Indie Giving 2017 Survival Guide

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The indie giving event is a special program designed to help independent game developers attend the 2017 Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. Everyone who signs up will get the chance to take part in a charity event to support a local organization!  

The goal is to show gamers know how to have fun, and give back. This year we’ll be helping the San Francisco Parks Conservancy clear out many invasive species from the Presidio of San Francisco. The Presidio is home to 20 rare plant species, including five protected by the Endangered Species Act. Participating in habitat restoration by removing invasive species and re-vegetating with native plants is the most proactive way to help conserve this landscape. Our work will be outdoors, and last a few hours, which includes meet and greets beforehand, and closing comments afterward.

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What is Provided?

  • Water Bottles
  • Work T-Shirts
  • Tools needed for event

What do I need to bring?

Just yourself, and your willingness to work.

What if I want to bring something?

We’re able to accommodate 1 backpack per person, so feel free to bring along anything you think you’ll need. Keep in mind, you’re responsible for anything you bring with you.

Possible items:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Jacket
  • Football or Frisbee

What should I wear?

We’ll be working outside, so please wear closed toe shoes and pants you don’t mind getting dirty. Please no shorts or sandals.

How many people will be there?

We usually have around 30 or so people helping out, so there’s always someone from the gaming industry to chat and team up with.


Signing up for Indie Giving also includes an Indie Games Summit GDC Pass:

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For more information, check out the GDC website for details

Sign up for Indie Giving today at indiegiving.com!

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Community Spotlight – Sonny developer Krin Juangbhanich

FGL Community Spotlight – “Sonny” 

 

The Community Spotlight returns to highlight a recent release from a mobile developer in the FGL community.

We asked Krin about his new release “Sonny” and got his thoughts on modern game development.

 

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FGL: Welcome to the Spotlight, Krin! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with game development

Krin: My name is Jakrin Juangbhanich, and I first got into game development when I was 13 or 14. I had the thought to turn one of my highschool teachers (someone that wasn’t very popular with the students) into a boss fight. It was a very short game, and once the teacher was defeated, she blew up like a Megaman X boss. From there, I developed games as a hobby. I didn’t have any background in Computer Science, so I had to learn by just ripping apart example projects and copy pasting things a lot.

Between 2004 and 2010, I made a few Flash games that gained popularity on Newgrounds and ArmorGames: Sinjid, Crimson Warfare, Flight, Colony, and Sonny. Flash games were only starting to become big, so I guess there wasn’t that much competition at that time. That’s how my games were able to get so much exposure, and it really encouraged me to do something better than what I had done before. That’s how I grew my skills over the years, and that’s how I met all the amazing people that I’m working with today.

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FGL: We’re very excited you brought your latest project “Sonny” to mobile.  For fans new to the series, tell us about the Sonny franchise

Krin: The first Sonny game was originally a Flash game about a zombie who wakes up tries to find out who he was. The gameplay was a linear turn based combat RPG, with core focus being on the skills and buffs. It was immediately really popular, and to be honest I’m not sure why either. The game is really easy to learn, and I think people enjoy leveling up skills and items in general. Maybe it was the weird environments and story, or the voice acting. The music was incredible too (courtesy of David Orr – thanks mate!), so I guess it was a combination of those things.

What really surprised (and motivated) me was all the people who wrote in the comments or forums who were really into the game. They were talking about strategies, skill builds, and the story. It really made me so happy to know that I was able to create that kind of entertainment and value for other people. That was when I started to seriously consider game development as a career.

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FGL: As a highly successful Flash developer, what was it like making the switch to mobile?

Krin: Prior to Sonny, I made another mobile game called Gemini Strike. It was the first mobile game I ever made, and the first game made using Unity. Double whammy! It was so challenging and uncomfortable at first. I chose to do a space shooter game because I always feel that is the best type of game to make when learning a new platform. But the project eventually grew into a space shooter with procedurally generated loot and RPG mechanics and a massive story script. I had a lot of fun on it, and it was a great project. When that game was done, the very same team began to work on the new Sonny game.

Even with the previous exposure to Unity and mobile, there were still many challenges. Not having vector graphics, or a Movieclip animation system like in Flash meant that we couldn’t just clone the game. We had to re-think how a lot of things worked, but also keep it feeling true to the original. The same was true with gameplay. Sonny was very popular back when it was released in 2007, but now it’s 2016 and the players will have higher expectations. The big design challenge for me was to bring in something fresh, but with the same flavour.

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FGL: Do you have any advice for new game developers or developers looking to make the switch from web / browser gamedev to the mobile space?

Krin: Every developer is different and has their own story! But if you’re like me, you are an impatient creator. You get bored if you spend too much time learning or reading and not seeing results. You’d prefer to hack something together and have it work, than spending time to do it the ‘right’ way (bad habit, I know!). We’re like the hares of the fabled race. We’ll burst out the gate sprinting, but then stop dead down the track. Whether it is from laziness, or lack of energy, or willpower, it doesn’t matter.

But eventually to grow, you have to be patient. Learning a new technology or trying something new can take time. It can feel like a step backwards at first. So I think the key is not to give up, but just switch the approach. Stop being the hare for a while, and be the tortoise! Just make slow and steady progress, and bit by bit you’ll get where you want to be. Even if some technologies get obsolete, there are many more skills you’ll gain along the way that will be useful forever.

 

FGL: Where can your fans follow you and get updates on your games?

Krin: I’m in the process of re-creating my blog. In the meantime, my most active channel for updates or conversation is my twitter – @krin_jj! I My shoutouts are to my team (David, Jet, Panit, Akhanan!), to ArmorGames and all the support they’ve given me (Dan, Ferret, Sean, Tass, Dora!) and to all the amazing people I don’t know who create all the free YouTube video tutorials, podcasts, and answers on Stack Overflow. Thanks guys!

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I’d like to thank Krin and Armor Games for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. You can download “Sonny” now HERE. If you have any other questions for Krin, you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/krin_jj or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below or send us an email at info@fgl.com.

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Enhance™ News: Phunware partnership

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Enhance™ adds Phunware support

FGL is pleased to announce that Enhance™ has been updated to fully support Phunware Advertising!  With Phunware, Enhance™ users now have access to high-quality ads and flexible monetization options all with the simplest, fastest SDK implementation Enhance™ provides.

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Phunware currently works with 70% of the comScore 1000 advertisers to deliver quality ads and higher eCPMs with ad options including rich media, video, display, native and more—all while maintaining a smooth user experience.  Use Enhance™ to try out Phunware Advertising in your app today!

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Enhance November News and Notes

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Enhance Comes to iOS 10

FGL is pleased to announce that Enhance™ has been updated to fully support iOS 10!

iOS 10 came with a requirement to support IPv6, which broke a lot of SDKs. We have fixed Enhance™ to be compliant with this requirement and are now vetting our supported SDKs to make sure they support iOS 10.

Some users reported issues with iOS 10 upon launch, and these have now been investigated and fixed! Enhance™ will continue being the fastest way to implement SDKs on Android as well.

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 AdMob Banners Made Easy

AdMod Banners have been added to the Enhance™ managed process.  AdMob is one of the world’s largest mobile advertising platforms, serving billions of mobile banner and text ads every month.

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New SDKs Now Supported!

inMobi – Access premium demand sources from the best performance, brand, and commerce advertisers.  InMobi’s advanced targeting capabilities allow advertisers to reach and bid differentially for high value user segments, enabling you to maximize yield based on your highly qualified audience.

 

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Appodeal – Appodeal sets a new standard for mobile ad monetization.  Their comprehensive mobile app monetization solution for developers maximizes your returns from top-performing ad networks.  Read more about this partnership HERE

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Enhance™ News: Appodeal partnership

newsandnotes Enhance™ adds Appodeal support

FGL is pleased to announce that Enhance™ has been updated to fully support Appodeal Intelligent Ad Mediation!

Appodeal sets a new standard for mobile ad monetization and their powerful SDK is now available to all developers via Enhance™.

With the Appodeal SDK, Enhance™ now offers a comprehensive mobile app monetization solution for developers seeking to maximize their returns from top-performing ad networks.

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Check out this Appodeal blog post for more details on this exciting new addition to the Enhance™ family of SDKs!

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FGL’s $50 App Promotion Is LIVE!

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FGL’s revolutionary, patent pending Enhance™ process injects SDK code directly into compiled iOS and Android apps with just a few clicks. You can now integrate your favorite 3rd-party mobile services without having to touch an SDK ever again.

We think you’ll love Enhance as much as we do, so we’re paying you to try it out. All you have to do is Enhance™ your Android or iOS app with any mobile service you want, then publish your app to Google Play or the App Store as you normally would, and we’ll send you $50. That’s it!

  1. Sign up or login to Enhance HERE
  2. Enhance one of your apps by integrating at least one mobile service (it takes just a couple of minutes)
  3. During the Enhance process, be sure to check the ‘opt-in’ box for the promotion
  4. Our QA team will test the app to make sure it meets our quality standards
  5. Once approved, upload your app to Google Play or the App Store
  6. After 30 days, we send you $50 for simply using Enhance!

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To be eligible for the promotion, your app must first pass a basic quality check. The app must be completed, working, polished, and contain all the typical components of a successful app.

For more information on the promotion, visit this page or drop us a line at info@fgl.com

 

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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

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ZeroCode – Integrate SDKs without writing a single line of code

Enhance is already the best tool for getting 3rd party mobile services into your app quickly, but it just got even better. With ZeroCode, you can inject certain mobile services into your app without needing to add anything to your project, or even write a single line of code! You can literally integrate them in a few simple clicks.

As you go through the normal Enhance process, you’ll notice 2 new ZeroCode options to choose from. Pre-roll ads and persistent banner ads. You can integrate these ad formats into any iOS or Android app within a couple minutes. We encourage you to try them out on one of your apps to see how fast it really is.

 

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The pre-roll ad placement is fully managed by our dedicated ad ops team, who are constantly mediating ad networks to optimize revenue performance. Since this placement is managed by us, you can check your earnings from the income dashboard on Enhance. We pay you directly every 30 days.

The persistent banner placement is managed by you, and currently only supports Admob (this is expanding soon). You’ll be able to enter whether you want the banner fixed to the top or bottom of your app, as well as have the ability to input your banner ID code from Admob, and choose the size of the banner. You can then alter ad type and refresh rate directly from Admob’s dashboard.

 

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These are just two ZeroCode options out of many we’re hard at work building, and they show just how powerful Enhance really is. We’re excited about the future of Enhance and its ZeroCode options, and we hope you are too!

Have you tried Enhance yet? Click here to go to Enhance.

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Enhance™ Spotlight: Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon

Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon

Before FGL got involved, Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon was a good mobile game that was struggling to find an audience.  Elsper, the developer of Clicker Mine, had managed to get some initial players to install his game, but he wasn’t able to get that player base to grow.  What’s more, the player base that was there wasn’t monetizing well.

 

This is something FGL sees over and over again:  a good game that needs a little help to be successful.

 

First statistics

The first thing FGL did was look at the game’s retention data, which turned out to be impressive:

47% of the players return on the day after the installation. (D1 retention)

19% of the players play for at least 1 week. (D7 retention)

8.7% stay in the game for a month (D30 retention)

 

The usual benchmarks FGL advises developers to hit for retention is around the 40%/20%/10% mark (D1/D7/D30), so the Clicker Mine data was very promising.  It was recommended Elsper to move to FGL’s Mobile Platform to leverage the full power of Enhance.

 

Working Together with FGL

Although the game was well-made, the goal was to make it perfect. FGL first provided better art for the game:

Clicker Mine Graphics

 

 

To improve monetization, Elsper used the rewarded videos from the networks supported by Enhance. This type of ad is received well by the players and can be seamlessly integrated into the gameplay.

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In idle games there are plenty of opportunities to utilize these ad formats and they performed very well in Clicker Mine.

 

Growing the Player Base

The task of increasing the game’s audience was the next piece of the puzzle. The solution included:

  • AppStore optimization of the game page
  • Cross-promotion from the other 2,500 mobile games which FGL has on various publisher accounts
  • Involvement of game promotion services

 

Results:

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By pushing users to the app, and constantly A/B testing icons, descriptions, and screenshots in the store listing, FGL was able to get significant traction so that organic installs grew to the point where marketing was no longer needed.

 

In parallel, since FGL was fully managing the ads in the game, CPMs increased and the developer started to see a huge boost in daily revenue.

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Plans for the Future

Following the success of the game on Google Play, Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon will soon be published to the iOS AppStore.  Enhance helped Clicker Mine Idle Tycoon grow its player base and monetize its users more effectively.  If you’d like to experience the fastest way to implement SDK’s like Clicker Mind Idle Tycoon, try Enhance at enhance.fgl.com today!

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Amazon Underground – Insights from a Casual Game publisher

Amazon Underground – Insights from a Casual Game publisher 

By: Martine Spaans

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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.

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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.

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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.

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