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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessQuestions About FlashGameLicense
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bateleur
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« on: March 31, 2010, 08:07:44 am »

Please could someone who has used FlashGameLicense help by answering a couple of questions? (I could post on the forums there, but would prefer unbiassed answers!)

I've recently uploaded my game there and it was approved a few days ago...

1) I've heard lots of talk about Editor Ratings but I can't see one for my game. Are they secret? If not, where can I find it?

2) I've had lots of views (hurrah!) and the vast majority of sponsors are actually playing the game. However, only three bids so far and the two sponsors bidding are two I was chatting to via message and basically talked into it. All three bids are very low. I'm not supposed to talk about bid amounts, but suffice to say these are opening bids rather than the sort of thing I expect to accept. Is there some reason why sponsors initially hold off bidding even unrealistic amounts? If so, what? Is there anything I can do about this? (With my game theory hat on I worry about any auction that looks like this!)

3) Whilst I'm obviously not ready to do so yet (FGL advise waiting a month) what's the best strategy for using "Last Call". If I get no decent bids, should I use it at all? Should I use it in response to the first decent bid I get?

(Game vid

for the curious, although I'm not so much after estimates of value.)
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Radix
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2010, 03:15:10 pm »

Editor's rating is on your game's page, in the Information box. It doesn't mean much besides getting you extra views if it's high.

Your thing's only been up for a couple of days so I wouldn't sweat it too much, unfortunately things on FGL often don't happen fast. You can contact sponsors that haven't seen your thing yet by email to help things along.

I've only used Last Call once but it seems to be really effective. You've only got one shot, and I think you have to wait at least two weeks from approval to use it anyway, so I'd save it until you're close to accepting a bid.
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raiten
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2010, 05:31:49 pm »

I hear a lot of sponsors hold off waiting for last call, but I still wouldn't recommend using it unless you're fine accepting the bid you currently have, because you never know.

Honestly, I've never found a sponsor on FGL and I've never had the luck to get caught in a "bidding war" on there. I think it's still a lot easier to get deals done by contacting sponsors directly.
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bateleur
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2010, 11:20:02 pm »

Editor's rating is on your game's page, in the Information box.
Aha! Thanks. Gentleman

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I've only used Last Call once but it seems to be really effective.

OK, that's worth knowing if I make reasonable progress across the next month.

Honestly, I've never found a sponsor on FGL

Useful info, thanks. Also quite weird. The system there seems really good - I wonder why sponsors don't like it?
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moi
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2010, 09:27:40 am »

I think sponsors don't like it because it puts them in competition for the benefit of the develloper.
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raiten
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2010, 05:20:28 pm »

Useful info, thanks. Also quite weird. The system there seems really good - I wonder why sponsors don't like it?

I don't think it's the case that they don't use it, I think it's more that it's harder to get their attention by being one of 20 people who upload a game on any given day. Direct approach has always worked better for me, but I know some people have benefited greatly from "bidding wars" on FGL. Andy Moore, for example.
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weasello
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2010, 05:22:25 am »

The whole key to selling a flash game is making it stand out in a crowd. There is a gigantic river of developers dumping millions of gallons of games into a game-filled ocean every day. When a sponsor comes sailing along you have to convince them that your mug-sized patch of water is better than all the others.

In the current state of the flash industry, it's fairly easy to do so. Waterwings are relatively cheap. Just slap a heck of a lot of polish and gameplay testing onto any old idea and you'll stand out that easily. Have novel gameplay? even better.

That's in contrast to the mainstream gaming market; everyone's got a ton of polish and huge budgets. Making an indie title stand out in that crowd is difficult. At least you get the "aw look them, so cute" bonus (aka Indie Press).

What's really killer (in a bad sense) is having an original gameplay idea and making it look/feel like the rest of the ocean. Gameplay is not enough to stand on it's own, and many sponsors will pass you by. Remember that the average sponsor gives your game less than 2 minutes of review time.
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IndieElite4Eva
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2010, 05:32:15 am »

To answer your queries though,

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editor ratings

Sponsors can sort games by editor rating. The higher it is the more likely it'll get looked at, and the sooner it will get looked at. Recently revealed info says that your Market Level and Community Level also help determine rankings;

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Someone with a market level of 8 will have their game featured on the front page for weeks. Someone with a level of 0 might be up there for a few hours.

Being involved and active in their community (and gaining community levels) will make a direct impact on how many sponsors see your game.


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2) Is there some reason why sponsors initially hold off bidding even unrealistic amounts?

Do you go to eBay, see the current bid is $0.10, and say "ohhai I think I will bump this up to $100 because I think that's what it's worth", or do you say "$0.20!"?

It's just the nature of auctions.

I recommend (but can be wrong here) waiting at least 2 weeks before contacting anyone. Then take a look at who has viewed your game and email the big sponsors that haven't looked at it yet. Something along the lines of:

"Hay! I love your site but was a little heartbroken you hadn't seen my game on FGL yet. Here is a 30 second trailer link [link] and a two sentence description [blah]. If you're interested at all, please bid!"

If you have any marketing leverage really work it. "I also made famous game XYZ!" or "We might have met at GDC!" or "I know the guys on TIGsource I can probably get the game featured once sponsored!"... Anything you can.

After another week, if you still aren't happy with the amounts write to the sponsors who have bid and let them know. Say "I was really hoping for something in $XXX range, is there anything we can work out?".. If the sponsors know they are getting a wicked deal they might be happy to let you in on a bit of a bigger cut.

In the end, you don't have to take the highest bidder's offer. You can flatly turn down everything and maybe self-publish (slap some ads on the game and let it go viral).

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3) Whilst I'm obviously not ready to do so yet (FGL advise waiting a month) what's the best strategy for using "Last Call".

Last call is just a Macro button. All it does is emails everyone who earmarked the game as a "maybe" (or anyone who has bid) and lets them know you are going to decide soon. Treat it as such; it isn't some magic countdown clock or anything. Some sponsors will wait till the last minute to post; if that happens, just extend the last call period (it lasts as long as you want, you have to manually end it, though they recommend 48 hours or so).

Any questions I'd be happy to answer for you, either here or GChat/email ([email protected])
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IndieElite4Eva
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2010, 02:38:17 am »

Thanks - lots of helpful info there! Gentleman

Re: auctions - What I meant was actually the opposite. I was surprised that there weren't dozens of +10p style bids coming in whilst the game was still underpriced.

The stuff about front page and community rating makes a lot of sense and explains most of what I'm seeing. Lots of smaller companies hunting for bargains and no sign of all but one of the big dogs. Makes a lot of sense. I'll contact them and recommend they take a look once it's been up for s decent length of time.
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mirosurabu
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2010, 06:24:01 pm »

Hey bateleur!

I'm the guy you sat next to at the TIGJam in Cambridge. (: Just so you know whom you're talking to!

I'm going to talk about my experience a bit and review FGL if you don't mind.
I sold around 10 games in the past, some through FGL and most via direct approach.

I'm going to say that I really don't like FGL. I find it disheartening for beginners. It's supposed to help developers, but.. what's the first thing they do? They rate your game. It can be as bad as 3 or as mediocre as 7 but they rate you and I found out that most developers feel discouraged by this. Sure, FGL is clear about the fact that badly rated games sell too but developers keep fearing. I think the reason why they have trouble digesting the rating is that they are new, they aren't confident they will sell the game and they have trouble maintaining the confidence they barely have.

The next thing that usually happens is joy caused by new views and perhaps a couple of small bids in the $200 - $300 range. But after one or two days everything stagnates, probably because your game got lost in the mass of other new games, so no sponsor can see it anymore.

Then you get reviews from developers. Sometimes. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes they are helpful. But you really shouldn't rely on these reviews after all. You should have playtested your game days before submitting it to FGL. Sometimes reviews cause you joy, like the ones written by Greg from Kongregate.

Then you lose the hope. If you're new and lack confidence, sure you do.

It's passive and there's a lot of noise. Since it's auction bids start low and you can't even negotiate bids with Lars from King.com or Robin from Gimme5Games. It's auction, they don't care. On top of FGL takes 10% commission of your sales.

So, FGL is useful only when you want to make a bid war or when you want to discover new sponsors. It requires patience and it also requires you to approach directly, although FGL staff is against mailing sponsors about your FGL game early in the phase. They recommend waiting three weeks at least and then, if you get no decent response, send your e-mails. (someone correct me if I'm wrong though; I read this months ago, perhaps this has changed now)

Direct approach with no FGL involved feels more scary at the first thought, but once you get hang of it, it's quite simple. You have to know sponsors, be consistent and perhaps employ some direct marketing 101.

In direct approach you can be unsure and open to negotiation or you can be confident and be impulsive. You can say "If you offer me [this much] we have an immediate deal!" or you can ask them to place their bid or start high and lower your price gradually through a series of e-mail spanned over a couple of weeks. You can present your game more directly. You can relate it to one of their successful games. You can brag a bit (a bit). And so on.

Knowing sponsors, their niche, their audience and their budget is also very useful. ArmorGames, Newgrounds, Kongregate, SpilGames, AddictingGames, King they can pay in any range. Minijuegos and MoFunZone on the other hand tend to pay less for primary/exclusive licenses. Newgrounds and Kongregate are looking for all kinds of games. King is looking mostly for mouse-driven games, physics games mostly. Minijuegos looks for small, simple games. SpilGames has many portals, they are mostly looking for casual stuff, simple addicting games, kids games.

For me, that works better than FGL, even though you might not be able to sponsor it by King for example. (as far as I know they mostly sponsor FGL games, correct me if I'm wrong)

So, I'd say that FGL is useful only as the last resort. If you're confident you have a great game, determine your price and sell it directly.
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moi
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2010, 06:24:21 am »

I heard there was somthing like 20 new games put in the database each day on FGL.
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xiotex
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2010, 01:50:15 pm »

I have to add my experience to this. I managed to sell one game through FGL but the second one went sour. I got a bid from a sponsor which I accepted, made the changes they required and then when it came to cashing up they claimed they had run out of money and would I mind waiting for a couple of months. At this point it was too late and couldn't re-enter sponsorship. This means that they don't vet potential sponsors and you can get burned. They have also taken on a very elitist view of games rather than be for all the flash developers like they originally claimed to be.
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aeiowu
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2010, 01:54:33 pm »

I have to add my experience to this. I managed to sell one game through FGL but the second one went sour. I got a bid from a sponsor which I accepted, made the changes they required and then when it came to cashing up they claimed they had run out of money and would I mind waiting for a couple of months. At this point it was too late and couldn't re-enter sponsorship. This means that they don't vet potential sponsors and you can get burned. They have also taken on a very elitist view of games rather than be for all the flash developers like they originally claimed to be.
Sorry to hear that. it's true, they don't vet potential sponsors so you should proceed with the same caution you would when doing business with someone. If they feel slimy, they probably are.

BTW, what is the "elitist view of games" that you're talking about? Was there something that happened to you specifically that made you feel that way?
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xiotex
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2010, 01:58:20 pm »

It was a very long time ago. I was in contact with the founder of the site when he was proposing becoming an agent for flash game developers and this was a good idea. It eventually turned into FGL. Later I got in contact with him to give some advice on a game in progress but the response was along the lines of (paraphrased, it was a long time ago) they were only interested in 'AAA" flash games and would not promote anything else.
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moi
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2010, 08:12:32 pm »

Well when you read some of their forum posts, they make you feel like all the devellopers are panhandling hobos and all the sponsors are part of the jet set. And writing to a sponsor about your game is like telling a sex joke to the queen of england.
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weasello
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2010, 08:15:48 pm »

I think anyone on the fence should take all these opinions (including my old one) with a grain of salt, and actually participate/try it out for themselves. I'm actually LOLing at some of the comments here. Smiley
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IndieElite4Eva
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2010, 10:37:36 am »

I think anyone on the fence should take all these opinions (including my old one) with a grain of salt, and actually participate/try it out for themselves. I'm actually LOLing at some of the comments here. Smiley

That of course is the truth, no matter what your concerns are about FGL there is absolutely no harm in trying it.
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ch00se
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2010, 01:39:30 pm »

Hey Everyone,

This is Chris from FGL. I've been following this thread a bit and figured I'd let it go since there were devs from both sides chiming in and I would have an obvious bias in the discussion Smiley

However, there have been a few incorrect statements made about our site that I feel compelled to address:

1) we DO vet sponsor accounts.. in fact, quite strictly.  I always find this a funny topic because sponsors say "you are too strict" and developers say "why aren't you more strict?" We require a minimum alexa ranking to even sign up.  The only exceptions we make are if sponsors pay a $500 escrow payment.  That means that they are guaranteeing they will spend at least $500 on games (we don't get any of that money, it is in escrow for them to spend on your titles).  This may seem like a small amount, but we are mainly interested in finding out if a sponsor is really motivated to spend money on games, and we all have to start somewhere Smiley

2) PLEASE point out to me where we've made developers sound like hobos!!  Adam (the other co-founder) and myself ARE developers!  It would be pretty silly of us to call ourselves hobos Smiley  we started FGL because we saw that developers were under-appreciated and underpaid and that a site like this was needed to both even the playing field and easily bring everyone together under one roof to more easily negotiate better deals and work along side other developers.

3) We have never advised you to not communicate with sponsors.  In fact, the site makes it EASIER for you to do that.  We have friend lists, PM systems, notification systems, lists of everyone that has played your game and how long, and the list goes on and on... I don't know anyplace else where you have this sort of data, and this sort of closeness to the people who are trying to sponsor your games.  And though I will agree there are good ways and bad ways to handle sending out emails or randomly PMing sponsors, we don't limit anything through our ToS or our system in this regard.

4) Though we want to help developers make the best games possible (we have many services, including personally being willing to give feedback) we do not limit the site to AAA games.  I have a feeling that comment is coming from back when Adam was doing his own agent thing and had limited time to work with all devs.  And that may even be incorrect.  The fact is our site is open to anyone wanting to submit a game (we're not even limited to Flash, believe it or not).

5) The rating system.  Sigh.  This is the most difficult topic, and it comes up often.  The bottom line is we have to do this or sponsors wouldn't even visit the site.  As I said, if you are unhappy with a rating we have multiple ways to help you improve a game, and also we are up to hearing your argument as to why it should be rated higher even without changes.  In the end we're pretty good about knowing what sponsors like and so that's what are ratings are based on.  Even if we know a game is going to be awesome, but the graphics are just horrible, we know you can get even more money if you improve the graphics, so the ratings will be reflected as such (and that is just an example). Also, I think our rating system is a bit misleading in a few ways.  Firstly, a 7 is actually a good score.  Games sell for $10k+ in some cases with 7s.  Secondly, it is just ONE SMALL factor in the overall system. Ultimately, if your game is good it will get attention and get a sponsorship (and we, the admins, are always a PM or email away if you feel like you are being overlooked).

So I just wanted to add that.  I know our system isn't perfect.  Also realize we are a small team of indie developers who started this thing on the side... it has grown incredibly so it is our main focus now, but we are not VC backed and we don't have any investment or outside source of funding.  We put in what we get out, basically.  That goes for GamerSafe too.  So my apologies for any issues you have with the site.  We are always striving to make it better, so please let us know if you have any ideas,input, or criticisms.

Thanks!
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xiotex
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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2010, 02:16:18 pm »


1) we DO vet sponsor accounts.. in fact, quite strictly.  I always find this a funny topic because sponsors say "you are too strict" and developers say "why aren't you more strict?" We require a minimum alexa ranking to even sign up.  The only exceptions we make are if sponsors pay a $500 escrow payment.  That means that they are guaranteeing they will spend at least $500 on games (we don't get any of that money, it is in escrow for them to spend on your titles).  This may seem like a small amount, but we are mainly interested in finding out if a sponsor is really motivated to spend money on games, and we all have to start somewhere Smiley

How is that $500 used, do you gather it from the sponsor or is it like a pledge? Ironically it was $500 that I accepted for a flash game. But when it came to paying up this is what the sponsor said:

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Ive kind of run into a problem here. I really dont have much money to buy the game, and though i really want to buy it as it is great. I will be getting money in mid april, if your still interested in selling to me. If not and if you want to sell to somebody else, i guess that is okay to.

When I reported this to FGL there was quick action:

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I cancelled and revoked that sponsor's bidding priveleges. I am very sorry that this happened to you, but it will not happen to anyone else from this sponsor. I hope that your game will get equal or better bids.

However by this point the damage had been done because the game was out on the web and no more bids came in. So if $500 was collected from the sponsor surely it should be used as a guarantee that they can pay the developer for just this kind of situation?
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ch00se
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« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2010, 03:02:15 pm »

Yes, that IS why we collect the $500, for cases just as this.  I'm not sure of this particular situation.. maybe the sponsor already exhausted his escrow?  Maybe they actually had a large enough site to not have to pay an escrow?  Feel free to contact me about it.  I'm sure we could at least re-list the game.

You can email me at chris [at] flashgamelicense.com
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