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

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

  1. JGOware

    Indie Author

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    "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."

    Portals seem to be moving to inhouse development more and more anyway. :(
     
  2. Pyabo

    Original Member

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    Who are you talking about? There's been some consolidation, sure, but this doesn't really help the portal's strategy of screwing over the little guys. :rolleyes:

    More likely that they outsource more and more games... I think this was discussed in the WildTangent thread.
     
  3. MerscomMan

    MerscomMan New Member

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    Our dev budgets are normally between $30k and $75k.
     
  4. MerscomMan

    MerscomMan New Member

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    Exactly, there is a MUCH higher correlation between genre and sales than there is budget and sales. It's no secret that hidden object games generate the most sales and for us adventure games are second. Time management seems comparable to adventure and you can spend $1 million on a match-3 and still sell less than a mediocre hidden object. This will change over time so it is important to watch trends but the short answer to the question is that budget is not the key determinant of success.
     
  5. Pallav Nawani

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    Portal wars are good for the devs because it reduces competition. When a dev releases his hidden object game on Reflexive, there will be no Mystery Case Files to compete with. That's nice.

    The reason why it is not good in the long term is because.... it doesn't work. No use putting 300 games on your website when nobody is visiting your website in the first place! To get people to your website, you need to advertise. Or get some PR somehow. To get a consistent stream of people to your website, advertise consistently.

    Almost, but not quite true. Portal games also sell for a long time period. Bejeweled 2 resurfaces in the Real Arcade top 10 list now and then. Our (portal type) game Angkor continues to bring in revenues from the portals even after 2 years.
     
  6. cliffski

    Moderator Original Member

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    Eh?

    So when there is just one portal and they offer devs 5% royalty, we will be REALLY happy yes?

    I remember when indie gaming meant independent, not an outsource department for a multi-million dollar content aggregator.
     
  7. Jack Norton

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    There won't be competition on Reflexive. Not on whole internet!! You think customers won't be able to buy games elsewhere ?! I really don't understand this point.
     
  8. princec

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    The thing is, if you just look at the existing market for "what sells" and therefore "what to write", you're never, ever, going to be the one that invents the hidden object genre, or the match-3 craze, are you?

    Indies! Start thinking independently!

    Cas :)
     
  9. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    It really depends what you mean by indie. If you are a hobbyist creating games for fun on you spare time, then yes do as you want, create retro games, or whatever you want. This makes complete sense, it is just for fun, create your dream game. But if you are doing this full time and you have a tiny bit of brain, of course you will have to think about your potential market.

    Personally, I have been developing games as soon as I put my hand on a computer. That was 25 years ago. I get my quick by seeing people playing and enjoying my games. I don't care if I don't create the next revolutionary genre, that's not the point. I am creating entertainment and that is what I am spending my life doing. I just like creating games and of course, I like to put some kind of though into it and some of my personality but it cannot be just that.

    JC
     
  10. princec

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    Lucky you that you like doing that! I'd rather spend my time earning a shedload more money working in J2EE if it came down to that.

    Cas :)
     
  11. Pallav Nawani

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    Yes, that's what I meant.
    I am talking about casual game devs here. It has already been previously stated that portal wars mean nothing to indies who sell from their own website, and I don't dispute that. If there are too many games of the same type on portal x, it is obviously more difficult for your game to stand out. And if the games are of the quality of Mystery Case Files, it will definitely affect your sales on portal x.
    How many devs have the budget to make that quality of art & music? I, at least, don't.
     
  12. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    It's funny... Pallav's idea is related to my first thought, which I've resisted sharing so far since it's complete speculation, but he's coming at it from the opposite angle. As someone else said earlier in the thread, it's likely that the result will be different portals specializing in different genres. BFG has made it pretty clear, I think, that all they really want to sell is whatever genre is currently the craze among a very specific (though large) group of customers. Competitors like Reflexive probably can't compete directly, since developers of games like the aforementioned Mystery Case Files will presumably stick with BFG.

    Although there's nothing stopping customers from jumping around between sites, I seem to remember seeing some statistics suggesting that they usually don't, so if the portals start specializing in different styles of games, the customers will probably migrate gradually to whatever portal best meets their interests. It's good for devs if that happens, as you'll be able to make the games you want, and be selling directly to the customers who like what you're doing.

    Pallav's idea is a bit backwards, seen in that light, as he's thinking of selling less polished games on the "wrong" portal, where they won't be overshadowed by their higher-budget competitors. Although counter-intuitive, it's possible that such a micro-ecosystem could survive, assuming some portals are willing to accept games that aren't really their "type." A certain type of customer (say, an adventure fan, on the adventure portal) might be willing to pick up a different type of game (say, a platform shooter) for a change of pace, if they never visit the other portals, especially if the game is offered more cheaply and/or includes some elements of their preferred genre (e.g. a 2D equivalent to a survival horror or Tomb Raider-type game, with some puzzle-adventure elements).

    Really, I don't think any of us can predict what the effects of all this will be. Cliffski's nightmare scenario may come to pass, or this one, or something else entirely... it'll be "interesting" to see what happens, for better or worse.
     
  13. cliffski

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    What I describe is only a nightmare if you are entirely dependent on portal sales. If all hidden object games are sold through BFG, and you make hidden object games, you might as well go and work for BFG at that point.

    The depressing thing is that nothing truly new will ever get made if that happens. The portals already have genres that are extremely limiting. Nobody ever knows which category to put my games in, and neither do I.

    The good news is that there are lots of non casual portals now, and they seem to offer better terms for the developers too.
     
  14. JoKa

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    What portals do you mean? I only know Manifesto for indie games. Are there others which aren't casual and not limited to A+ titles, too?
     
  15. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    That's what I'm talking about, though... if portals go to war and no longer share their games, no one's going to want to be "just like BFG, only crappier." If they can't compete directly, they'll be forced to start looking for new genres.
     
  16. electronicStar

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    The ones that invent new concepts are generally not the ones to reap profits from it. It's generally the first generation of cloners, the rich, professional and well connected ones.
     
  17. JGOware

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    Could you please list some of these portals? Thanks!
     
  18. DFG

    DFG
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    I haven't read all the replies here but this is my take:

    The "content pullback" has been happening for several months now with the big portals. First Big Fish cut us off on the wholesale side and we can only get titles now through their affiliate program. Next, Real Games discontinues their wholesale program and is moving everyone, yes everyone, over to being an affiliate. Before that Real and Big Fish were pulling their content off each other's sites. iWin and Big Fish had issues due to an illegal data mining issue and content was pulled back and forth. Before even that WildGames pulled their titles out of Trymedia's network and went affiliate only.

    All this is about control, those who own the content control where it appears and what price they can charge for it. Big Fish is driving everything to their site and their direct sales model, beefing up their own distribution. If you want to play, you have to bend to this model.

    For us, in most cases we will not be sending our traffic to other sites for short term gain.

    In some ways this is good as it allows sites to have more unique content rather than seeing the same games everywhere. It is bad for developers who get locked into a publishing deal that shortchanges their exposure. It is somewhat bad for affiliate sites that depend on several sources for content. I have no idea how it will affect the end user - guess it depends what sites you frequent.

    Up next - affiliate program wars!
     
  19. arcadetown

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    Yup... already started IMO.

    Developers: How soon till that certain someone DEMANDS affiliate program exclusives for joe developer access to their portal, instead of nicely offering a better deal in exchange for?

    Affiliates: Limited affiliate choices and possibily squeeze affiliate rates. Only source for games published by portal X will be that portal's affiliate program, and possibly extending to simply games run on portal X.

    btw - how long till the uber discounters are selling games for under $5?
     
  20. amaranth

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    Meh. It just means that I juggle more payments coming from multiple locations because I have to go direct.
     

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