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My Notes from Flash Game Summit 2009

I'm sharing my notes from FGS 2009 in San Francisco. They are raw and scattered, but a lot of data was flying around and I did my best to record as much as possible. DISCLAIMER: some facts might be miswriten/typed, but i think it's pretty much right.

Caleb Garner

June 9, 2009

16 Min Read

 In the spirit of the recent openness found in this article http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4046/what_are_the_rewards_of_.php?page=1 and also Aaron Murray's blog as well i figured this might help someone also.  This is very raw and I appologize if stuff seems choppy / disconnected...  but i tried not to read into my notes too much to avoid making incorrect assumptions. 

As I've been going through my process of exploring and securing sponsorship for our latest game, this data definitely helped us and will continue to help our decisions moving forward.  maybe you can find some value here as well: 

Flash Game Summit Notes 


Marketing Information..

Mochiads There were roughly 1 billion plays per month average last year.  Around 1 million dollars paid out last year… 

KongregateTheir multiplayer segment is about 20% of all games played.  While multiplayer has a lot of potential, the general consensus is that most people would rather just play a game by themselves as casual gaming goes.Paul from Kongregate who was on the multiplayer panel reported: 3% of MP gamers tend to pay, only have a few games out so far…  2% single player games tend to pay 

22% of Puzzel Pirates pay (how much?) of active (regular) players.  $20 average per active player $4.95 minimum for getting started  60% / 40%   credit / PayPal according to someone in that panel…           

9% of Dino Wars active (regular) players pay something to play… 

Kongregate offers $5, $10, $20 per… $5 is the most common chunk.  $3 per transaction is the most common unit of purchase amount 

Parents are getting better at buying for children online… 

Tip – target game development for male/female gamers at age 19 for best overall demographic spread.   

4 to 1 CPM (clicks per million?) to Banner…  not sure I follow this, but it’s some kind of fact… 

Sweet Spot for game size is around 3mb…  12-15mb is risky that load time will take too long for player and loose plays.    


Multiplayer Panel           

 Coop seemed like a much stronger appeal to casual gaming vs. direct win/loose scenarios.  Players generally respond better to that.  Also it’s important to keep the player in the game, unlike a game like counterstrike, it’s typically more likely that players will not sit around watching others play.           

Asynchronous games do better in multiplayer than synchronous.  Asynchronous means (in his terms) games that are turn based and where a stage is persistent…  as in I make changes… come back later and those changes are still there except if someone else makes more changes…  think sandbox…           

 Achievements disserve some thought.  While it’s not a formula to make a bad game good, it can add some stickiness to a game especially if in a situation where others can see their achievements.  Isolating the achievements to just the player is kinda stale.  This is big in European multiplayer games, (ask Daniel for a good example)           

Keep games load times down to a minimum… more time you load, the more likely you’ll lose players who can’t wait around.  3mb seems to be the sweet spot for games.             

Think of strong single player game with multiplayer capabilities…  WoW is thought to be a massive single player game.  Given the strong desire for casual gamers to play single player games, keeping that kind of focus and simplicity is well advised.           

People want to play games they already know, so be careful when introducing new game mechanics, lest you frustrate or intimidate folks from playing.           

Competitive multiplayer games tend to be mature audiences, where younger gamers don’t tend to like competitive games.            

Do not forget that customer service should be considered in MMO           

  Grievers… Hackers…. Consider subverting them… get them on the phone… hire them!  Do whatever it takes to counter them.  Just balance the cost of keeping them off your back and the cost it takes you to fight them           

Any addicting game has some hard core element, you just want to deliver it in a friendly / inviting way that builds in complexity to help ease a new player into it           

 Startup lesions block – eric (google this).  One example was to make 5 landing pages and test an idea and see who clicks a button that doesn’t even work.  Basically farming data ideas like this.  

Getting Eyes           

Viral, Viral, Viral, push as much on own site or whatever site the game wants to bring the most traffic too according to John Cooney – armor games is a dev also, not just a portal / MochiAd kind of thing.           

Richard Fields is with MindJolt.  You should really reach out to him to find out more about how they work.             

Consider bonus content at a key page… meaning have a free version out there for the world to use and play, but have the “full” version of the game with bonus content at a primary location.  – from Chris from FGL           

Emailing friends in-game to drive more plays / impressions / accomplishments will be big when executed well.  Facebook and other social network systems will be a great resource for this.           

Web Analytics can get info about portals.   


Adobe Rep

Pixel bender – shader languagecustom filters / pixel filterflash game “closure” used pixel bender effects             http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/480006                           

RTMFP – peer to peer capability, scalable multiplayer games                       

Stratus Lab Developer key is needed for testing (cost?)                       

www.wiiflash.org is a good site apparently for Wii flash gaming            

 http://merapiproject.net = uses adobe air with java for joyystick / low level hardware   


Social Games

200 million people on facebook, Kongregate has 5 million

Mafia Wars over 1,000,000 a day

Some games making $10k – $30k a day on facebook

Simply embedding a flash game in facebook = fail

Real-time multiplayer games = fail (turn based is far more successful) no one is on at the same time in facebook typically, unless you have strong stranger-play which allows PUG type experiences.  Card games and other casual games like this can work well in that model.

Stranger play is definitely hot with the right kind of game

Pet Society 2.8 million daily active users

Using profile picture in multiplayer games is hot.  It can make a game competing with many other copy cats games stand out.

MindJolt has 300,000 active users daily on facebook

Consider cooperation and team play scoring where groups points get pooled has been very successful           

5min sessions with asynchronous design is better than 4 hours on facebook (don’t try to be a WoW on facebook)           

Ask a community what they value in their community and they will tell you.  It’s not just about making a game, but creating a setting for gaming and socializing in a fun / easy to do way.  Kongregate’s chat screen is a great idea to keep players tuned in to the thoughts and questions of others in the community.  Adds stickiness            

Coop games / Reciprocity loop (gifting, grooming, etc)           

Zynga income is in three parts 33/33/33 ad revenue, Microtransactions and form filling out

Server side experience is critical, PHP is typically what’s used.        

http://pbking.com/blog/     flash / API / PHP / documentation for facebook 



MindJolt is AS3 friendly, when looking for portal deals, be sure to find out if they support AS3 yet or not.  I imagine by now it’s more common.  Is addicting games on board now?             

 In working a deal, see if the portal is willing to pay for integrating their API?  This would be something that is worked into the deal up front.  Especially when smaller companies have complicated or very specific requirements that complicate the process…            

 Tip - Watch out about Flash Game Contests…  even if you lose, you should still get something for the submission and insure you’re not giving up rights to game or money made off of it.  Apparently some contests out there have done this…           

 Something funny “Hello buddy guy”           

MochiAds is the banner / impression stuff and MochiBot is for getting analytics, but not demographics.             

MochiAds can be turned off to not work in AG and other sites that might not like MochiAds happening.            

Understand where the user is coming from…           

What is the message of the game and why would advertisers want to be a part of that game?  This is a very important question to be asking before pitching games to Nashville companies     

Think long term, you can’t live from hit to hit, it’s simply not sustainable – last guy from panel (the guy who quoted the advergaming $7,500 price range)           

High score tracking games generate 30% more revenue than games that don’t so competition through high scores works and works well.           

 Advertising in 2009 is still valued and is looking good overall           

Flash game industry is optimistic and going strong in this economy           

 Persistent characters have meaning / value.  Mob wars is tops right now so while it might not be a great game, it’s achieving great revenue.

Smaller is better file-wise…   conversely…  bigger screen is better so balancing the two is important to strive for a comfortable flash gaming experience for the user.  800x600 and up these days is great.

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