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.

 

placements2

 

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.

 

admob

 

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.

Reward Ad

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:

clicker installs

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.

clicker income

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

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.

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Pretio Interactive added to Enhance™

pretio logo

 

FGL is excited to announce a new ad mediation partnership with Pretio Interactive via FGL’s Enhance™ platform. Developers using Enhance™ can now access a new user-friendly revenue stream as an advertising option.

Pretio Interactive is a Moments-Based native advertising platform whose proprietary Achievement Moment technology serves premium brand rewards as prizes for positive game events across the hottest apps and games. Rewards not only increase in-app revenue – they improve user experience and retention! 55% of players who click on a Pretio Reward, will return to click again.

Here’s a look at the two rewarded ad placements Enhance users can choose when using Pretio:

 

Between Level: Congratulate Players for Leveling-up!

pretio-blog-01

With Pretio, developers can place a “Get Reward” opt-in button between each level. Upon opt-in, players will receive an interstitial reward offer. Players remain in-game through the entire reward experience.  

  • Opt-in rate: 5-7%
  • Average CTR: 13%
  • Average CPM: $7-$10
  • Fill: 100% Globally

 

End of Rewarded Video: Congratulate Players on their New Coins!

Double the revenue of each ad experience by placing a “Get Reward” opt-in after the completion of a Rewarded Video view. Upon opt-in, players will receive an interstitial reward offer. Players can choose to have rewards emailed to them and remain in-app, or visit an advertiser website for a quick and easy conversion.

  • Average opt-in rate: 5-7%
  • Average CTR: 17%
  • Average CPM: $12-$15
  • Fill: 100% Globally

Integrating Reward ads from Pretio via Enhance is fast, easy, and a good complement to other advertising strategies. Simply go to the Enhance partners page and turn Pretio rewards on.

 

Here’s How!

Enhance your App at enhance.fgl.com and Select “Handle Everything For Me”

pretio-blog-02

 

Follow the rest of Enhance’s fast and easy step-by-step process and you’ll have both of the above placements integrated in your app!

(To implement Pretio’s technology via the ‘choose SDKs myself’ option, contact bizdev@pretio.in and a representative will email you your credentials)

Enhance remains the fastest, easiest way to implement SDKs into your games and mobile apps. We’re excited to add Pretio’s non-incentivised rewards as a monetization option for Enhance developers seeking a more user-friendly ad experience for their games.

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Enhance™ 2.0 is here!

enhance2The newest version of Enhance™, the world’s fastest way to add SDKs to apps, is now up and running! The revolutionary technology has added many new features that not only give developers a fast way to add and test SDKs, but also gives them more control. Some of the new highlights:

 

iOS and Android supported

platforms-nocopy
Hello Apple! Yes, now you can use Enhance to rapidly deploy SDKs on iOS as well as Android apps. This was easily our most requested feature so we listened and delivered.

 

Support for more IDEs and languages.

ides-nocopy
Our Drag & Drop Library can be used with: Unity, Android (Java), iOS (Obj-C), OpenFL and Adobe AIR. Just drag the library into your project then add Enhance codes for interstitial, rewarded video or analytics (usually one line of copy&paste code per instance) and you’re done.

 

FGL or user managed ad-mediation.

mediate-nocopy
Have your ads managed by FGL and take advantage of our on-staff ad team. This means you don’t have to sign-up for any ad networks at all and mediation is changed daily to reflect the best paying ads! Also, FGL pays out net 30, so no more waiting for 6 moths to get paid.

Already signed-up for dozens of ad networks, have a crack team of ad specialists to optimize your revenue and don’t mind waiting for payment? No problem! You can use whatever networks you like and use our great mediation tool to optimize the way you want to.

 

Improved dashboard

dashboard
Cleaner, easier to read with more information just a click away. Check out app performance, manage your Enhanced apps, get paid and more. Less time and less hassle means more money for you.

 

Improved crash reporting

crashreporting
If your app is crashing, users are going to be uninstalling your app. Chasing down crash problems can be stressful, slow and will lose you money. With our crash reporting, you can find the issue quickly, remove the offending SDK, and be back up. In minutes.

 

More rewarded video and interstitial ad networks.

sdks-nocopy
We’ve partnered with even more ad networks to make sure your revenue keeps flowing. Add your favorite third party ad networks, analytics and more. We’re also adding providers at a constant pace, so your choices will only grow!

 

Check it out!

Rewarded video, interstitials, banners, analytics, crash reporting, mediation. In minutes. Go to enhance.fgl.com to upload your apk or ipa and see for yourself how easy and fast it is! Enhance™ is, as always, free for developers.

enhancebutton

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Mobile Success Story – Zombidle by Berzerk Studio

“One of the best idle games ever!”

It’s made by Berzerk Studio so what do you expect… the game is awesome”

“It’s pure fun because… well… zombies. It’s good to be bad!”

 

A few short months ago, the runaway indie mobile hit ‘Zombidle’ took everyone’s phones by storm.  Hundreds of thousands of downloads, a feature by Google Play and a sparkling 4.4 / 5 rating propelled Zombidle to critical and commercial success.

Now, a recent update has Zombidle poised to once again have users pillaging, looting and tapping their way through Hell.  FGL secured an exclusive interview with Zombidle creator Simon Lachance of Berzerk Studio to get his thoughts on mobile success, the game development process and more:

—————————————————————

FGL: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.  Let’s start by having you introduce yourself to the people at home.

Berzerk: I’m Simon Lachance, also known as “Lachhh” online.  I’m the co-founder of Berzerk Studio, a indie team making games on web, mobile and soon consoles for the past 8 years.  We made games like Sands of Coliseum, Berzerk Ball, Peacekeeper, SkyQuest.  We recently launched Zombidle on web and mobile hoping to fund the development of our first console games : Infernax and Just Shapes and Beats.

FGL: Now you’re a mobile game rockstar but you were one of the top web game earners on FGL as well.  What are your impressions of Mobile and Console development, coming from a Web game background?

Berzerk: Mobile looks a lot like Web games.  We saw the same trends of super quick gameplay fix on mobile.  People played web games when they were bored and had 1-2 minutes of free time.  So the games evolved in that direction.  The same happened on mobile.  Coming from a Flash background, it was easier to adapt to that audience.

It’s a completely new world. You’ve got to show your game to events like PAX,  meet people, brag about your game and get new contacts.  With Flash games you would just put your stuff on the internet and bam,  millions of people play it.  Now, you can’t do that.  You’ll end up with 2 years of development on something that you’re very proud of, but nobody hears about it so they don’t play it.

 

Enhance™ 2.0 is out! It’s simply the fastest way to integrate ads, analytics, reporting and more into your Android or iOS app! Check it out at enhance.fgl.com
FGL: So how did you utilize FGL’s services in ‘Zombidle’?
Berzerk:  We used FGL’s Enhance™ for our mobile ads.  It helped with monetization, tracking data from the game and analyzing it, educating me on the many, many, MANY ad networks out there,  and gave me contacts that finally ended up in a feature on Google Play.
  

FGL:  Any fun stories about the experience of getting featured on Google Play?

Berzerk: I have to thank you guys (FGL) for that actually.  You helped us get that feature and it got us 200k downloads in a matter of week,  thanks a lot!

During the feature,  I was in Thailand for a family trip.  I still worked 40 hours a week, but around Asia with my laptop.  On March 1st,  my wife got sick and we ended up in the Hospital (she’s fine, it was minor).  So I was alone with my three kids. In the middle of nowhere.  The day after, I received a mail saying “LACHHH YOU HAVE TO RELEASE ZOMBIDLE NOW KKTNXLOLBYE“.  I had to release the game we worked on for the past year that day, while having three kids running around.  We finally launched the game, and the day just after that, my accountant told me “Hey, you know about that money thing? Well there’s none left in the bank now.  Have fun”.
So! Wife sick, alone with three kids, in the middle of nowhere, rushing a release, while having zero money in the bank.   That’s how it went.
 –
We’re good now though!  Zombidle is a success, and it’s looking very good to expand the team to work on JSB and Infernax.
 
“How to present the option of watching an ads to the player is super important.”
FGL:  One of the best features of Zombidle from a user standpoint is that you’re constantly getting free boosts and gameplay rewards just for watching a single 30-second video ad.  What’s your opinion on the Rewarded Video ads that are so crucial to Zombidle’s gameplay? 
 –

Berzerk:  At first we didn’t think about rewarded videos. But we saw that it was becoming a good source of revenue for mobile games.  Since 90% of players never buy any InApp,  rewarded video is a good alternative to fund your game.

Now the key, (and I can’t stress this enough) is to make it enjoyable for the player.  Make it look like it’s part of the game.  Too often I saw mobile game with a simple “movie clapper” icon, with the text “+300 coins” aside.  It works,  but it hurt immersion.  I even saw time where it cuts the game in the middle of nowhere and go straight to an ad.  It pisses me off everytime.
 –
We wanted to have something that was embedded to the game’s universe. At that point I remembered an interview with Jason Rohrer.
 –
The guy made a game where you actually NEED to spend money to play one session.  Kinda like poker,  you have to bet a certain amount of money to even starts.  Now what he did is brilliant.  He changed the theme of its game to be “satanic”,  like an underground illegal evil game you should not be playing if you want to keep your soul. By setting that theme, it explain to the player that it’s normal that you have to pay,  the game’s a freaking pact with the devil. The player knows what he’s getting into, and accepts the challenge.
 –
So my point is, rewarded videos is the same. How to present the option of watching an ads to the player is super important.  It CAN be part of the game, and not hurt the immersion.  That’s how we ended up with “Devil’s deal”.  It’s popular knowledge that you are losing something when you do a deal with the devil,  so the player already know what he’s getting into.
 –
Second, it’s always optional.  If you don’t want it, don’t do it.  You won’t be penalized if you don’t do it.
 –
FGL:  Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today.  Do you have anyone you want to thank, shout-outs, or any projects to promote before we wrap up?
 
Berzerk: FGL of course! Thanks for helping us with Zombidle. It’s making us one step closer to making console games like we always dreamed of!

 —————————————————————

You can download Zombidle and play the new update now on Google Play and the App Store:

Get it on Google Play

Get it on the App Store

 

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Frequent Conference visitor, newbie at PAX…


I thought I pretty much knew what to expect at my first PAX. After all, I’ve been visiting game conferences for almost 10 years by now. How different could this one be? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

PAX Dev.
Two days of lectures and panels from developers for developers. I expected the usual kind of talks about app store ranking, monetisation, etc etc. Boy was I wrong. PAX Dev is a blackbox-event. This means that everyone agrees that no one will tweet or post or publish any lecture content in any way. Do we sign an NDA for this? No. It’s all based on trust. And here’s where the event starts to feel different already.

A few hundred of us gather in the big lecture room to listen in awe to Elan Lee’s kickoff keynote about Exploding Kittens and their rocky ride of becoming the most backed Kickstarter project ever. An incredibly inspirational talk to start the conference.

In between 2 packed days of lectures there are short coffee breaks where at first it feels hard to network. Usually I see plenty of familiar faces at conferences, but I don’t know anyone here. How do I start talking to people? And then someone walks up to me and says “Hi! How are you?” Oh, right. That’s how you start a conversation. I get reminded that everyone here is attending to learn, to be inspired, to share knowledge, and to share the passion for our industry. I don’t feel like an outsider anymore.

The rest of the days I attend talks from the people over at Kickstarter, Amazon and Google Play. Where else do you find people from these massively important platforms willing to share their data? Not many take-aways from a black-box event that I can share, but I can share one.

Ty Taylor, the creator of Tumblestone, talked about his automated level generator and how he designed it. He pointed out specifically that all this info is ok to share.

We conclude PAX Dev with a closing keynote by Raph Koster about Game Grammer. This is not a good time to zone out after a long day full of lectures. Raph drills down to the core of game design within a 1-hour talk. My head is spinning and I feel like I have to rethink all my game ideas. By the way, I highly recommend his book “A Theory of Fun”.

Next day. The real deal. PAX Prime!
A 4-day consumer event for gamers. With a few years of Gamescom experience I feel like I know what to expect. Big crowds of gamers, long lines for the most exciting upcoming releases, a loud show floor, and standing in line for lunch behind Link and Zelda.

A few points where PAX turned out to be different:
  1. Not just computer games. The event offers a nice balance between online and offline. The popularity of card games, tabletop RPG’s and board games is on the rise again. Magic: The Gathering had it’s own dedicated conference hall across the street, Pathfinder was being played by hundreds of people at the same time, and there were plenty of opportunities to just sit down and with strangers and play even stranger board games together. The new definition of social gaming, perhaps? 😉
  2. Lectures are well attended. Spread out over different lectures halls in the building, and even at different locations in the city. Developers talked about the process of how their game was made, professional gamers shared their experience, introduction talks to the game industry, the history of games, the future of games, games, games, games! Indeed, no lack of love for our industry here!
  3. Big publishers don’t rule the show. At Gamescom it’s quite normal to see 8-hour lines of people who hope to get a 10-minute gameplay demo of the next upcoming blockbuster. At PAX, those lines were relatively short. Also, at Gamescom the indie area always seems quite abandoned in a corner. At PAX, the Indie MEGAbooth and the PAX 10 were buzzing!

My personal favourites?
Well, I just downloaded Armello on Steam; a stunningly beautiful RPG/boardgame game by the Australian developer League of Geeks. For someone who grew up loving the Redwall books, this game ticks all the right boxes for me.

On a more realistic note is ECO, developed by StrangeLoopGames. A complex world builder based on community driven rules. I’m not only looking forward to this as a game but also as a social experiment, since users have to vote on laws and restrictions regarding hunting and building expansion for example. Will we treat this virtual world better than our real one? Their Kickstarter is still running!

Unfortunately I had to leave PAX Prime early. Too little time to play all those amazing games. At least I will still be able to check them out online!

It was time to go to the airport. Or wherever I would end up in one of those bad-ass Mad Max Ubers….

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FGL Community Spotlight – Game Jam winner 2D Heroes!

FGL Community Spotlight – 2D Heroes

In preparation for our big Game Jam with Playcrafting at the end of June, the Community Spotlight returns with the winner of May’s FGL Game Jam, 2D Heroes’ Andrew C Sandifer.  A veteran of the gamedev community, Andrew shared his insight and talked shop with us in a one-on-one interview this week.

——————————————

Q: Welcome to the Spotlight, sir!  Introduce yourself for the people watching at home.

2D: My name is Andrew C Sandifer. I run a studio called 2D Heroes.

Q: Tell us a little bit about 2D Heroes.  How many people are in your studio?  Where are you based out of?

2D: It’s myself and my managing partner, Luke. We’re based near Seattle, WA.

Q: First off, congratulations on winning the May Game Jam!  Your game (Speed Dotting) was really impressive, especially considering the time crunch you were under.  Do you have much experience building games in such a short amount of development time?

2D: Thanks! Most of my games are actually built under constraints posed by either a game jam or myself. I really like seeing what I can do with limited resources in a short time frame.

I think the longest I’ve spent on a finished game is still under 3 weeks.

Q: Despite the short dev time you give yourself per game, you’re one of the top earners (and current record holder for number of account renames) on FGL.  You’ve traditionally done well with Flash, but your game entry was made in Unity and I understand you’ve explored other formats as well.  As the earning potential of other markets expand, what formats do you see excelling in the near- and long-term for indie developers?

2D: I’m actually dipping my toes back into Flash after having been away for awhile. I’ve been working on a long-term PC game project for a while now, but I’ve been missing the rush of creating something from start to finish in under a week. I think mobile is and always will be strong for the people who can get their foot in the door, something I’ve been neglecting for far too long.

Q: Let’s talk about your highly addictive 1st place entry “Speed Dotting” for a bit.  What’s next for this game?  What’s your high score, and what’s the highest score you’ve seen anyone get?


2D: I’m actually working on polishing this game up as we speak. We’re going to release on Android early next month to see what happens. My highest score is 21, just shy of Luke’s 22 that he keeps bragging about every chance he gets.

Q: Bah! And here I was proud that I even got to 15!

Got any advice for newer game developers out there?

2D: The best advice I can give is to try to get your game on as many platforms as possible. Most of the new consoles have programs for getting indie developers involved, and with modern engines like Unity, doing so is easier than ever.

 

Q: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Andrew.  How can your legions of new fans contact / support you?

2D: Our website can be found at 2dheroes.com, twitter.com/2dheroes, facebook.com/2DHeroes, twitch.tv/2dheroes, you get the idea. Smile

Q: Easy to remember!  Any shout-outs / thank-you’s before we wrap up?

2D: A quick shout-out to my roommate and fellow independent developer, Robert Busey, for giving me the initial idea for Speed Dotting. The concept I was about to run with was far less addicting. Follow the progress of his Zelda-like, Sword ‘N’ Board, at facebook.com/SwordNBoardGame

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I’d like to thank 2D Heroes for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Andrew, you can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/2DHeroes, ‘Like’ him on Facebook at facebook.com/2DHeroes, check out his website at 2dheroes.com or post in the comments below! If you know someone who would be a good candidate for the Community Spotlight, comment below, send a PM to FGL_Brian or send us an email at info@fgl.com.

 

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FGL Community Spotlight – Talking Mobile with Rolltower Studios

The Community Spotlight returns this week, and we’ve got a very special guest.  We caught up with Patrick Goncalvez from Rolltower Studios to discuss their recent success in the mobile space
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Q: Welcome to the Spotlight, Patrick!  Let’s start with a quick introduction for those who may not know about you or your studio yet

Patrick at Rolltower: I’m Patrick and I run Rolltower Studios, a development studio primarily creating “freemium” Hidden Object games.  I’m currently the only full-time employee and contract out certain other parts of the business ( like artwork ) as needed.

Q: What made you decide to become a full-time game developer?  Did you start with mobile gaming or other formats?

Rolltower: Long ago when I was in grade school I got into programming because I like video games and wanted to make them on my own. I decided to study programming and work in the field later on, but didn’t really expect to end up working in the industry. But my first job out of college ended up being at a social gaming startup called Playdom, which made Facebook games. They were later acquired by Disney and I continued to work there for another year or two.

I always wanted to run my own business and felt I had a good understanding of the gaming industry and knew how the business worked, so I took a shot at running a small development studio and it’s worked out! This was about two years ago now, and the primary focus has always been mobile gaming as I see that as a huge, growing field.

Q: That’s great.  So how did you wind up working with Tamalaki for your most recent projects like Hidden Object Blackstone?

Rolltower: Blackstone was about a six month-long project of mine that I eventually released to several markets including Android. As its success started to pick up on some smaller markets like BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8, i noticed the Google and Amazon versions were just sitting there, pretty stagnant. Android is of course a huge market and I decided it made a lot of sense to find a publisher who could help me distribute a game that had been proven to be a success on other markets. I looked around at similar games in the Google Play store for publishers and came across Tamalaki that way around June or so of last year.

I introduced myself over email to Martine Spaans over at Tamalaki and explained my situation and it really seemed like a perfect publisher/developer fit. We met up in person at Casual Connect and moved forward with publishing plans from there, making some tweaks to the gameplay model for the Amazon and Google markets. Blackstone released through Tamalaki soon after that and has done quite well, and it’s been great working with Tamalaki. 🙂 Since Blackstone did so well, I doubled down on the Hidden Objects genre with Mystery Society, also with Tamalaki and FGL on the android platforms.

Q: Like you said, it has done really well!  What was the original montization plan for Blackstone, and how did you have to adjust it to reach this level of success?

Rolltower: Blackstone’s original monetization plan revolved around selling in-game coins and gems through in app purchases. Those coins and gems could then be used to purchase hints, collection items, access to more levels, etc. that could otherwise also be earned by playing the game and collecting them over time.

That worked okay, but FGL and Tamalaki had a lot of success with the ad-based revenue model, around which users view and interact with advertisements to earn in game rewards.  Since Blackstone has a flexible economy, these offers could be easily added to the existing game as an additional way for users to acquire coins and gems faster than grinding and without making an in app purchase.

Q: And from the reviews, it seems like your players really appreciate that option

Rolltower: That’s right! Since some types of players prefer to pay a premium for an ad free experience while others prefer viewing advertisements for in game rewards, Blackstone’s monetization plan now involves both options. Users do seem to enjoy this option and it also increases revenue for the developer. Our overall revenue per user increased 2-3x!

Q: So, what’s next for Rolltower?  Any new projects, or are you going to continue updating Blackstone with more new content?

Rolltower: Blackstone and Mystery Society are going to continue receiving new content and features throughout the year. Mystery Society is playing a little bit of “catch-up” as a new game without as many scenes and collections, so it’s getting most of the attention right now. But the goal is to set up a regular set of content updates between the two, so long term players don’t run out of things to do.

There are definitely going to be new games this year, too. I haven’t quite decided on the next set of plans yet, but I do like to add some big improvements with each new game. There will probably be a new Hidden Object game in next few months with some new gameplay aspects that really make it stand out.

Also, we’re in the process of translating Mystery Society into a few different languages. We think its a game with fantastic potential international appeal, and we’d really like to increase the game’s audience that way.

Q: Those sound like great additions.  You’re really keeping busy!  We usually like to wrap up these spotlights by asking for some advice you can give new devs.  Are there any tips you can give a new Mobile game developer about developing in the mobile space?

Rolltower: The main thing that really comes to mind is to take a look at what successful games are doing. You’ll find a lot of very different games are doing a lot of the same things, whether it comes to the core gameplay loops or monetization or icon design, etc. When I worked for larger companies in the game dev industry, we called a lot of these things “best practices” – game design techniques that many developers have come to realize after a lot of trial and error work better than others. Some simple examples are in-app purchase pricing points, in-game sales, gameplay session length (for games with energy or lives that come back over time) , and features like achievements and leaderboards.

I think sometimes as an indie developer there is a tendency to want to innovate on every part of the game in order to stand out. But as a newcomer to the field you have an opportunity to learn from the experience of a lot of other developers, and save yourself a lot of time and headaches.

So really take a pause and analyze what successful games are doing and try to emulate them while you add your own innovation on top of that. Your game will still stand out on its own appeal, and you wont make the same mistakes thousands of developers have already made before you.

Most of these things are usually learnt through experience and a lot of trial and error, and I did my fair share of that too. But if there’s any shortcut to learning from your own mistakes it’s to learn from other peoples’ mistakes.

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We’d like to thank Patrick and Rolltower for taking the time to share their experiences with us.  Be sure to follow Rolltower on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rolltower and comment below with your questions!

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