Interested in selling your mobiles games? In this interview, I talk with Chris Hughes from game broker site FGL about how they plan to help you sell your mobile games to publishers.

1. Right now revenue streams for a Flash game developer consist mainly of contracts, advertising networks, or per-game and in-game sales. How does FGL plan to add sponsorships into that mix?

The plan is not to move the web sponsorship model to mobile. Rather, the idea is that FGL will connect games with publishers.

iPhone Game

Publishers can make bids on games, much like sponsors do, but the reason they want the games is slightly different. In the web sponsorship model, sponsors want games in order to drive traffic to their site. On their site they monetize players through ads and other means. With mobile publishing, the goal is usually to monetize players in the game itself. So publishers are interested in bidding on games that will give them a return on their investment by monetizing players through the game; not by pushing the players to a destination. Since this is the case, revenue share plays a bigger part in these deals than they do in the sponsorship model. That said, we are actually hoping to prove to publishers that a version of the sponsorship model will work on mobile.

How this would work is that a publisher would invest in several games and cross promote them with each other. This way, they could move traffic to games that monetize better than others. Like web sponsorships, it would have the benefits of an ad spend, but with the added benefits of being associated with great games and never having to worry about a campaign ending.

From the developer’s perspective, this means they have the ability to get some up front money for their games AND have someone invested in their game who will focus on marketing and publishing of the game (and in many cases this is the biggest advantage).

2. Android game have been supported for some time now on FGL. What kind of response have they received from sponsors?

We actually haven’t supported them for that long.  However, we’ve already seen a bit of interest.  Usually, a publisher is interested in both Android and iOS.  We support licensing for both, and we encourage developers to support both.

The reason we chose to allow developers to upload Android files, and not yet iOS files, is solely because of the restrictions of Apple, and lack of restrictions by Android.  We will eventually add iOS game uploading, but it is going to take three times the work, or more, to support that on our end.  So we figured we’d go with the easier solution to build things up at first.

The good thing is most publishers have both Android and iOS devices to test games with.  So if you plan to support both, they find playing the Android version sufficient to place a bid even if they are bidding for iOS rights.  Also, interestingly, most publishers are using the web version to judge the game.  For example, we have a game currently up that has a bid for ~$50k with 70% of the mobile rev going to the developer… but the mobile version isn’t even made yet!  They are basing their bid on the quality of the Flash version of the game.  I should note here, though, that the developer in this case has already made successful mobile games before, so the publishers are more confident that the mobile version will be just as high quality and fun as the Flash version.

3. In regards to iOS and Android, do you see one operating system overtaking the other as the top player in the mobile games industry?

There are thousands of articles on this all over the web.  From FGL’s perspective, we will support both, and more, as long as there is a viable market.

4. What advice would you give to a developer looking to make money from mobile games?

While planning and developing your game: your primary concern should be gameplay, but a very close second should be your monetization plan.  The most successful developers treat the business model of the game as a fundamental part of the game design.  Every new feature you add to the game should be checked against the business model, and vice versa. When your game is nearly complete, or complete, your concern should be how to best publish the game.  These days, it is very hard to self publish and be successful if you aren’t a well known developer.

I’d also suggest a developer to utilize FGL at all points in the game development process.  We have systems set up to help test games and get early feedback, and we have a great community that also gives feedback.  Then, when the game is nearly done, FGL can help to hook you up with a publisher to get you both a great deal and a great partner for your game.

5. Where do you see the future of Flash going? Is it dying, shifting, growing?

Similarly to the question on Android vs iOS, we’re always going to strive to support all relevant technologies.  That said,  I don’t think Flash is dying, but it is definitely shifting.

For the web, there is without a doubt no real alternative to Flash for distributing a game.  There are some great technologies out there, like Unity and HTML5, but we’ve seen almost no traction from them, so far, in replacing Flash when it comes to the viral spread of a web game.  The mobile arena is much different, of course, and Adobe has already “killed” Flash runtime themselves there.  But we’ve seen some really great games using AIR and as AIR gets more efficient we could see that as a very viable way to create a game easily for both the web and mobile.  Alternatively, as the Unity swf export feature gets better we will see that as a great way to hit both markets easily.

What’s hard about talking about where Flash is going is that there are too many moving parts to pin what the question is even asking.  Flash player?  Flash IDE? Flash to AIR conversion?  Actionscript?  To me, those are all more “Where is Adobe going?” questions, and they have a road-map laid out on their site you can check out.

What I think developers are actually interested in is: “What language and technology should I be working with?”  The answer to that depends on many factors, and would require a post unto itself to answer (for example, are you focusing on mobile only, are you interested in contract work or working with custom IP, how framerate dependent is your game, etc…)

Related posts:

  1. The Future of Flash: An Interview with Jeff and Steve Fulton of 8 Bit Rocket.
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  3. Interview with Andy Moore; Manager of Fantastic Contraption