built for the hardware it ran on.  Hardware now that is so out of date it isn’t supported by updated versions of the software running on it.  As an example, when the “heartbleed” bug came out we weren’t at risk because our system is so old it had never introduced the update that carried the bug!  So, when the server recently went down, and we determined it couldn’t be brought back up we found we were in a really rough spot.  We’d have to re-write much of the code that was written nearly a decade ago.

When we considered this, and looked at the lack of use and lack of money flowing through the Flash marketplace, we decided that we would not bring the marketplace back up.

Honestly, the writing has been on the wall for some time.  And I think many other companies would have taken the site down much sooner, especially since we are doing so well on mobile.  But, there’s nostalgia there for me.  I’m extremely biased because, 10 years ago, Adam and I started this whole thing with that site.  I wrote the first bits of code for the site in my living room.  My developer account is still the first one listed in our database.  I think I remember every developer and sponsor who signed up in the first months, if not year, and I can remember every single game that was uploaded.  In fact, Adam and I were the very first Game Reviewers, so we played every game – good or bad! – that went through us.  I’ve easily played thousands of Flash games 🙂 So, you can see why I might find reasons to delay shutting down the Flash marketplace.  But, the time has come.  Bittersweet as it is: we can no longer support the Flash marketplace, but we are helping mobile developers make more money than ever.

The Good News

The good news is the community is still as lively as ever.  Our forums went down briefly when the marketplace went down, but we have them back up.  Unlike the marketplace, we received lots of complaints about the forum being down.  You can find the forums here.

We know that there are still Flash developers and sponsors and we want to support them as much as we can. So we will also still support Flash developer and sponsor interaction through the forums.  Feel free to make deals and meet each other there!

Also, if you are a mobile developer, or are thinking of making a mobile game, as I’ve mentioned we are seeing a lot of great success there.  I suggest you check out Enhance.

And, we’re always open to feedback.  Feel free to email us at info@fgl.com

Best,

Chris and the whole FGL Team

Read More

Amazon Underground – Insights from a Casual Game publisher

Amazon Underground – Insights from a Casual Game publisher 

By: Martine Spaans

amazon-underground

In August 2015, Amazon announced their “Underground” project. I was attending PAX Dev at that time and immediately got a great insight in the industry’s opinion. Developers did not seem thrilled. Was this “earn per minute” model really going to work? Hesitation overall.

Well, as one of Underground’s launch partners our games have been live on the store for roughly 10 months. I’m happy to share some insights.

 

Short version: It works for games that otherwise have a low ARPU but a long-lasting engagement.

Keep reading if you want to learn the details.

 

All my games are “casual”, like Hidden Object, Match-3 or Puzzle games. Casual games usually have a lower player-to-payer conversion rate than genres that are considered midcore or hardcore, like strategy, battle or RPG’s. (We’ll leave the philosophy behind that for another article.)

With a conversion rate lower than 2% I rely on ads quite a bit for a steady income. And how do you show lots of ads to your players without annoying them? By spreading those ads over many hours of entertainment.

hiddenobjecthomemakeover

So let’s take a look at “Hidden Object Home Makeover” for example. There are 3 titles in this series so far. They all mainly rely on ad income. To complete all the goals in the game you only have to play for about 10 hours, however, the game does not end there. To get all achievement and unlocks you have to play for at least another 10 hours. And then still you can choose to continue to play, endlessly. Home Makeover 1 is about 3 years old, but still has a lot of fans that play it over and over again.

Let’s say the average player plays the game for about 10 hours.

If they play the Google Play version they will watch roughly 8 video ads per hour, so that makes a total of 80 ad impressions. With a CPM of $12 that will back out to $0.96 in revenue.

With FGL’s Enhance the eCPM’s for Rewarded Videos average around $30. If these users watch 8 rewarded videos per hour throughout the game, the revenue will go up to $2.40, but do note that this is heavily dependent on fillrate so in reality your revenue will probably be a bit lower.

On Amazon Underground you receive $0.002 per minute. 10 Hours is 600 minutes, adding up to $1.20 revenue from this player, guaranteed.

 

Sounds wonderful? Well, there are some good things and bad things about the Underground program. The bad is easy to avoid if you know where your game stands.

 

The ugly bits:

  • Zombie apps. With all apps for free and no fear for ads, it’s easy shopping here. Amazon Underground has a high rate of “zombie apps” that are downloaded and never opened. Compare it to a Steam Sale, but then without a credit card statement guilt-tripping you into playing all those wonderful games.
  • An Underground release can actually hurt your sales on other platforms. Especially on the Amazon App Store. Our main success on Underground has come from old games that were already released over a year ago and were way past their sales-peak. In one case we released the Underground-version at the same time as the regular premium version. Sales figures were low.
  • Underground is not available everywhere. For a long time it was only in the US. Rollout now started in Western Europe as well. Underground is not an all-round solution yet. It is simply not an alternative for Google Play yet because it’s too tiny.
  • Underground will not work for your beautifully crafted story-driven game that can be completed within 3 hours. 3 Hours x $0.002 = $0.36 per player.  If 36 cents is the maximum revenue you can get out of your biggest fans, your revenue for average players will turn out to be much lower. It will also not work for your idle clicker that requires only 2 minutes of engagement per day. That’s an ARPDAU* of $0.004

 

Luckily, there are reasons for rejoicing.

  • Engaged Underground players do spend more time in this completely free version of our app than players who are using the regular version with ads. We suspect that is because there are no ads breaking up the game experience or no F2P energy system holding them back.
  • Underground players seem to be very aware of the fact that they are getting free content. On our games we see less bad reviews and less complaints about lack of updates.
  • If your game has been in the Underground store for a few weeks, the download numbers will go down as the novelty will wear off. However, revenue turns out to be a steady stream for us. So once you got the player’s attention and are not lost in a sea of icons on their device, the players are loyal.
  • Speaking of being lost in a sea of icons… There is far less competition in the Underground store. Currently there are about 1300 Games in the US Underground store. Much more manageable than any other major Android store.

 

* ARPDAU = Average Revenue Per Daily Active User.

chart1

 

Slow but steady growth. Over the last 6 months we nearly doubled our average daily Underground revenue without changing anything about the games.

 

So here’s my advice.

  • Is your game a Free-2-Play title? Don’t jump on Underground immediately. After a while you will probably see your revenue is going down and the peak is over. Especially if you didn’t build it with regular content updates in mind. Your most engaging users have had their fill and spent whatever the game was worth to them. At this point you can decide to throw in some marketing budget and attract fresh players, or…let Amazon do it for you!

 

Lastly, many kudos and thanks to FGL who supported me throughout the process by taking care of all technical bits of submitting my games to Amazon Underground. If you’d like FGL to help you to get your games on Underground too, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Read More

FGL Community Spotlight – Tamalaki’s $10k+ month!

 

Mobile games publisher ‘Tamalaki‘ has been one of the most successful participants in FGL’s mobile platform and recently hit a big milestone.  We caught up with Martine Spaans to chat about tech, monetization and what’s hot on mobile right now.

——————————————-

FGL_Brian: Before we get started, I wanted to congratulate you! You’ve hit several big milestones recently as a mobile publisher, including $10,000+ monthly mobile earnings last month.  Is that $10,000 the total of what all your developers made last month?

Tamalaki: Thanks! That’s Tamalaki’s share only. Typically we take 10-20% depending on how many games a developer publishes with us.  That means the developers we work with made nearly $50,000 last month.

FGL: That’s huge.  You’ve also had two different games (Rory’s Restaurant and Blackstone) make it into the Google Play top 10.  Do you attribute those successes to anything new that you’ve been trying recently?

Tamalaki: We’re always trying out new marketing partners and advertising partners in search for the best results. In order to succeed in this market you constantly need to reinvent your business since the ecosystem of the app stores changes so quickly. Thanks to the strong cross-promotion of all games that use the FGL Mobile Services we were able to build up a big following of Hidden Object fans over the last few months. We learned how to effectively release our marketing actions at the right moment to hit that sweet spot up in the top lists.

FGL helps us out with pretty much everything in that regard.  Ad mediation layer, discovery and retention tools, QA, a complete and easy to use tracking dashboard, tech support, SDK support, distribution.   All these services really free us to focus on the game and strategy of the monetization vs. all the technical requirements.   On top of that, user acquisition is the HARDEST thing to achieve on mobile and FGL has lots of solutions in place to solve that.  I know that if we can get the metrics right in a game then FGL can bring 100,000s of players to it.

 

FGL: Hidden Object games must have been hot for you last month.  What kinds of games are you looking for these days?

Tamalaki: Since I started publishing in 2013 I specialized in Hidden Object games. I did try out some other kinds of games, but only the types of games that really resonate with my audience make sense for me to publish. So next to Hidden Object games I also put out Match-3 games, Point&Click Adventures, Puzzle games, Time Management, etc.

FGL: You’ve had a lot of experience with the ‘free-to-play’ game model.  Any tips or advice you can pass along to the FGL developer community?

Tamalaki: Focus on your core game loop. Most F2P games are eventually about letting the player “grind” (play the same content over and over again) for more coins/points. If that becomes a boring repetition, you will lose your players.

Also, your meta-gameplay should be interesting enough, because that is where people will eventually spend some money.

FGL: Do you feel like your hits monetized appropriately in this manner?

Tamalaki: Blackstone Mysteries is a great example.  The Hidden Object levels are fun to play, since they offer many different gameplay modes, level mastery challenges, a highscore list, etc. And every time it’s a surprise what reward you will get for completing a level.

Next to that the quests you get in the game are not the only meta-game system. There is also a Collections-system where you can earn Awards for completing item-collections. Check it out HERE and see what I mean Smile

FGL: Did you have to make any drastic changes to your monetization strategy once you realized the game was getting popular?

Tamalaki: Well, before we tried F2P we were mainly publishing Free games with Advertising revenue, and an ad-free premium version for 0.99USD.  That worked well, but those games mainly had a beginning and an end. Once the user reaches that end, they will no longer see ads, so they will no longer monetize. This will limit the lifetime value of a player. The maximum lifetime value was 99 cents when they would buy that upgrade.

By making a game endless, you will have endless opportunities to show a player ads. That’s something we mainly discovered through the release of Home Makeover 1 & 2. Our first Hidden Object game without an ending. At some point people started emailing me “I’m at level 275. When will this game end?” At that moment we realized that people love to play on and on as long as the game allows it. And that opens up a whole new range of advertising opportunities, like showing people a video ad in exchange for some coins or extra energy.

FGL: You ended up experimenting with a Reward Video in Rory’s Restaurant, correct?

Tamalaki: Like I said in the beginning, we’re always looking for additional marketing and advertising partners to increase the benefits for the developers we work with. When we started working with an ad provider that specialized in Rewarded Videos we were happily surprised with the great results. Our players love to watch a 20-second video or to answer a few questions in order to get more playtime or some extra coins in the game. We first tried this out with Rory’s Restaurant and it really boosted the game revenue significantly. We even got complaints from players who upgraded to the premium version of the game that they were missing out on these ads now, so we actually had to update the premium version too to show these rewarded videos (which will only open when the player agrees.)

FGL:  That sounds like a lot of work.  How do you know which company to use?  Do the videos have a consistent fill rate?

Tamalaki: Again, that is the great part about working with FGL.  They handle all the technical needs, sourcing many different providers, monitoring the inventory, etc. This lets me focus on the developer and on the strategy of the monetization. Of course we’re closely in contact with FGL about all the new things and partners we can try out together.

FGL: Thanks for taking the time to share this with the community today, Martine. Is there a good way for developers to get in touch with you?

Tamalaki: Sure! They can always PM me through FGL, or they can email me at martinespaans@gmail.com.

——————————————-

I’d like to thank Martine and the Tamalaki crew for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any questions for Tamalaki, post them in the comments below!  Know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight? Leave a comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or send us an email at info@fgl.com.

Read More

Mobile Platform Success Stories

FGL Mobile Platform Success Stories – an update on the Mobile Platform

Back in July we shared a success story from our Mobile Platform. Since then, we’ve had a few more games break the top 10 on various Play categories such as Top Free and Top New Free.  We intended to update everyone on these individual successes, but things have been growing so rapidly that we decided to do a larger write up instead.

The growth of FGL’s Mobile Platform

When we started FGL Mobile in late 2011 our goal was to help game developers and publishers in the mobile space, or looking to get into the mobile space, to distribute and monetize their games.  Our first plan of attack was to get games onto smaller markets and OEM channels so that we could build up market share and spread traffic through cross promoting games.

We had great success doing this. We built a system to help convert existing popular flash games to mobile, and we then sold them as premium titles across Nook, Amazon and a few other stores.  As you can see from the snapshot below, taken this month from the Nook store, our success in this area continues to this day.   3 out of the top 6 paid games are from the FGL Mobile Platform.

 

 

However, we’ve always known that, if done right, most of a developer’s revenue would come from the larger markets: Google Play and the Apple App Store.

So for the last year we have focused heavily on Google Play.  Our particular focus is on free games supported by ads since many of the indie developers we work with are used to that model, and premium game sales are almost non-existent these days.

Our foray into Google Play has been extremely successful.  As you can see in the graph below, the games going through the FGL Mobile Platform have enjoyed healthy growth in their revenues thanks to our Google Play efforts.  The different colors represent the different ways we monetize the games: various ad networks, in-apps, premium sales, etc..

 

One of the strengths of our system is that we now manage a portfolio of well over 1,000 games, and we are able to use cross promotions between them to push quality new titles up the charts to point where they can be discovered.

Game Promotion

We wanted to share some details of how we promote games on the Platform.  Unfortunately, not every game has a shot at ranking up the charts, but we give a fair chance to all the games in our system. New games are given enough cross promotion to give us a good sample of data. We carefully look at the usage metrics and natural organic discovery trends to identify titles, new and old, that can succeed.  When we find a title that has potential we put the bulk of our cross promotions towards it as well as targeted paid UA campaigns to push the game up the rankings.

Below are a few examples of this strategy.  You can see how the games shot up the ranking charts from the efforts of the FGL Mobile Platform:

 

One recent hit is a F2P game that published by Tamalaki, Blackstone Mysteries.  It hit #2 in the top new Free charts on September 2nd.

 

And here are some more games we’ve helped top the charts.

 

 

tripeaks10_v2.png

Currently we are looking for quality games that haven’t been able to achieve a significant audience.  If your game has an LTV per user > $.20 or averages over 6 sessions per install then please contact us.

For smaller games you will still need to go through a publisher but we are working on a self service platform which will open up the platform to all games in the near future.

We strongly suggest developers work with a publisher as we’ve found they can be invaluable to a game’s success.  We’d like to specifically point out Tamalaki (run by everyone’s favorite Martine Spaans) and Happy Planet Games.  Both have built out a huge portfolio with powerful cross promotion capabilities.

And, of course, you can use FGL.com to find a publisher.  Many publishers are willing to pay up front to get publishing rights to mobile games. And if you are a publisher interested in joining our Platform, please let us know! Our system is set up to publish games under a publisher name so you get the benefits of our system without sacrificing your branding.

You can find more information about the Mobile Platform here: https://www.fgl.com/mobile-platform/#devs

There are a lot of exciting things in the works.  Keep an eye out here for more news coming soon!

 

Read More