Big Fish - "A new game every day!" - Your opinions please...

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by Andy, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. Andy

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    Subj.

    Is it just me or...

    Looking on the situation on my lovely portal I can state that it becomes absolutely unuseful for us. That's sad to say but we expect significant drop in income for all upcoming games there - except some awesome exclusions. I see how amount of good titles just appears on a moment and drops down to the bottom of the list if not dissapears at all.

    To say this directly - I suppose they use almost all upcoming games to sell Big Kahuna Reef (nothing bad about your game James!) and another laud titles. They exclude the way for us to use them as additional income and I don't see any idea to give them away our new titles for this use.

    It would be nice to hear your opinion on issue guys and gals.

    REM: Yeah, I hear that "go and make an awesome one" - and everybody would agree with this would it so easy to do. But what else with exception of this obvious statement?

    Thanks,
     
  2. Chaster

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    It is a bummer, but what can you do? When Spellunker dropped off their "new" list sales through Big Fish plummetted (sp?). We're talking an order of magnitude drop (!)... I was/am quite bummed. Conversion rate stayed relatively respectable (0.9%) but there were just too few downloads... :(

    Well, the only thing I can do is try to make the most awesome game I can... <shrug>

    Chaster
     
  3. Andy

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    To comment myself before Dan will push me out: I'm not concerend at all about Big Fish behaviour - that's their right to do what ever they like. I'm only about the idea what should we do as developers. This obviously the issue if you are expecting to have the game published by big portal or you go by your own - to develop puzzles or pinballs? (as example for our case).

    REM: Just for sure - Chaster got my request by absolutely correct way. Thanks for opinion Chaster.
     
  4. Hamumu

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    I think it's a pretty simple business decision. Why go with Bigfish knowing they're going to release a game every single day? There's NO chance they'll put any effort behind your game, so why do they deserve 65%? Forget them. Go with Real, Reflexive, or whoever (or yourself! Please! I'm a big fan of serious indiedom). It's not even gonna be worth the time it takes to configure your game to their system.

    If you make a game like Big Kahuna Reef though - super production values, super casual bejeweledness - it might be worth your effort, since you know that it will do well with their audience, and thus will actually have some money and time put into its success (and of course it can tread on the rotting corpses of a different game each day, as Andy pointed out with BKR - not BKR's fault by any means). If you're not the exact thing they're looking to focus in on, you're just fodder to fuel the gaping maw of their tricolored empire.

    Forget them even if you do make a super puzzle game - pick partners wisely based on what they can do for you, don't grab at every straw in reach. If Bigfish comes to YOU asking for your game, you might be on the BKR side of the equation. They wouldn't ask if they didn't think it would succeed for them. Then and only then does it seem like a wise choice to me.

    That's my theory, but it's not my area of expertise, let's see what others have to say...
     
  5. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think that move is good for good games and bad for not so good games. Betty's Beer Bar isn't Jewel Quest but isn't a failure either - 15th straight month selling there, now back in the top 10 downloaded games. But I digress. Fresh games every day pretty much guarantees repeat visitors. Few of these visitors will buy the not so good games, but they will be increased traffic for the good games.

    So, the situation for the good games. The bad : a lot more competition (some of these 365 games a year will be bad, some will be good, some will be excellent and drop the game a few places in the top lists). The good : more exposure, more customers.

    Now for not so good games. The bad : very short life expectancy (our FaceIt survived 3 weeks there), being "filler" content to draw repeat visitors. The good... hmmm... I don't think there's much of a good side here :(

    In the end, I think the effect of this is widening the breach in sales between good games and not so good games. So, sorry Andy, but I think my conclusion is the same as yours : try to make your games as awesome as possible!
     
  6. cliffski

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    hammu speaks the truth! I KNOW Starship tycoon will be on the front page of Positech.co.uk (until democracy comes along).
    I concentrate on building MY traffic, not a portals :D
     
  7. Andy

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    Hell! That's exactly becomes the case with last their marketing innovations. (add that their 20% discount for toolbar)
     
  8. Andy

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    This is not under the question Gabriel. I'm just loosing with my explanation. :)

    The question is "awesome for whom?" - for portal audience or for our own? (Got the differense?)
    I suppose that even good games (common Gabriel! this is to easy to bash the rest as the bad ones...) get less chances to meet any success there. That's the issue. If earlier we could make a bet from time to time and return at least part of our money on development - looks like now we've lost even this chance.
     
  9. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Well, I guess if you want your game to be successful at the portals, you should "optimize" it for the audience of the portal. I love the fact that I can say absolutely obvious facts as this one and sound profound :D
    Note that I was very careful to say "not so good games", not "bad games"... my intention isn't to bash anyones games.
     
  10. Andy

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    Correct Gabriel - my fault!
    But you got an idea - current fresh could be accepted as "not so good" and could do much better before these innovations.

    Correct again! :)

    Now looks like I'm ready to step up the correct, short and detailed question (pardon guys! that required the time ;) )

    According with new marketing steps of BigFish are you still planning to develop and submit new games for them? And would you recommend that for your fellow developers around (like we are at PoorWildSnake :) )?
     
  11. ggambett

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    We finally got to the question :D

    I'm not sure about what will we do when we finish our current game (in development for 7 months already!). We'll probably try to find an exclusive publisher. But if we don't do that, and do the same we did for Betty's Beer Bar (try to get it everywhere we can), then yes, Big Fish will be one of the first places we'll submit it.

    Once you made a game, I don't see why not submitting to them. Except if you belong to the portal hater crowd, it's just another source of revenue. But note that I said once you made a game and you said develop and submit new games for them. There's a huge difference between "once you made a game, submit it" and "develop a game with BFG in mind" (or maybe I'm just reading too much and it's your russian accent ;))
     
  12. Anthony Flack

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    I've never read Andy's posts with a Russian accent, but now that you mention it, I like the effect.
     
  13. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think Bigfish has been actively looking for ways to increase their market share. To do that they have to increase visitors. So you need a hook. A new game every day is a brilliant hook in theory. It's great for repeat visitors. Scheduled regular content.

    However, how does it work in practice? I guess it still remains to be seen, but so far it's looking kind of so so. One major concern I'd say is the quality of releases dropping. And looking at the games released recently on the site I'd say that it has dropped a little overall. It only makes sense that if you release far more titles you will have less top games to pick from and you'll have to lower standards a little to keep the volume up. That could have a long term negative impact on regular visitors so maybe it ends up being a self defeating marketing hook.

    And it's fairly clear looking at what games get promoted and which sell that the way games are promoted on the site might affect the success of particular titles. I've seen titles like Platypus or Bricks of Egypt, that were #1 sellers on Realarcade only have mediocre results on Bigfish. Why is that? Is it that bigfish's audience just likes different games, or is it a reflection of the way they promote games and what they choose to promote?

    I think ggambetta is right about how it might work. If visitors increase then what you may see with a game of the day is just an increase in the top titles while anything that isnt top 10 languishes quickly. That's somewhat true of all the other sites as well though. The top games will get promoted and the medium or bad games will never reach their full sales potential because their spots are sacrificed for the bigger earners.
     
  14. Andy

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    :p

    No. You are reading everything correct Gabriel. Even after my accent. :D
     
  15. Vectrex

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    personally I hate this game a day business. It's so 'quantity over quality'. It's like mp3.com proclaiming over a million songs, which is a huge put off :) I'd rather have 3 good things than 300 crap things.
    It might work in the short term but I bet it'll cheapen them in the long run... especially with that toolbar/adware crap.
     
  16. Andy

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    I got the quotation from Steve to add it to my vision of the situation. I just forgot to mention this part at first.

    And speaking about "the same on all archives" - there is the difference for us specifically. Because I liked how Big Fish was working for us specifically even when we weren't on the very top. And I don't expect this in the future.
     
  17. Jack Norton

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    I find much easier to bring more traffic to my website than to make a game that will sell well on BigFish or other portals... :)

    (I can't do good casual games... it's a genetic pathology!!)
     
  18. papillon

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    If only they would run out of silly puzzle games to feed their game-a-day and decide to add some categories to their site that aren't boring... :)

    (says the adventure/RPG fan)

    Enh. Where can I find a portal that features only games that aren't cheerful bland casual family-friendly happy colorful puzzles? :)
     
  19. Pyabo

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    This is a great idea! How about "uncasual.com"? I think it's available...
     
  20. picman

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    A note from Big Fish Games

    Just thought I would risk jumping in here at my own peril :)

    There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

    First Andy, I am curious how many games or sales you have received from Yahoo, MSN, Pogo etc. I would wager it is very close to zero, as they are very hard to get on. What we are offering allows every developer with a high quality game a shot at very substantial sales if their game does well. Our difference is WE do not try to Judge every game as great or only good, we let our visitors decide. This gives small developers a chance at distribution that other large game portals do not offer.

    Second, we do not pass editorial judgement on ANY games or promotions. We are almost 100% statistically driven. If a game perfroms well it bubbles to the top, if it does not, it drops to the bottom and eventually off the site. A great example of this is Betty's Beer Bar. This is a game that most distributors other than Big Fish Games did not pick up when it was released. We gave it a chance and our visitors loved it and it bubbled up to the top and has been in and out of our top ten for over 15 months.

    Third, if a game we take a chance on but no one else does actually performs well on our site, other big distributors keep an eye on us and will often contact the developers of our top performing titles, thus giving the developers even more distribution.

    Bottom line is yes, "A new game a day" helps us build more traffic, but in my (perhaps biased) viewpoint, helps out small developers who often never even get email returned from most the other large distributors.

    And by the way...while we do have large traffic, we started 2.5 years ago as a small indie developer and are still a small private, independant comapany, not a big evil portal.

    So...to agree with others, make great games and you will be successfull!

    Paul Thelen
    Big Fish Games
     

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