Portals Wars! Reflexive vs BFG vs PopCap vs ...?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Jack Norton, Nov 8, 2008.

  1. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    I think BFG is wary of what Amazon will do to Reflexive, and this might be related to that as a prophylactic attack. But I don't have games on either (yet) so this doesn't affect me. The way I see portals as a way to get a few extra sales or something, but the primary focus should be on marketing your own games and your own site. If portals become the primary way to sell games the indie games community will turn into the Flash games community (which is dominated by a few "sponsors" that control everything).
     
  2. JGOware

    Indie Author

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    Interesting.
     
  3. Uhfgood

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    This may be somewhat of a thread-hijack, but I'm curious. There are a few of you who promote selling from your own site instead of using portals. I thought the idea of using portals was to get a wider audience in exchange for giving up a percentage of profits you could make. Does selling from your own site actually make you more money (long or short term), than using various portals?
     
  4. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    It varies, from what I understand. Especially based on the genre of the game. Casual games probably would do better on portals, hardcore indie games like Aquaria would probably do better without them, since they aren't its audience anyway. It depends on how good someone is at marketing, that's probably the main thing: if you'd be better at marketing your game than a portal would be, you'll do better without portals.

    There's also a few negative effects of using portals: typically they sell your game for much less than you'd sell it at (unless you can somehow get a minimum price in your contract), and they make it much easier to pirate a game due to having their own (usually already cracked or keygen'd) anti-piracy system. Some developers told me that they experienced a decrease in sales on their own site when their game got on a portal, with the portal sales not making up for that drop, and some regret the move. Others don't though, others make much more money through portals than alone, results vary.
     
  5. MerscomMan

    MerscomMan New Member

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    I thought I might give some numbers based on our experience with portals so people can make up their own minds. We do not sell through our own site so I do not have comparable data but for those who do, this may help. For a game of ours that hits the top-10 but does not make it to #1 (at least, on a major portal), we normally sell 30k-50k units. For a game that does make it to #1, we sell at least 70k and sometimes over 100k.
     
  6. princec

    Indie Author

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    And if you want to put that in perspective of someone who doesn't make portal games but has direct sales only, that's about 50-100x more sales than we make. Yes, a hundred times more.

    Cas :)
     
  7. Matthew

    Indie Author

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    This isn't the opening salvo, although it's definitely a sign things will get worse. Real and BFG have long been feuding, and iWin and BFG pulled catalogs back in August...

    As already mentioned, it's easy for affiliates to keep listing catalogs from all providers. We're already feeling more pressure from multiple partners, though, and I expect this pressure will ramp up as portals lean on their affiliates to fall in line with their official positions.
     
  8. electronicStar

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    Sorry for continuing the off-topicness, but what percentage does a develloper get after sigining with you (so that, you know, the calculation gets completed ;))
     
  9. MerscomMan

    MerscomMan New Member

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    There is no firm answer, and I am not trying to be evasive. For us, it really depends on a) how much of our Producers' time needs to into the project; b) how much money we need to invest (any funding costs, marketing costs, external testing, focus group testing, etc) and c) the potential of the project (right now, a hidden object game will make a lot more gross revenue than a match-3 so we could pay a much higher royalty).
     
  10. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    You're one of the lower-selling "from their own site" developers though (not trying to be mean, so am I), so it's not really a fair comparison between the games that sell the *best* on the portals vs the games that sell the *worst* from their own site. To be fair we'd have to compare the sales of games like Avernum or Aquaria to the sales of games on the top 10 list on the portals.
     
  11. Jack Norton

    Indie Author

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    Royalties per copy from portals vary a lot. If they sell through their gamepasses obviously you get a royalty per copy very close to $1-2 (depending on the deals).
    So for example 30k "gamepass only" sales would net you 30-60k usd, while to get same money selling directly at $20 you'd need 1500-3000 sales "only"...
    I suspect a game like Avernum makes more than 30k, but the more interesting aspect in selling directly is the long-tail. Usually games on portals fade out quickly with few exceptions, while I know many devs making more "hardcore" games that still sell after years, so that definitely makes a difference in the long run.

    Closing the OT, I think:
    good portal game = huge money, fade out quick, no marketing needed
    good indie game = smaller but constant flow of money over longer period, build customer base, marketing needed
     
  12. Pyabo

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    A better question is "What publishers have shown a track record of building good relationships with developers and treating them with respect as business partners?"

    It benefits us all in the long term if more developers develop a spine and don't work with companies that are continually lowering their revenue share, refusing games with previous exclusive deals at other sites, and in general doing everything they can to act like the old brick & mortar publishers.
     
  13. Shaz

    Moderator Original Member

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    removed this comment. It was based on a misunderstanding and doesn't really apply in this case.
     
    #33 Shaz, Nov 10, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  14. Jason Chong

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    I've always wondered about this affiliate thing. It seems like a quick way to fill up your website with more than 1 game if you're starting out and a way to earn money/traffic fast but I am not sure if it's good for the long term because


    1. You clutter your website with games other than your own.

    2. You might actually be sending your customers to check out games of others and they might never come back.

    3. Your site loses it's identity and become just another of those hundreds of portals with tons of games and no personal touch/soul.

    I might be wrong but that's the impression I get about the affliate system. I am sure they make decent money for the author but I am not sure if it's good in the long term.
     
  15. Shaz

    Moderator Original Member

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    1. If you're only starting out, you'll have a big ONE game on your website. If you're good, you might have TWO games after six months. Customers aren't going to hang around for maybe two games a year. You need a little something else to keep them there, or make them want to come back.

    2. You sell the games from your website. If you set it up so everything they need to do can be done from your site, there's no reason for them to look elsewhere.

    3. You can be selective in what games you offer. Just because a portal has a thousand games, you don't have to offer all of them. You could choose half a dozen faves and just offer those, maybe changing them around from time to time.


    "starting out" and "long term" could be years apart. I think affiliation is a great idea to help you develop a customer base and get a little of income for a little bit of work while you're getting yourself established. Totally agree that "long term" it'd be great to not need to rely on it - but still, if someone wants the newest game offered by XYZ company, I'm happy to sell it to them ;)
     
  16. Maupin

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    That's why Reflexive's system is better for developers also selling their own games - they add your custom graphics/logo to the installer of their games, your logo to the purchase page or ingame window, and they let you keep the customer's email address for your own mailing list.

    But will it last under Amazon... that's what scares me as someone who really took advantage of the custom branding...
     
  17. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    Thanks for sharing these numbers. It would be interesting to have an idea of the budget required to get a game in the top 10. Without being, specific (unless you want to) could you give us an idea of the budget of your games? Or at least, the size of the team and how long it took them to create a top casual game.

    Thanks JC
     
  18. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Just a note that budget isn't usually the issue, it's about theme/genre/content. Lloyd can speak to that I'm sure and let you know what types of games have sold those types of numbers for them. For my part, I can very honestly state that you can spend a lot of money and not make the top 10, and you can spend not a ton of money and reach the top.

    I think your goal should be to make a good-selling game that you think is well-made for as little as possible, but bear in mind, if this is what you are aiming for, you have to be aware of what is going to sell AND whether or not you want to make that type of game :). If you don't, don't bother. Making something you don't like will not produce a great game, which makes it hard to reach the Top 10 ;).
     
  19. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    Yes, I know... Obviously, investing a lot of money is in no way going to guaranty that the game will be successful. However, the latest tops games shows that the quality content as sky rocketed and I am just wondering what kind of budget these games did required.

    In the past, all my games have been extremely cheap to produce. But in today’s market, this is not a viable option. They don’t stand a chance compare to the competion.

    For my new project, I decided to invest a fairly big amount of money (well for my budget). But still, I am suspecting that it will be still a fraction of what should be invested.

    JC
     
  20. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Maybe...another part of the equation is the cost of making things in different countries. Games often cost 10x as much to make in the US as elsewhere. So it's not just that money doesn't buy success, it's that it's really hard to determine how much it is 'costing' to make a game. Much (nearly all) of the top 10 content at any given moment is made outside the US in a variety of economies that make comparison between costs difficult if not impossible to calculate.
     

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