FGL 3rd Quarter Developer Earnings Update

FGL 3rd Quarter Developer Earnings

Q3 of 2014 was a good quarter for developers and publishers working with FGL.   A few notable things that happened: FGL surpassed $20,000,000 paid out to developers, we helped multiple native apps reach various “top 10″ positions on Google Play (and earn significant revenue gains),   and we continued to help HTML5 developers distribute and monetize their games (through our distribution platform as well as our new HTML5 Game Shop).

I’ll break down the earnings graph below.

Native Mobile: As you can see, revenue from native mobile games lead the way in growth in the 3rd quarter.  Most of our success on native mobile is explained in our blog post, linked above (and here for convenience). What is a little misleading is the jump, and then fall, in revenue from the 1st quarter.  Some of the earnings in the 1st quarter came from a few large one-off licensing deals we secured for developers.  A chart below shows the revenue growth of our Mobile Platform (in gross revenue earned) with the one-off deals taken out.

FGL Mobile Platform q3

This graph makes it easier to see the growth of the Mobile Platform in terms of recurring revenue.  This includes money from ads, in-app purchases, and premium app purchases.  It does not include licenses or “bulk deals” that we bring to developers from time-to-time.  This means that native mobile games that are going through us are doing better than ever in mobile marketplaces.  Our distribution, cross promotion, and ad systems are helping make games make more money.  The fact that we also help bring licensing deals to games is the icing on the cake.  At least for native mobile games.

HTML5: Where licensing is the icing on the cake for native mobile, it’s the actual cake for HTML5.  Licensing through our traditional bidding area, Game Shop, and new HTML5 Game Shop tops the earnings for developers pushing their HTML5 games through us.   However, at the end of the 3rd quarter – and now early into the 4th quarter – we’re seeing a lot of growth in ad revenue and distribution of our HTML5 games.  We’ve had several featured promotions through Amazon, and have partnerships with other marketplaces and distributors in the works.  This is an area that will likely jump in Q4.

Web: Though we’ve lumped all web technologies into the “Web” bucket, there are two main technologies that make up the earnings here.  One is Unity, which we’ve seen an uptick in exclusive and primary deals in our bidding area.  In fact, we’ve seen larger Unity deals over the last 3 months than we’ve seen in years at FGL.  The other technology is, of course, Flash.  Flash for web is a very volatile market right now.  However, we’re still seeing very high cpms on the web, and think the Flash market is due for at least a small bounce back.  In fact, one revenue source we have NOT added to our charts is Flash Ads.  This is something we’ll change in the future as we’re seeing significant gains for developers using our FGL Ads for in-game Flash ads.  With over $1,000,000 paid out to Flash developers already this year, one thing is for sure: the best place to make money with a Flash game is still FGL.

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.

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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.

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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.

FGL has helped game developers earn over $20,000,000

 

If you’ve visited the FGL frontpage recently (fgl.com/frontpage) you probably noticed that we surpassed a significant milestone.  FGL has now helped game developers earn over $20,000,000!

 

Everyone involved deserves a huge CONGRATULATIONS!  The FGL team, the indie game developer community, and all of the publishers who have contributed to this number have all been integral parts of a market that allows fun, innovative games to be created and shared with gamers around the world.

 

Being one of those gamers myself, I am extremely proud to have been a small part of this achievement.  There are games that would never have been made without this ecosystem.  Games that I spent hours playing.  Games that broke the mold of what was traditionally popular and lucrative.  To me, $20,000,000 is definitely impressive, but what brings me the most joy is knowing where that money went.  It’s in the games that would have otherwise never seen the light of day without it.

 

And, what’s more exciting is that the growth rate of that number is increasing.  Very soon we will be releasing FGL’s 3rd Quarter Developer Earnings stats.  These stats will show the rapid uptick in earnings developers are making through FGL. Mobile has had the biggest revenue growth, by far, for developers working with us this year, but we also have seen success with developers working on games for the mobile-web, web, and other markets.  These are truly exciting times for the indie game community.

 

And speaking of community,  a big part of hitting this milestone is due to the fact that the developer community on FGL is flourishing. FGL now has more than 33,000 registered developers, with hundreds more signing up every month.  Our newsletter is one of the most-read game developer newsletters in the world, our blog gets nearly 60,000 views a month on average, our forums and chat room are a great place to communicate with fellow developers, and we now have monthly game jams and weekly “game nights” that we stream through twitch.  If we didn’t have such a dedicated group of developers, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we have. It isn’t a stretch to say that this community is the lifeblood of FGL.

 

If you’ve ever benefited from FGL,  I want to point out that every person on this page: https://www.fgl.com/meet_the_team.php has had a huge part in making all of this happen. FGL is extremely lucky to have such a great group of people working for it.  Not only are these men and women some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with, but they are also some of the most fun people I’ve ever been around (as anyone who’s been around us at GDC can attest to).

 

Also, if you’ve ever benefited from FGL, we’d like to thank YOU.  As I mentioned, the community is our lifeblood. FGL in essence is a facilitator, a supporter, an advocate, a marketplace.  We are everything to help monetize and distribute a game. But that is nothing without the actual game.  To be honest, back in 2007, when FGL started, we would have failed if there hadn’t already been a budding market in place.  There were developers making great games, and publishers trying to bring those games to their audiences.  It was a flawed system that we (in my biased opinion) revolutionized.  But it was an existing market.  And there’s no way we could have gone from nothing to $20,000,000 without the fact that developers continued to make awesome games, and publishers kept investing in them to entertain and grow their audiences.   So, again, thank you to all of the developers and publishers who allowed these amazing games to be created and shared with the masses.

 

When FGL started, we focused exclusively on Flash games on the web.  Now, we’ve helped developers and publishers make millions of dollars with games built in a multitude of technologies on both web and mobile. We have seen a lot of traction with HTML5 games for the mobile-web,  partnering with companies such as Amazon, Google, and Yahoo.  We’ve also helped a number of native Android games gain hundreds of thousands of installs, and reach various “Top 10 ” charts on Google Play, Nook, and the Amazon App Store.  And, we helped get games onto the Fire TV at it’s launch. On top of this, we’ve developed an ad system: ADsorb, which is available on both web and mobile and has increased the revenue of apps and web sites by several multiples in many cases. All of this, within the last year. With so many new areas and ways to distribute games and make money, and the ceiling of the market being so high, we’re extremely excited to continue to work with developers and publishers as we surge past the $20,000,000 milestone.

 

Chris Hughes
Co-Founder, President

FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with Keybol

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Seven


If you’re interested in joining us for some of FGL’s Community Events, be sure to check out our forums for updates on Game Jams and Contests!  This week, we’ll be streaming LIVE on Twitch at twitch.tv/FGLGameNight.  Drop us a follow to be notified when we go live!  FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with developer Keybol, creator of the highly successful ‘Belial‘ gaming franchise.

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FGL_Brian:  Hello, Keybol! Why don’t we start by having you introduce yourself and your studio?

Keybol: I am Bari Silvestre and I have made flash games and mobile games for over 4 years now under the developer name, Keybol.  I work as a solo game developer here at my home in Pampanga, Philippines.  I have collaborated with other artists to work on bigger games and use our names both in the credits. I have not really settled on a studio name, until now.

FGL: Oh, do you have a new studio name you’re ready to announce?

Keybol:Ferryman

FGL: Nice! Any story behind how you chose that name?

Keybol: It was suggested by my high school friend who is also part of this team. We are making a fantasy game inspired by Castlevania Symphony of the Night.  The game was conceptualized first, and so I told my team that we need a collective name to call ourselves and for possible future projects. A few ideas were thrown in.  Eventually, I really liked Ferryman as it is a familiar term but not used so often. (Also Castlevania, one of my favorite games, has a Ferryman character.)

Basically, we will bring our players to new worlds with interesting stories and characters.

FGL:  I’d like to highlight your Belial franchise for a bit.  When you were coming up with the idea for those games, were you ever worried that the game’s dark sense of humor might not resonate as well as it did with the players?

Keybol: The very first Belial point and click adventure game was really made to have no restrictions. Brutal scenes and dark humor, but it actually got toned down from suggestions on FGL by reviewers and sponsors.  I think it’s because I made it in 2010 where anything goes in flash games, and such games were popular back then.

I wanted it to be a platformer game back then, a mini Metroidvania, but my programming experience wasn’t as good back then

FGL: You may have wanted to make a different style of game, but the puzzle / point-and-click genre decision turned out to be very successful.  In your subsequent games, even the action-heavy ones like Splitman, Primary Max, and Remove the Dinosaurs, you kept an element of puzzle / problem-solving.  Were you a big fan of puzzle / thinking games when you were younger?

Keybol: Yes I am, not only in video games but also in books and magazines. I find it clever to solve them and even more to make them.

FGL:  Looking at your whole library, you have a remarkable range of visual styles in your games.  You have dark (like Belial), silly (Ninja Cradle), cute (Go Under) and minimalist (Pretentious Game / How To Make A Sequel).

Keybol: Some were incredibly polished and have tons of features while some were made in a day. The popularity of those games also varied. For example, Pretentious Game was made in a day but it’s by far the most popular game I have made.

FGL: Do you have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to do with the visuals when you’re coming up with game concepts and ideas?  Do you feel like certain game genres lend themselves to certain visual styles?

Keybol: Ah yes, when I envision games, I have a good idea regarding how they should look. So it’s easy to tell the artists to go with this reference I show them.  Then the artists will put their own touch in them and the game will just move on from there.

FGL:  So, any new projects coming up you can share with us?  What’s next for Keybol and Ferryman?

Keybol: I am doing a one button reaction game with Tower Defense aesthetic, so you control the attacking minions and try not to let them hit the game’s defense. Also Belial Ars Arcana is the flash game spinoff of the bigger game and is actually Chapter 3 of the point and click adventure game of the same name.

Belial Art of the Devil is in production (Sneak Peak here: https://www.facebook.com/belialgame).  It’s already been previewed on TouchArcade and GamesInAsia and one Brazilian site. I have also showcased it here in a local Mozilla event and soon in GDC China.  I’ll be in GDC China as Pretentious Game is one of the honorable mentions in the IGF Main Competition.

FGL: Congratulations! And thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us today.  Any ‘thank you’s or shout outs you’d like to give anyone before we wrap things up?

Keybol: Thank you to FGL and to my team in Ferryman!

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I’d like to thank Keybol for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Keybol, you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/keybol 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 brian@fgl.com.

FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with Eric Bernier

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Six

If you’re interested in joining us for some of FGL’s Community Events, be sure to check out our forums for updates on Game Jams and Contests! This week, FGL is hosting a Game Jam! FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with developer Eric Bernier, creator of hit games like ‘Comic Book Cody‘ and ‘Herm the Germ‘.

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FGL_Brian: Thanks for meeting with us today, Eric!  Tell us a little about yourself.

Eric Bernier: My name is Eric Bernier. I’ve been making games in my spare time for about 3.5 years now, all released under my own name. As far as technologies used go, I’ve focused on Flash, using FlashPunk, but I am currently transitioning over to Haxe and HaxeFlixel.

FGL: For a lot of your projects, you seem to have been quite successful working in collaborations.  Are there specific skills you look for in a collaboration partner?  Do you have any advice for newer game developers who want to collaborate on projects?

EB: I have indeed collaborated with a handful of very talented people. I found PixelChunk, and Izzy, the two artists that I’ve worked with the most right on the FGL forums. More often than not, those that I work with have posted a long forum post, either on FGL, or other game dev related sites, featuring their work. If their style is something I like then I take the time to reach out to them, asking if they’d like to work together. Typically, I let them choose the payment method, whether it be a flat fee, hourly, or revenue split. Treat those you work with with respect, and they will hopefully treat you in a similar manner.

However, It wasn’t always easy finding talented people to work with. When I first joined FGL I had nothing to show for myself. I was willing to work with anyone who pretty much owned Photoshop and could put some pixels on the screen. Smile Due to my lack of finished products, I often hired my artists via commission work, and this worked out well. So as far as advice goes, when first starting out, be honest with yourself. Many often go on the collab forum with no experience looking for a 50/50 rev split. Why should an artist trust his or her time with you when you have no history of past successes? Save some money if possible, and commission an artist. Respect others’ time, put in your work, build up a portfolio, then reach out to others and the collaborations should come in.

FGL: I was looking over your game portfolio at http://ericbernier.com/ and noticed you have a good mix of large-scale games and smaller finished projects.  What are some of the things you look for when deciding whether to expand a game idea into something more complex, or when to just keep it simple?

EB: When time allows I try to enter a game jam, or bang out a small project if I’m feeling up to the task. I tend to work alone on these smaller projects, which is probably why they stay so small.

However, I typically enjoy larger scale projects more, as they present greater challenges, and allow for a more polished product. Also, I’m not nearly talented enough to pull these projects off alone, so I also get to work with some awesome people at the same time. Due to this, most of my projects, for the time I allocate to making games, tend to be on the larger side. Bouncing ideas off of my fellow artists and musicians is what helps my games go. Seeing someone else get excited about your ideas, and vice versa, is what helps fuel us to the finish line.

FGL: You mentioned that you’re exploring Haxe for game-making.  Do you have any advice for current Flash developers looking to add new game formats / languages to their repertoire?

EB: First, if you are looking to move on from Flash check out a few of the frameworks out there. There is Haxe, and its popular ports of FlashPunk and Flixel, HaxePunk and HaxeFlixel respectively. Using Haxe and one of these ports will allow you to work with the already familiar Flash API, while compiling to multiple platforms. If JavaScript and HTML5 is more of your thing there is Phaser, which seems to have a big community behind it. Community is pretty important to me, and it is one of the reasons I am transitioning to HaxeFlixel. I felt the time was right to move on from AS3, and the HaxeFlixel community is constantly adding updates, answering questions on their forums, and active on Twitter.

I could list a few more frameworks, and libraries, but those three should be enough to whet someone’s appetite for new technology. If you find yourself gravitating to one over the others then I suggest that you join their forums, participate in their respective community, and try to create some very simple, small games at first.

FGL: I noticed you’re also very active on Twitter.  Do you view Twitter as a useful tool for connecting with other developers?  Do you have any tips for promoting your projects using Twitter?

EB: Twitter has been useful in meeting other developers, and is another great tool for finding people to collaborate with. Join Twitter, follow some of your favorite devs, and try to join in on conversations when you can. Don’t just go on Twitter and market your game. People will ignore you, and it is not a very personal way of making meaningful connections online. I often tweet to the #gamedev hashtag, and it has led to some kind praise of my projects, and I’ve also met a few devs via that hashtag. Just don’t spam it though.

FGL: Before we wrap things up, any new projects coming up we get to look forward to?

EB: Izzy and I are working together for another game. I guess you could call it a “rogue-lite”, set in a fairy tale world, in which you play as a princess looking to escape the doldrums of everyday princesshood. The game is titled “A Wicked Curse”, and we’re hoping to target the PC market with it.

FGL: Sounds fun!  Thanks for taking some time today to answer our questions, Eric.  Any shout-outs before we go?

EB: Sure. Thanks to Izzy and Ionut for being two very talented artists to work with. It seems anytime I tell them what I’m thinking that they read my mind and draw something exactly how I pictured it. Thanks to Daniel Davis for being a great musician and sound guy to work with. Lastly, thanks to my wife, as she gets to have every idea I have bounced off of her whether she wants to hear it or not.

Also, thanks to all of the awesome people who have worked on the many frameworks and tools that I’ve used, including FlashPunk, HaxeFlixel, and Ogmo Editor.

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I’d like to thank Eric Bernier for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Eric, you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ericmbernier 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 brian@fgl.com.

 

FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with PJBaron

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Five

If you’re interested in joining us for some of FGL’s Community Events, be sure to check out our forums for updates on Game Jams and Contests! This week, FGL Game Night returns this Friday night so stop on by and play some games with the FGL Admins! FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with developer PJBaron, creator of the smash hit racing games ‘Cruisin‘ and ‘V8 Muscle Cars‘ among other titles.

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FGL_Brian: Hello, Pete! Welcome to the Spotlight.  Why don’t you introduce yourself and your studio for us?

Pete Baron: I’m Pete Baron, I’ve been a video games designer and programmer for nearly 30 years, and I operate the web-site and studio www.insanehero.com. For the last… 5? years I’ve been concentrating on Flash games, and am just now starting to expand out into Mobile and HTML5.

FGL: You’ve put out an impressive volume of games.  Do you tend to focus on developing one game at a time, finishing it and moving onto the next one, or do you like to work on different projects concurrently?

PJB: It depends on the project.  A larger project like Aztec God Games takes up to three months full-time, so I work on those exclusively.  A tiny project like Zombaby Bouncer might only take one or two weeks, so I tend to keep a couple of those on the boil at all times.  I like to have a variety of options when I sit down to start each day… if I’m feeling “clever” I’ll take on a tough algorithmic task… but if I’m feeling a bit dopey, I’ll do presentation type easy jobs.  Having a couple of games running out of sync with each other helps give me those options.

FGL: One of the fascinating trends I noticed across some of your more action-oriented games was a unique movement/combat simplification.

PJB: You’re thinking Working Stiffs/Pocket Platoon there?

FGL: Pocket Platoon, Working Stiffs, and Dead Vault all feature this mechanic to some extent

PJB: I’d been playing around trying to bring the old-school game mechanics into a more casual games environment.  Then I saw a demo that Ben the artist had made.  He had these people following the cursor but running away from Zombies… and I thought that works really well! I really liked the old joystick based games, and they converted quite nicely to keyboard controls… but touch screens are horrible for that type of control.  So I was really trying out a series of different approaches to getting that same type of feeling through a touch screen interface.  Ben’s demo showed me one way to move towards that goal.

FGL: Your games have excelled at simplifying the technical demands on the user, using only lightweight, non-intrusive in-level tutorials as needed.  Is this a conscious decision you made during development, or did you gradually arrive at these user-friendly mechanics?

PJB: It was definitely a conscious decision in the first place.  The actual solutions were the result of trying different things one after another and seeing what worked and what didn’t work.  The user interface is one of the most important features of a game.  It’s how the user manipulates the game world and sees the results of their actions.  I believe it’s impossible to understate how critical it is to get that exactly right.  I also think it’s astonishingly hard to come up with a great solution that is ‘new’.  Generally, if there’s a popular game with a similar mechanic, you should always copy it.  Innovation for it’s own sake will very often fail.  But then, I still don’t see many popular touch-screen games utilising the kind of control I’m trying to perfect here… so I’m kind of stuck being forced to try these risky changes!

FGL: We can see some of the echoes of this commitment to the user experience in your highly popular racing games.  The gameplay mechanics are fairly traditional, and the levels are very well-tuned, but you focused on other elements of the games that made them a lot of fun.  What would you say is the ‘magic’ in those games?

PJB: I think a lot of players like to feel that they’re in control but on the edge of chaos.  When I first wrote my Outrun style game engine I concentrated very heavily on that factor.  I still go back to the original settings for V8 Muscle Cars with some of the newest racing games, because I think I nailed it just about right in that one.

There’s a feeling as though you’re an amazing driver when you swerve and dodge amongst the slow moving traffic then take a corner with the rear end sliding way out there… I think that’s gratifying to almost anyone.

FGL: Big time.  Racing games in particular can live or die based on the core mechanics and race difficulty tuning.

PJB: I’m not a great games player myself.  I tune the games so I can *just* beat them if I try really hard or upgrade everything to max.  That seems to be another sweet spot.

FGL: We had a question from the community for you: “You’ve produced a large number of games of varying size / length, but each feel professionally polished.  When you’re wrapping up development on a game, are there any small things a developer can do to give a game that ‘big budget’ feel?”

PJB: It’s mainly the same thing everyone tells you – attend to the details.  There’s nothing worse than starting a game and seeing a bad font, an ugly title screen, poor spelling, or buttons that don’t work properly.  If you have time *after* making sure that’s all correct… it’s always nice to throw in a surprise in the first couple of screens.  Defense 1942 had a verlet-physics dog tag chain that you could fiddle with.  Danger Dungeon flames would react like you were passing your finger through them.  Cruisin has this ‘oil painting’ type title screen, but when you click ‘play’ the car drives off into the distance.  Little surprises really draw the player into the experience right at the start.

FGL: Do you have any new projects you’re working on these days?  Anything coming out soon we can look forward to seeing?

PJB: Well, I’ve got three games up for sale on FGL right now (a new rally racing game, dash n dog, and hedgehog cute)… right now I’m having a go at a “parking” game (on request from a sponsor) but I want to do something a bit different so I’m combining the game mechanics with another popular genre to try a new hybrid. I’ve just written a highscore table (just for fun) which meant learning about PHP, mySql, and TCP/IP communications… that leaves the door open for some turn based multiplayer options which I’ve been wanting to explore for a long time. So at some point soon, I’d like to release a small test game that uses those factors to try to bring a more social element to it.

FGL: Looking forward to that!  Well, that’s all for my questions.  Do you have any shout outs or thank you’s you’d like to give before we wrap up?

PJB: Thanks first to FGL for providing a marketplace which has allowed me to be independent for recent years! A quick shout-out to the artists who work with me to make these games look great, especially Ben and Andrew!

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I’d like to thank PJBaron for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Pete, post your questions 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 brian@fgl.com.

 

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!

 

FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with Iskander Aminov

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Four

FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with Iskander Aminov, graphic artist and co-developer of hits like ‘Golden Duel‘, ‘Time Swap‘ and the ‘CraZ Outbreak‘ franchise.

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FGL_Brian: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Izzy!  Let’s start by introducing you to those who may not know you yet.

Iskander Aminov: Let’s see…I was born in Russia, but have lived in the US for most of my life.  I knew I wanted to do something with art about the time I was in middle school.  It narrowed down to graphic art by high school and by college I’d started making flash games as a hobby.

FGL_B: I was looking through some of your different projects on your portfolio website (http://izzyaminov.com/)

You have a wide range of projects and styles in the material there.  What do you find are the key differences when creating art for games, as opposed to another medium?

I_A: Game assets are unique for sure.  When you make a digital painting, you let your imagination run wild.  You can do whatever.  With games, you’ve got to consider a lot of things in addition to making the art look good.  Things like, how do you improve performance? Can I cut back on the amount of frames I’m using? Can I reuse some of these assets elsewhere?  So all these things should be in the back of your mind while you make game art.  Part of the reason I actually like this is because it restricts you a lot.  Too much freedom might end with you not finishing anything.

FGL_B: Almost like you can become paralyzed by the options available to you?

I_A: Yes. It makes you focus on the one path you can take as opposed to hundreds of options with too much freedom.

FGL_B: Is that something you’ve come across when pursuing collaborations?  Do other game developers come to you and have a clear idea of the kind of characters / artistic elements they think would work for their game idea?

I_A: Most of the time my collaborations start with a broad idea like a vampire who’s vegan.  We hash out some ideas, think about how long things would take to implement and start working fairly quick.  The ideas don’t come in fully fleshed out, and that’s more fun for me because there’s more creative freedom in that.

FGL_B: That’s cool.  So do you find it more natural to build a game up around an intriguing artistic concept like that as a ‘jumping off’ point?

I_A: Most of my games now have a similar art style, and that makes me happy because I enjoy when I make art the way I want.  If I’m forced to go out of my comfort zone, I tend to second guess myself, which leads to bad art.  The gameplay can be anything (as long as it’s not 3D) and I can adapt my art style to it pretty quickly.

FGL_B: You’ve done some isometric viewpoint work in games like ‘Lost Catacombs‘.  Is 3D art design that different?

I_A: I’d say it’s pretty different since you’re working with models instead of images.  Lost Catacombs was pretty hard but very satisfying to finish.  It was one of my first games I’ve done so everything back then was new.  Still a great learning experience, every project I finish I learn something new.  But I guess I also learn something new with ones I don’t finish as well.

FGL_B: Your games tend to have a lot of great visual details, especially in the main menus and interfaces.  Do you have any tips on improving visual polish for game developers looking to take the next step up in visual/graphical quality?

I_A: Put a lot of time into it.  The graphics of your games are your “foot in the door”.  If things look off, you’re going to lose players.  Make things simple and easy to use and don’t be afraid to rework the art.  Your second version tends to be a lot better than the first.  Other than that, it’s all about practice and studying what other people do.  Incorporate the good stuff into your work and try to improve it even more.

FGL_B: Taking a request from the community: “Do you have any tips for successfully collaborating on projects?  What are some common mistakes people make when working on a collaboration or seeking out a collaboration partner?”

I_A: I would strongly recommend people who are just starting out with collaborations to participate in game jams in which you’re paired with random people.  It’s a great way to find people to work with, you build a library of games, you gain a lot of new skills, and you get all that in a short time with little to lose.  The most common mistakes I see people make is being overly ambitious and trying to make this amazing game that will change the world.  It’s better to focus on making games quick, polished and fun.  You don’t need a hundred features in your game to make it successful.  If anything, it’ll make you hate the project as you spend a year trying to finish it.  You might be committing a month or two on your game, might as well have fun with it and save some ideas you have on future projects.

FGL_B: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today. Before we wrap up, do you have any projects coming up that we can look forward to?

I_A: Always have projects coming up.  Right now I’m working on a top down adventure game, a roguelike fairy tale game, and a sequel to CraZ Outbreak.  All of which we plan on doing a Kickstarter for and publishing on steam.  That’s still a long ways away, but it would be great if we can get support from the community when the time does come around.

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I’d like to thank Iskander for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for Iskander, you can follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Izzy_IRA or post your questions 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 brian@fgl.com.

Free video approvals. Phaser support. Monthly game jam. Developer interviews – Aug 2014 Developer Newsletter

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FGL Community Spotlight – A chat with FlashRush Games!

FGL Community Spotlight – Episode Three

FGL continues the Community Spotlight series this week as we sit down with the developers from ‘FlashRush Games‘, makers of ‘Madmen Racing‘ and the ‘Nutty‘ and ‘Transmorpher‘ franchises.

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FGL_Brian:  Welcome to the FGL Community Spotlight!  How about a quick introduction for yourself and your studio for people who may not know you yet.

FlashRush Games: Hello, everyone!  My name is Konstantin, I’m 30 years old. I’m cofounder of “FlashRush Games” development studio/team. FlashRush Games is a game development team from Ukraine. Our team was founded 5 years ago and engaged in RIA development. For the last 3 years we’ve been developing flash games and have released nearly 20 games. We are all very good friends who love to play and make cool games! For more details about our games, you can visit our site - http://flashrushgames.com/

FGL_Brian: So your team was founded 5 years ago; is that when you decided to become a full-time game developer, or were you already making games before then?

FlashRush Games: Members of our team were working together in a specific game industry – developing “Slots” for Casinos. So you could say we’ve been familiar with game development for more than 10 years. We started making our own games, just for fun, for PC using Delphi and C++. And in 2008 we started move to Flash/Web platform.

FGL_Brian:  Interesting.  I noticed that you’ve worked with over a dozen different publishers / sponsors over the years.  What are some of the good things you look for when choosing a sponsor to work with?

FlashRush Games: We’ve had only good impressions when working with sponsors that we find on FGL.  The first thing that draws our attention is ML of the sponsor, but the main point now is that sponsor must be friendly and have good communication.  With good communication, you can clarify all unclear moments and quickly discuss all the details.

It’s very good when the sponsor/publisher cares about your game and helps you make it better, so sociable and caring sponsors are our choice. Price is not always the deciding factor; details are very important. We’d rather choose sponsors who are pleasant to work with than the one who pays more. So it’s a very good thing that on FGL you can find many wonderful sponsors!


FGL_Brian: That’s certainly good to know.  Moving onto the actual games, you’ve used many memorable main characters in your titles.  From the plucky Transmorpher alien and intrepid Phobi Jones to the fearless Nutty squirrel and all the crazy wacky characters in Madmen Racing.  Do you find that featuring strong main characters helps contribute to a game’s success?  Is this a focus for you when making games? 

FlashRush Games: As we know, the most important thing about a game is that it brings entertainment and fun for player. Visuals are a half of this pleasure, so main characters must be – emotional, memorable, unique, sometimes crazy. Yes, this helps contribute to a game’s success, but this only a half. The other half is a gameplay experience which must be combined with the characters. We start by focusing on gameplay first, then we try bring life and emotions to the characters. We are constantly remaking characters and gameplay until we find the perfect fit. Smaller details can be added; different “Easter eggs” always help to bring more fun. But strong main characters is a half of success.

FGL_Brian:  What are some common mistakes you see first-time developers make?  Was there one mistake you made early in your career that you think other game developers can learn from?

FlashRush Games: The main mistake I see is the development of a big game (the game of your dreams) as a first game.  Many developers try to do an MMORPG first Smile And I made the same mistake when I started game developing.

Development of rapid small-scale projects will help you understand your strengths and explore the market. Try not to do projects for more than 2 months. It will be less frustration.
We always think that our game is the best game ever seen, and we can not adequately evaluate the game. This is also a big common mistake of developers.
It must be remembered that everything new is well-forgotten old. Experiment with the old mechanics and you will find something new for your games.
FGL_Brian: Do you have any advice for developers looking to turn their game into a franchise with sequels (and not just a one-time game) as you’ve done so successfully?

FlashRush Games: You must track the game spread. Listen to each comment.  Players will always show you where to move and what to do.  Players will show you your mistakes and bugs, and will also come up with new features.  Do not try to turn every game into a franchise with sequels, this is not always possible or smart.  The market or the players themselves will require upkeep, and this is a good place to start.
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FGL_Brian:  Time for the lightning round!  How did you come up with the name for your studio?

FlashRush Games: “FlashRush Games” – all of what and how we do are in these words: Flash + Rush + Games Smile
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FGL_Brian: What were your favorite games when you were younger and what kind of games do you play now?

FlashRush Games: I love to play and compete with other people.  Main genres were strategy and shooters – Dune, Warcraft, StarCraft, Quake, CS. 

Now I play StarCraft 2, and League of Legends (this one we play with the whole office).
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FGL_Brian:  Oh, cool!  FGL hosts a League of Legends Game Night every Thursday.  It’ll be fun to play some games with you. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.  Any ‘shout-outs’ before we wrap things up?

FlashRush Games: Well, there are so many friendly developers and sponsors, and also the FGL guys Smile I want to thank all the community. GL HF!
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I’d like to thank Konstantin and the guys over at FlashRush Games for answering our questions and sharing these stories with us. If you have any other questions for FlashRush, you can follow them on twitter @FlashRushGames or post your questions 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 brian@fgl.com.