网页游戏门户网站Newgrounds创始人及独立工作室The BehemothTom合伙人Fulp表示，“整个发展过程循序渐进。随着Flash游戏日渐风靡，企业开始尝试赞助游戏，将自己的商标放入游戏。”游戏呈病毒式传播，间接提高赞助者的网站流量。同时Newgrounds之类的门户网站向搭载网站的游戏提供广告收入分成（游戏邦注：游戏扩大网站用户）。但Flash市场最大的改变是Flash Game License的问世。
Fulp表示，“有时我们会求助Flash Game License人员，但也有很多开发者直接同我们联系。他们会联系我们，联系Armor Games，及其他他们看好的网站，我们会反复通过邮件沟通，直到他们接受我们的某个方案。我锁定我个人喜欢的游戏，我希望它能够激发网站其他开发者的灵感。我们很难量化结果，因为这有点像营销成本。这部分支撑社区工作，部分在网页中宣传自己。你很难找到获得足够资金回报的完美模式。但只要你的网站继续受欢迎，你大可尽情投入。”
轻松创收？Aardman Digital技术总监及网页游戏公司Photonstorm主管Rich Davey客观看待其在Flash游戏领域所获成就。他发现，在每周涌现的众多游戏中，纸牌类型颇受赞助商青睐。
Flash gaming: Show us the money
By Edge Staff
In the second part of our week-long series on Flash gaming, we find out what makes it so financially alluring to indie devs.
Web games are now far from an amateur concern. Once the scene was fuelled by dabblers, collecting under the banner of Flash to tease out the capabilities of a new technology. Now a fulsome economy has grown, allowing indie talent to blossom into professional concerns, while maintaining a good deal of creative freedom. In this second instalment of our weeklong series on Flash, we examine just how this unique arrangement came to be, detail the deals being cut, and discover what sort of sums are exchanging hands.
Read part one – Meet the developers
“It grew organically,” says Tom Fulp, founder of long-running webgame portal Newgrounds and co-owner of indie developer The Behemoth. “As Flash games got more popular, companies had the idea that they could sponsor games, and have their logo on it.” The games spread virally, driving traffic back to the sponsor’s site. Portals like Newgrounds, meanwhile, offered a share of ad revenue for the site-locked games that drew people in. But the biggest change to the Flash economy has been the arrival of Flash Game License.
Crudely described as an eBay for Flash games, FGL offers a bidding system by which its pool of 5000 or so sponsors can negotiate with some 20,000 developers. The devs upload their game in a state of near completion and sponsors tempt them with a variety of deals, of which FGL takes a ten per cent cut. Some may be sponsorship with an embedded logo or link, others may bind that game to a single site exclusively for a period of time, while others may hoover up the non-exclusive licences for lesser sums. But what sort of figures are we talking about? We ask FGL’s co-founder, Chris Hughes (you’ll find a full interview with him tomorrow).
“We see a huge range,” he says. “A good game will get anywhere from $5000 and up. A great game will get $15,000 and up. We typically see two to three games a month that are in that ‘great’ range. Occasionally we get a game come through that gets $80,000, but that’s definitely the exception. And, I should note, this is all up-front; a lot of the deals have performance bonuses or ad-share revenue. So these numbers are the bare minimum they’re getting. And then there’s the secondary market. Kongregate may offer you $20,000 for a primary licence – which means you can sell non-exclusives as well [after a set period of time has elapsed, often two weeks] so you can go to the other portals and sell it for additional money, in the $1000 to $2000 range, or get a revenue share deal with someone like Microsoft or Yahoo, which can be tens of thousands down the line, if not hundreds if the game is popular long enough.”
“Sometimes we’ll find someone on Flash Game License, but we also have a lot of developers who come directly to us,” says Fulp. “They’ll contact us and Armor Games and a few other sites they like, and we’ll email back and forth until they accept one of the offers. I look for games I like personally, that I want to be an inspiration for other developers on the site. It’s hard to quantify the results of it because it’s sort of a marketing cost. It’s one part supporting the community, and one part promoting yourself across the web. You never really get a perfect model for what you get back out of it financially. But as long as your site stays popular you spend what you can on it.”
But if you own a site yourself, as webgame developer Nitrome does, licensing to thirdparty portals is just one part of a diverse income stream. “We personally make most of our money through advertising on our own site,” says Matthew Annal, Nitrome’s managing director. “We get more traffic elsewhere, but the difference you can make in revenue on your own site is vast. When the advertisers know where and how their adverts are going to be displayed, the adverts you imbed in your own content command a much higher Cost Per Milestone – the cost per thousand impressions.”
Cash up front
But for the majority of developers, particularly those running small teams and living hand-to-mouth, FGL is an extremely attractive prospect, and not simply because it trims the red tape.
“[A big buyer like] Microsoft requires a three million dollar insurance coverage for games – it’s an expensive annual premium,” says Hughes. “Obviously a lot of independent developers can’t afford that. The cheapest three million dollar coverage you can get for cyber-liability and errors and omissions and so forth is probably ten or twenty thousand dollars a year. So we have Easy License – the buyer will sign a contract with us, and we’ll do the deal with the developers, and we have all this insurance coverage and do all the taxes.”
It works out in the buyer’s favour too, Hughes says. Mega-portals like Microsoft or Yahoo want to bulk-buy content – having one point of sale is extremely efficient for them.
“And then there’s the payment,” Hughes says. “If we work with a big company who we know is going to pay us, sometimes they’ll take 60 or 90 days. If you’re living paycheque to paycheque, that might mean you can’t feed yourself! But we know we’re going to be paid, so we pay the developer on day one and wait to get that money back from Microsoft, or whoever. Most of these developers are small teams – their main goal is to make games. And really that’s been our goal: to help devs focus on what they love to do, so they don’t have to wear their business hat, marketing hat or their legal hat.”
Easy money, then? Rich Davey, technical director at Aardman Digital and the man behind webgaming outfit Photonstorm, is a little more measured in his adulation of the Flash game market. With so many games per week, he observes, the cards are very much in the sponsors hands.
“Sponsors have a phenomenal choice,” he says. “If you’re subscribed to FGL’s new games bulletin you’ll be hit with 30 or 40 new games on a Monday and 20 new games a day throughout the week. Competition among the sponsors isn’t as high. The specifications on the sponsor side of it has gone up, because there are so many good games out there, but the sponsorship money hasn’t risen to match that. The majority of developers mix in the indie side of it with contract work and use that to supplement their income. But the money is there if your games are good and you target it correctly.”
Targeting is a tricky issue, however. When we ask what sorts of games command the big money, FGL’s Hughes is clear that no one genre or aesthetic dominates the scene.
“Most of our active sponsors are part of the youngish male action audience,” he admits. “They like zombie games and RPGs and shooters. But that’s not indicative of the market; that’s indicative of the people who are really active on our site. When a developer releases a really kick-ass Mahjong game, that thing sells for a crazy amount of money. It’s just you’ve got two sponsors interested in it instead of ten. The games that are getting a tonne of money are sequels. It’s a guaranteed home run for the sponsor.”
Even so, Hughes admits that it’s extremely unlikely to see a million dollar sponsorship deal being made. There’s a ceiling to the market which limits devs from making the kind of colossal sums fabled on iPhone. Just why the Flash gaming scene remains attractive despite this is the subject of Thursday’s instalment, in which we look at Flash’s threats and competitors and discover why it still comes out on top.（Source：next-gen）