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Thread: [disc]shareware flash games

  1. #1
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    [disc]shareware flash games

    Hi

    I was wondering do you think you can make money doing a shareware flash game. Like you play it on the web site and at the end. You can buy it if you like it. Do you think this has a place in flash gaming and can you make money doing it?



  2. #2
    Patron Saint of Beatings WilloughbyJackson's Avatar
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    Where there is a buck to be made, you can make it...

    I can think of a bunch of Japanese Flash downloads that I'm sure make quite a few yen...

    Since this is a PG-13 board, I'll leave it at that...

    Anyhow, I have seen a "Play the Demo -> Download full game for money" arrangement on miniClip/Shockwave, but I'm not sure how well they are doing with it.

    -pXw

  3. #3
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    tough one. there are TONS of games out there available for free. you need to make something that is unique and addictive and then you need to market it.

    choosing to distribute via shareware alone will not make you any money. some years ago my company released a very full-featured spreadsheet and word processor to compete with MS Office. we chose shareware as the distribution method. unfortunately we did not also invest in any marketing. even though the products received rave reviews from now-defunct Windows magazine, we barely made enough $$ to go out to dinner a few times!

    my advice...do a very cool game and only release a limited version (but not too limited). promote it and try to get LOTS of people interested in it. if you get enough interest then release a version where you require payment.

    another option would be to create a game that could be easily branded and then try and market it directly to companies with an advertising budget. retain the rights to the game in non-competing areas so you have a chance to repeat the formula.
    Last edited by XcVbSdRw; 06-23-2004 at 04:36 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member webgeek's Avatar
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    only release a limited version (but not too limited). promote it and try to get LOTS of people interested in it. if you get enough interest then release a version where you require payment.
    I don't really agree with the last sentence. If you don't have a sellable version when you generate interest, you are losing customers. If you want to make money, you have to run some risks. I suggest you create a fully function game that you think will do well and then strip it down for the free version.

    In our case (and most other online game companies) we release a fully-functional offline version that has a time or play limit built in. This targets impulse buyers. The free online version is really just a method to drive people to the offline one, as that's what you can sell.

    Don't get me wrong though, we're talking about a lot of work here. Taking an online game and turning it into an offline game can be a challenge. You also need to wrap the game with some SWF wrapper (we prefer Flash Studio Pro over all others), build an installer, provide tech-support, accept credit cards (or work with someone who does) and handle the many other things that come up.

    All in all, it can be worth it, but it can be a bust too.

  5. #5
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    An old idea that I hope to implement in the future, probably better with a team:

    Start building a gaming service. Have two different sections: the Showcase and the Archive. Visitors can view your Showcase, which would be whatever games you just finished that week. However, if they want to keep playing the games when they go into the Archives, then they have to pay $x.xx per month.

    This works especially well if there would be records to keep on your server, like high scores or character data. Members' fees would pay for that as well.
    blah.

  6. #6
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    I don't really agree with the last sentence. If you don't have a sellable version when you generate interest, you are losing customers. If you want to make money, you have to run some risks. I suggest you create a fully function game that you think will do well and then strip it down for the free version.
    You make a very good point...I guess I might change my comment to "do your homework and marketing research BEFORE spending a lot of time in the actual development." That could include developing a beta version and passing it around this forum before putting the final game together.

    In our case (and most other online game companies) we release a fully-functional offline version that has a time or play limit built in. This targets impulse buyers. The free online version is really just a method to drive people to the offline one, as that's what you can sell.
    I'd love to know just how successful you have been with your games for sale. However, I also understand completely that you cannot divulge such info! Trouble is, for those who have yet to sell their first game, it is hard to set realistic expectations. We always hope for an overnight, runaway success but in reality it rarely happens that way (if at all). And even those who appear successful are not necessarily so! I'd venture to guess that the vast majority of shareware authors never make a significant amount of money.

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    You also need to wrap the game with some SWF wrapper (we prefer Flash Studio Pro over all others)
    Now you really have my attention! Would you please elaborate on why you chose this tool?

    I have several concerns with the 3rd-party wrappers out there; my main ones are,

    1) they tend to be very small developers who are releasing a constant stream of fixes and updates to their products. new "fixes" often break current features! my concern here is whether any of these tools is truly stable enough to use in our business.

    2) because of the way most wrappers work (by using the Flash OCX or installing it) your programs created with them will fail on computers where the users do not have admin rights (assuming they also do not have the required version of the Flash OCX preinstalled). this issue alone has caused us to abandon, at least for now, these tools.

    3) we have serious questions about whether it is strictly legal to wrap and distribute the Flash OCX in the way most wrappers currently work. if you read the Macromedia's license terms at http://www.macromedia.com/support/sh...g/license.html you'll see what I mean. to date MM has not targeted either the wrapper vendors nor their customers. but they also have not blessed the concept and their license terms appear to have the power to squelch it if they so desired.

    I'd welcome any thoughts on all this.
    Last edited by XcVbSdRw; 06-24-2004 at 04:16 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member webgeek's Avatar
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    Let me see if I can put my thoughts to some of these...
    Now you really have my attention! Would you please elaborate on why you chose this tool?
    Jobe is the real brains behind these things. We have played with several of the available tools. Some had bugs we coulnd't work around. Some were too weak. Some had painful licenses that would cause issues. Basically we sampled the waters until we found one that did what we wanted, was basically bug-free, could be licensed in a way we liked, and was powerful/flexible. Flash Studio Pro meets all of these requirements for us. There might be other great ones out there, but this is our current preference.

    1) they tend to be very small developers who are releasing a constant stream of fixes and updates to their products. new "fixes" often break current features! my concern here is whether any of these tools is truly stable enough to use in our business.
    Yup, it happens. We've been burned by it several times. SWFXXL in particular had bugs that nailed us. For the most part, we have had good luck with Flash Studio Pro. They attend all the Flash Forwards and are nice guys to boot. This is just a risk you take. Flash runs in the browser, the projector is crap offline. If you want a workable offline application (outside Central, don't get me started on that!), then this is pretty much what you have to do.

    2) because of the way most wrappers work (by using the Flash OCX or installing it) your programs created with them will fail on computers where the users do not have admin rights (assuming they also do not have the required version of the Flash OCX preinstalled). this issue alone has caused us to abandon, at least for now, these tools.
    Yup, another risk. The only way to get around this is if someone were to write their own replacement for the Flash player. This is unrealistic at best. Not a lot you can do here. We have more failures from this type of problem then I would like, but it could be much worse. If you think about it though, the VAST majority of users have admin access to their local machine. I think this is more of an issue in the corporate (or restricted) environment.

    3) we have serious questions about whether it is strictly legal to wrap and distribute the Flash OCX in the way most wrappers currently work... to date MM has not targeted either the wrapper vendors nor their customers. but they also have not blessed the concept and their license terms appear to have the power to squelch it if they so desired.
    This is a concern I have as well, but I don't have a good way to answer it other then it would be against Macromedia's best interest to make a stand. Flash is in a VERY tenuious position right now. Microsoft and Sun are both making big steps into the whole RIA market. In the case of Microsoft, they don't lose these type of battles often.

    What's the real strength of the Flash technology? I'd say something like small file size, good GUI capabilities, easy development, and massive player availability. Java and .Net have small file size already. They also have power that makes Flash look like a toy. But, they both lack the availability that Flash has. This is something Sun and Microsoft are working to address. In Microsoft's case, it's "ClickOnce" and in Sun's case, it's "WebStart". Both are ways to deploy applications remotely over the web. Flash's strength over Java and .Net lies in it's ubiquitiousness and ease of development. If Macromedia were to crack down on the 3rd-party developers, they would weaken Flash's position in the market by making it less friendly to developers. They would limit Flash's capabilities when Flash is already the underdog in this competition.

    Man, I just looked back on this message. Quite the soap box speech. Sorry about that, I wasn't paying attention to the length!

    Have fun!

  9. #9
    Senior Member youmex's Avatar
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    I prefer Jugglor since it works with projectors and is the only tool, as far as I know, which can do that. Using the Flash OCX makes a game at least 20% slower as if it runs in a projector. Especially if you programm very performance critical games / applications this 20% are a pain in the a.. On the other hand Flash Studio has a lot of more features, but still bugs. We've last tested both tools 3-4 months ago.
    Be a worm and catch fruits in a parallax scenario:

    http://www.nibbly.com/flug.html

  10. #10
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    Michael,

    thanks for your detailed responses. they are very helpful. a couple more questions if you don't mind!

    For the most part, we have had good luck with Flash Studio Pro. They attend all the Flash Forwards and are nice guys to boot. This is just a risk you take.
    what version are you using? I guess you are confident it is stable enough for your purposes?

    We have more failures from this type of problem <admin rights/OCX install> then I would like, but it could be much worse. If you think about it though, the VAST majority of users have admin access to their local machine. I think this is more of an issue in the corporate (or restricted) environment.
    do you have any idea as to the percentages of users without admin rights? our company likes to use Flash for standalone marketing projects but when you are marketing (as opposed to providing something your end user truly wants like a game) your standalone absolutely must run immediately, no questions asked in order to ensure decent exposure. my concern is our clients' clients are often in a corporate environment and I cannot satisfactorially explain why our brilliant marketing CD won't run on many of their computers!!

    one more thing on this...are you using the latest Flash Studio Pro? they claim to have resolved the admin/OCX problem. I'd be interested in hearing if you have any experience with this aspect of FSP.

    it would be against Macromedia's best interest to make a stand...If Macromedia were to crack down on the 3rd-party developers, they would weaken Flash's position in the market by making it less friendly to developers. They would limit Flash's capabilities when Flash is already the underdog in this competition.
    you are almost certainly correct but I have quite an aversion to developing dependence on use of tools in a way that could be in violation of their license. I guess I need to be a bit more daring!

    What's the real strength of the Flash technology? I'd say something like small file size, good GUI capabilities, easy development, and massive player availability. Java and .Net have small file size already. They also have power that makes Flash look like a toy. But, they both lack the availability that Flash has.
    small file size and player penetration are important for web-distributed applications but much less so when CD/DVD is the medium. that said, there is still great benefit because, as you pointed out, you can develop for both the web and standalone in one effort with Flash and a wrapper.

  11. #11
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    tough one. there are TONS of games out there available for free. you need to make something that is unique and addictive and then you need to market it.
    I don't think having something unique is the key to success. The most popular shareware games are re-hashes of old game designs. What these games successful is polish.

    Polish. Good interface, good design, sprites, sound, etc. Make your game immediatly stand out from other freegames by making them look and sound better.

    Look at PopCap. All their games are re-makes, but they are executed very well and that's what sets their clones apart from the other 1000 clones out there.

  12. #12
    Senior Member webgeek's Avatar
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    what version are you using? I guess you are confident it is stable enough for your purposes?
    I don't know the specific version. This is more Jobe's area of expertise. I know that we don't have stability problems with it though.

    do you have any idea as to the percentages of users without admin rights?
    None at all, sorry. Home users generally are admins on thier own machine

    The most popular shareware games are re-hashes of old game designs.
    I disagree here. The big hits are all pretty unique. For instance Collapse, Bejeweled, etc. They are puzzle games but unique.

    Interestingly enough though, the most consistantly popular games are Solitaire and Majhong. You can confirm that by looking at multiple sites like Zone, GameHouse, etc.

    Have fun!

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