Big Fish Games changes affiliate program

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Maupin, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    First, I want to thank you Grey Alien for stepping up and acting as a go-between for us indies. I for one really appreciate you digging for answers on our behalf.

    I'm still rather nervous about the termination language, for the reasons previously mentioned. And I have some of the same reservations that Escapee does:

    I've spent a long time building a loyal customer following (Fashion Cents has been a big part of that), and a nice portion of my income is dependent on keeping those customers happy and purchasing new games. That's one of the basics of the business - catering to your existing customer base, right? It really helps provide me with a somewhat stable source of income, one that I will be dependent on in June when I go full-time indie. As you may recall, growing my business has been a slow process because of the challenges of advertising my particular kind of games, so getting new customers isn't easy. Probably 20-25% of my sales each month consists of new customers. So if BFG claims my existing customer base after a year, that's a serious blow to my income - particularly if I have to be promoting BFG games at least as well as other affiliate programs.

    I understand BFG's desire to invest now in getting more affiliate referrals with the intent of reaping rewards later on, but I have to agree with Escapee: a lower percentage rather than 0% would be much more equitable for smaller affiliates. Otherwise, their smaller affiliates aren't going to survive.
     
  2. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    By the way, has anyone been approved yet? I filled out my application last Friday morning, and the status still says "Pending".
     
  3. Maupin

    Original Member

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    I haven't been approved yet. I signed up soon after receiving the email Friday.

    I have heard back from Gabriela about a question I asked about multiple accounts. I was encouraged by Andrew McNett to setup multiple PNP accounts to distinguish some semblance of campaign activity between sites, and the new program's terms prohibit multiple accounts. Gabriela said to go ahead and register multiple accounts under the new program as well, because they couldn't transfer all the referrals to a single account.

    I plan to post back later with my thoughts on the program in general. So far I'm disappointed but giving it a chance.
     
  4. Grey Alien

    Indie Author

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    You are welcome. I think the idea of referred customers still generating a smaller % after 1 year is a good one (it would keep affiliates motivated), but I bet it would mean some big database/reporting changes to the new system. Why don't you (and any other parties interested in that) get together and email the PNP staff to see what they say? Worst case, they just say no.
     
  5. GolfHacker

    GolfHacker Member

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    Thanks, Jake! I just submitted a question to that effect. We'll see what happens.
     
  6. shed

    shed New Member

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    I speculate there's potentially a few things going on here:

    Firstly, my guess is games revenue may not be growing at the same pace they were 2 years ago, so now margin becomes important way to grow bottom line. Also why we're seeing "Premium versions" selling for 20 bucks

    I'm wondering if the PlayFirst deal also had a bearing on this. What happens to PlayFirst's customer list vs. an existing BFG affiliate? Who gets credit?

    Finally lifetime commitments don't go down well for investors. If BFG wants a big exit in the next 18 months, it will do well to ditch that. Fortunately the "Terms of Service" undoubtedly say something like "We can change the Lifetime term at any time without notice.

    Let's give credit where it's due - BFG has just out-strategized the whole industry - they're WalMart and there's not even a decent Target in site, perhaps a few K-Marts. Kudos to them.

    In the long term, I'm not crazy about their business - the future of gaming (casual or otherwise) is not DL one time pay model. Their one attempt to branch into online - the MMORPG I don't think went anywhere.

    Fortunately they're probably sitting on a boat load of cash and can probably afford to make a few more plays...

    Watch this space.
     
  7. cliffski

    Moderator Original Member

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    Lots of people saw this coming and went on about it endlessly, but nobody on indiegamer wanted to hear it.
    Those people tend not to post here any more.
     
  8. princec

    Indie Author

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    Cliff likes to come in and cackle, like one of those carrion crows.

    Cas :)
     
  9. tolik

    Original Member

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    So when does a centralized Indie Games affiliate program to replace all BFG sites rolls out? I heard it features a CRM back-office for adding new indies easily and managing their reports, a great frontend that could be installed as a hosted solution or embedded as a skinnable iframe, it is full of cool games, affiliation options for both plimus and regnow users as well as a bundler customization and a lot of other stuff, like CDN to store files and a downloader. AND IT PRINTS MONEY (Wii-compatible).
     
  10. Spaiz

    Original Member

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    Where did you hear about this program?
     
  11. wazoo

    Original Member

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    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
    On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
    And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor;
    And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
    Shall be lifted--nevermore!
     
  12. Matthew

    Indie Author

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    The BFG affiliate website presents it as:

    To be honest, I feel like BFG is being disingenuous with this number. My understanding is that they're quoting the number of affiliate cookies that have been set. That doesn't mean those customers are now eligible, though! Big Fish is clever and aggressive. I do respect their business savvy, but let's recap the rules:

    - When a customer buys a game, the last referring affiliate gets commission on them for a year
    - Last-referring means affiliate cookies can be overridden up until purchase time

    And here's where BFG shows its teeth:

    - After that year of commission, the customer is exclusively BFG's
    - Unless they go inactive (no purchases for a year straight)

    I doubt many customers who purchased more than a year ago have gone inactive (and especially doubt that those who have gone inactive would ever purchase again). So who is currently eligible? Let's look at who isn't eligible:

    - Referred customers whose first purchase was more than a year ago, and who continue to purchase a least one game a year, are ineligible.
    - Referred customers whose first purchase was less than a year ago are ineligible because they are still earning commission for the referring affiliate (and will until their year is up). They don't become eligible after a year, though; they become BFG's!

    So who is actually eligible?

    - Customers who haven't made their first purchase.

    This makes sense--BFG's priority with an affiliate program should be to discover new customers!--but it's not the same thing as opening up their customer base to affiliates. For comparison, let's look at who was eligible in the PNP program:

    - Customers who have never visited BFG (doing so would result in an affiliate cookie--keep in mind BFG themselves set this affiliate cookie to AFXXXXXX for direct visits). Side note: I wonder many of those 70 million cookies were actually BFG affiliate cookies?

    So BFG is still aligned with the goal of getting new customers, and are using affiliates to do so. The new program hasn't changed much from PNP in this regard, especially compared to other programs that reward commission per-transcation. With BFG, it's still possible to pay $0.10 for an AdWords click, send that user directly to a download, have them buy the game, and not receive a commission. This is risky, but the risk with PNP was offset significantly by lifetime sales. You might create 5 BFG sales, only to be credited for 1, but that one customer could go on to buy 10 games over the next three years.

    In my opinion more of the risk is now on the affiliate. Yes, there are more available customers to tag, but you still run the risk of paying for and delivering traffic that results in completed sales, only to end up with ineligible traffic (except now the reward for a successful referral has gone down).

    Ultimately whatever percent of the customer base was made eligible for affiliation will be just as claimed in a year's time, except this time exclusively by BFG instead of longtime affiliates.
     
  13. tolik

    Original Member

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    internetz!
     
  14. Spaiz

    Original Member

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    show us links or some more info.
     
  15. tolik

    Original Member

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    i just invented it and provide this program idea under public domain license
     
  16. Applewood

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think he might actually be serious. Funny how you'll believe anything of anyone after being a member here long enough! :)
     
  17. DFG

    DFG
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    You have to remember that the purpose of a company having an affiliate program is to gain customers in the most cost effective way possible. Terms are set by the company and it is up to the affiliate if they want to play along or not.

    Jerking affiliates around is common on the Internet but personally I have not seen bad behavior yet in our industry. Personally I think we have it pretty good.

    Yes, Big Fish changed their terms but they do have the right to do that at any time, every program I have seen does have that right. If I had an affiliate program, I would have to put a clause like that in as well. It is a hard knock for those that have positioned themselves to refer lifetime value though, no doubt about it.

    The only way to eliminate the risks of affiliation is to sign your own direct agreements and wrap and sell the games yourself and pay the developer their cut. Then you can start up your own affiliate program with your own terms :)

    If you are going to be an affiliate, you just have to evaluate the pros and cons of each program and go with it. Sounds like Big Fish is listening to feedback which is a positive sign. My experience with them has not been negative at all. I haven't always liked their decisions, but they have never been dishonest IMO.
     
  18. Shaz

    Moderator Original Member

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    Has anyone been able to get the buy urls from the latest xml feed?

    All the download links on my site are working, but none of the buy links are. Seems there's now a product id that's needed for the buy link, but unless it's hidden away somewhere, I don't see it in the xml.


    edit: links seem to be working again now, using the old (game id rather than product id) url.
     
    #58 Shaz, Feb 10, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2010
  19. Qitsune

    Qitsune New Member

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    7 years? Who the heck hasn't changed computer, formated it or at least cleared their cookies in 7 years? Maybe the cookies have been online for 7 years, but I doubt it's of any significance.
     
  20. Roman Budzowski

    Indie Author

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    The old program tied up customer email with affiliate, so it wasn't only about cookies. I'm not sure what current one does, but I guess it's similar.
     

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