Flash Game License联合创始人Chris Hughes承认道：“通过赞助网页游戏赚取百万美元，这几乎是不可实现的。我讨厌这么说。或许会有出现极端例外的情况，但是我还是想说这很难实现。事实已经多次证明，这在iPhone市场上是可能实现的。”(请点击此处阅读本系列第一篇文章)
Dull Dude Games的Iain Lobb说道：“失败的iPhone游戏非常多，有些你甚至从未听说过。但是Flash游戏更容易从失败中赚得金钱，而且制作也更为迅速。我制作过一款称为《Owl Spin》的小网页游戏。它并没有让我获得很大的成就，但是我仍然能够将其出售给赞助商来获得盈利。而且我意识到自己可以有两周的时间来制作游戏，因而我应当更加认真地对待这款游戏。”
Hughes说道：“这是个很不错的平台，可以测试出你的游戏能否在iPhone上获得成功。如果你的Flash版本游戏获得上亿玩家，这种情况我们已经见过多次，那么你就需要将其移植到其他平台和市场上。Berzerk Studio制作了一款名为《Homerun In Berzerk Land》的游戏，公司随后将游戏名改为《Berzerk Ball》。他们以Flash的形式发布游戏，游戏过去和现在都取得了令人惊叹的成功。因而他们将游戏移植到iOS上，同样也取得了成功。我肯定他们在iPhone上赚到的钱比Flash多，但是如果他们没有用网页版本的游戏进行测试，或许无法确定这是否是款流行游戏。他们本来可能会花1年的时间来制作某款iPhone游戏，然后眼睁睁地看着它就此失败。但你可以在1个月的时间内将突然闪现的灵感制作成Flash游戏，然后将其以2万美元的价格出售，看看游戏的流行程度，然后将其移植到其他平台上。如果游戏失败了，你仍然可以赚得2万美元。”
Aardman Digital技术总监Rich Davey说道：“你可以使用HTML5做出的确实令人惊叹的东西。但是这种产品只能在用户不多的浏览器中运行。使用较老版本IE的用户什么都看不到。Flash的绝妙之处就在于，所有的内容都可以打包到.swf文件中，你可以将它发送给任何人，任何人都可以使用文件，无需担心他们使用的是何种浏览器。”
Lobb也加入到这场讨论中，他说道：“每个浏览器都必须独自执行HTML5，而且所提供的每种支持都有着细微的差别，因而所有功能的加载需要花费较长的时间。但是即便是那些使用IE 6的用户都会使用最新版本的Flash。HTML5也还不支持音效。对音频标签的支持也很差，当谷歌制作HTML《吃豆人》作为Google Doodle时，他们使用单独的Flash影片来播放所有的音效。”
Flash gaming: Trouble ahead?
Listen to some and it would seem Flash dies every few years. The development platform was said to be on its last legs when Unity swaggered onto the scene, and not long for this world when Apple petulantly cast the technology from its many i-devices. Its latest killer? HTML5, so it has been reported. Terminator-like, Flash stalks on.
As we discovered on Tuesday, the figures are pretty healthy for a Flash webgame success. Nonetheless, the upper limits are modest in comparison to the iPhone market, in which the occasional canny developer can become a millionaire overnight. You’d think Apple’s market would easily eclipse the other.
“It’s going to be impossible to make a million on a [webgame] sponsorship,” admits Chris Hughes, co-founder of Flash Game License. “I hate to say that. Maybe there would be a weird, crazy circumstance – but I’m going to say it’s impossible. It’s been proven, multiple times, to be possible on the iPhone market.”
Matthew Annal, managing director of prolific webgame dev Nitrome, breaks it down further: “When you’re talking about the browser, you are talking about getting a thousand people to play your game to make a dollar. But if you got one person to buy your app on iPhone, you’ve made 69p straight away. So the potential if you have a big hit on the iPhone is much greater than on the browser.”
And yet, while there’s a clear interest among Flash developers in becoming disgustingly rich by way of the App Store, the iPhone hasn’t heralded a massive webgame diaspora. The rewards may be higher on smartphone, but the risks are too – with many a game disappearing without a trace.
“There are so many iPhone games that flop and you never hear about,” says Iain Lobb of Dull Dude Games. “But with Flash games it’s easier to make money on a flop, and it’s quicker to produce. I made a small webgame called Owl Spin. It wasn’t my greatest achievement, but I still made money by selling it to a sponsor. And I realised that if that’s what I can do in two weeks, I should take it more seriously.”
The choice isn’t either/or, of course, and many developers use Flash as a testbed for mechanics before porting them to the iPhone.
“It’s a great proving ground for whether your game is successful on iPhone,” says Hughes. “If your game gets 100 million views in Flash – and we’ve seen this several times – you need to port it. You need to put it somewhere else. It needs to be in a different market. Berzerk Studio made one particular game called Homerun In Berzerk Land, and later changed the name to Berzerk Ball. They released it in Flash. It did awesome, and still does awesome. So they ported it to iOS and it did great there too. I’m pretty sure they made more [money] on iPhone than in Flash, but they would never have known they had a popular game if they hadn’t put the browser game together in a month. They could have spent a year making an iPhone game and watch it flop. You can make a pretty fleshed out prototype in Flash in a month, sell it for $20,000, see the popularity of it, and then port it over. And if you see it fail, you’ve still made $20,000.”
Flash might not be threatened directly by iOS development, but it has competitors within the browser gaming field itself. Unity has pipped Flash to the mark with in-browser 3D, and HTML5 is being pushed by the weighty triumvirate of Google, Microsoft and Apple. Yet, if either of these is to become a web standard, there is some way to go. Neither has Flash’s near-ubiquity, and while they may still be attractive to developers working on contract, the lack of popular uptake for these technologies has so far made them a difficult sell to sponsors.
“The whole reason of a sponsorship is marketing, right?” says Hughes. “You’re putting a banner ad in a movable bit of content. With Unity, a game can go to three sites right now. The game might be awesome, but so what? It doesn’t have the viral spread of a Flash game. And the last statistic I saw, when a person hits a Unity game, there’s a 50 per cent drop off from the ‘install Unity’ screen. So you’re losing half your customers before they’ve seen the game. Maybe that’s improved some now, but with Flash you hit 98 per cent of your users straight away. Say, you want to make an HTML5 game. What are you going to do with that? Where are you going to make money? And the technology is so behind right now. I used to be a web developer and HTML5 is a pain in the ass. Or even just HTML! Does it work in Firefox? Does it work in Explorer? These are just websites. When you have a complex game with physics in it, you’re going to have to make it work in so many browsers, it’s going to break in so many different ways. And how are you going to protect your code? You can just view the source!”
“The stuff you can do with [HTML5 element] Canvas is quite incredible,” says Aardman Digital’s technical director Rich Davey. “But it’ll only work in cutting edge browsers. An old version of IE won’t see anything. The nice thing about Flash is that it all packs into one single .swf file and you can send it to someone and it just works. There’s no worry about what browser they’re running.”
Lobb joins the chorus of dissent: “Each browser has to implement HTML5 separately, and each support it slightly differently, so it takes a long time for all the features to come in. But even people who have Internet Explorer 6 still have the latest version of Flash. HTML5 doesn’t support sound yet! The support of the audio tag is really bad; when Google did HTML Pac-Man as their Google Doodle, they had a separate Flash movie playing all the sound effects.”
These problems are not insoluble, however. Sites like Facebook and Google Plus have their own economies and don’t rely on sponsorship or viral dissemination so much as direct monetisation of the game through microtransactions. Technologies like Unity and HTML5 would have little problem there, suggests Davey. FGL and Newgrounds are both eager to support these technologies the moment the market for them becomes apparent, and with Unity revealing its technology now exports to Flash’s .swf filetype, much of the struggle for marketshare will soon be behind it.
“If anyone’s going to do it, Unity will,” says Hughes. “They have awesome people working for them and they’re doing lots of things right, but it’s still tough.” He even sees a quick fix for HTML5′s woes. “There are all kinds of problems [but] a developer isn’t going to care about any of that crap if someone gives them $100,000. The second that Google, Microsoft, or Apple, or any of those guys pushing HTML5, say, ‘Fine. Here’s a million dollars to developers to make HTML5 games,’ we’ve got a market. It’s funny – we talk to Microsoft quite frequently about things, and they’re always trying to get us to push HTML5 and convince developers. But the second we ask for some money to give to developers they go, ‘Ah no, we don’t want to do that.’ They’re shooting themselves in the foot – it would be so easy! They could have hundreds if not thousands of HTML5 games in a matter of months if they just dumped some money into it. And not even a lot of money.”
“Whatever people say, HTML5 is not ready now,” says Lobb. “It will be in the future – but where will Flash be then?” It’s a good question, and one we investigate in our final part of the series, in which we look at what lies in Flash’s future – will the prophesies of its doom finally come true, or will Adobe’s renewed attentiveness to the gaming community herald in a new era of prosperity? (Source: next-gen)