Vortix Games is a flash game development studio that has produced in-house games such as Atomik Kaos and Tech Wars, as well as working on hit games like Crunchball 3000, Palisade Garden, and Cartoon Network’s Mold Rush. In this interview I got the chance to talk to Vlad about his company and their monetization methods.
1. Why did you start Vortix Games?
Me and Marco started Vortix Games as a side project from our own full time jobs. Marco worked in Game Art Direction at RTS, a portuguese studio focused on the download casual market and I was a senior consultant in a major portuguese IT company. To keep it short, I was exhausted from the IT market and Marco was looking for “his own thing”.
2. How and when did Vortix Games start?
That’s a tough one because we had many “starts”, and you are so taking away great “Funny Facts” to post in our own blog. :) It did start when I hired my first artist which happened to be Marco. That was November 2005. We tried a lot of stuff, but we really lacked a coder back then.
I quit my day job about a year later and focused on evolving my skills. Some months later, around April 2007 the second start occurred when Diogo joined the team. With all gamedev needs secured with Diogo, Marco and me, we really oiled up our production pipeline and in February 2008 the three of us registered the company.
We had a slight “rebirth” when Diogo left the company to work for Sony (that’s why we want to make money, to buy Sony’s game studios and get Diogo back!”) but we were already rolling so it wasn’t dramatic.
3. What monetization models does Vortix Games use to generate revenue?
I think that we can divide all our projects into 3 separate categories:
Self-published games, the “typical” flash release in a way where we monetize the game mostly through sponsorship and licensing. There’s a marginal income from in-game ads but… well I have split feelings about it and I need to rethink our strategy;
Collaboration projects, also somewhat typical in the flash game development scene although I believe that the way we see it and manage it is a bit off the usual deal. Nevertheless we monetize it through a percentage of sponsorship, license and so on like a self-published game, we don’t care about advertising in these projects at all;
Contract projects, which can be anything, from art direction to the production of a whole game or even game development courses which is a project we have been discussing lately. These are monetized as a service.
4. Which model have you found tends to be the most profitable?
I’m assuming you mean profit as in earnings less costs. In this case I’d say that releasing games (both ours and collaborations) is potentially more profitable than contracts being the keyword “potentially”.
To get a game out that is profitable you need to have a number of things working for you, such has workflow, quality, design and experience. All of these things are part of a learning process that, in my opinion, never ends. So if a developer can make a game in a reasonable amount of time, with a reasonable amount of quality, that game will be more profitable than a contract, but there’s always a risk involved.
5. What advice do you have for aspiring developers looking to monetize their games?
Take your strongest point and use it commercial, then take the points that you wish to improve and never stop the learning process. Be sure that the game you will release is the best possible game you can do at that moment in time and accept no excuses regarding this, especially your own. And make that game, do it! There’s nothing better than releasing games if the games are of your own highest standard. Finished games mean experience, workflow improvement, contacts and a world of other things that are not possible any other way.
6. Are there any monetization methods that you see becoming more popular in the near future?
In the flash game development market: licensing and microtransactions. I don’t know if this is actually going to happen or if it’s just what we want to happen. :)
7. Anything else you’d like to add?
Indeed I do, thanks. :)
Monetization must follow a strategy and no strategy survives in the long run without commitment. We can debate how, when and why we can make money from flash games, but game development is a matter of commitment and I can’t stress enough that from the jobs I’ve had until now it’s the most intensive but rewarding of them all and to pursue what is a dream job for many people, we need to work not hard, but harder.
I’m contacted day in day out by developers that want to know how to make more money but don’t want to take the time to learn how to make better games. They want to have the contacts but they don’t want to go through the “trouble” of signing a contract. They want to get $500 for every 2 line of portal API that they license but don’t want to give that little something to the portal that is willing to put his money on their games. This lack of hardwork and true professional commitment is what separates an aspiring developer from a full recognized one.