FlashGameLicense is as far as I know the only Flash broker out there and is used by every Flash game sponsor, so it’s amazing that despite their monopoly they’re working so hard to improve it all the time. When I uploaded Rebuild I got great feedback from the FGL admins who play every game before it’s allowed up for bidding. They were really enthusiastic and helped personally through the bidding process, so I was happy to pay their 10% commission – they really do deserve it.
Of course, FGL doesn’t come through for everyone. The average winning bid for primary sponsorship is under $1000, usually for things like dressup or seasonal games that sponsors can easily judge the value of because they’ve seen them a thousand times before. Colin tried to find a sponsor for Fantastic Contraption through FGL, but the best he got was an offer of $300 for full ownership of the source (try 1,000 times that, asshole). This was three years ago and FGL has improved their content discovery tools, but it’s still hard for sponsors to know if a confusing, wordy game like Rebuild is going to be popular.
I’m not at liberty to give you exact numbers (visit Andy Moore’s blog for that) but here’s how Rebuild’s bidding went on FGL. It started out with a bang, a higher-than-average-sale bid from a fellow developer looking to promote his Zombie-themed MMO by featuring it on other games’ loading screens. In my opinion a pretty cool way to simultaneously advertise and support other developers. Three other sponsors I’d never heard of joined in and by the end of the second day I’d made my minimum wage.
Someone put a bid in for a sitelock, which is a secondary sale made after primary sponsorship. You create a version of your game locked to one domain, stripping out ads and primary sponsor logos and implementing the secondary sponsor’s high scores api. It was early, but they were letting me know they were interested no matter who won the primary bid. JayIsGames contacted me to say they wanted to review the game when it came out. This is my go-to site for casual games so I was pretty stoked! I got excited about how fast things were happening and pulled in some contacts to invite the other major sponsors to take a look.
Then I heard nothing – no bids – for five days.
At this point there were two highest bids for the same amount with different contract terms. One of them included ads and extra work, so I contacted that bidder and told them that I was favoring the other offer. Bidding sprang to life again! I still hadn’t seen hide nor hair of any big sponsors, but the guys who were bidding seemed to personally like my game and were willing to go above budget for it.
From then on, every time bidding stalled I messaged the runner-up again to let them know that, although I really liked them and their bid was great, the other offer was a little better. I gave a specific dollar amount they’d have to put in to beat it. I think I would have missed out on a lot of bids if I hadn’t done this. We were well into the holidays at this point but I got bids even on Christmas day (a marvelous present!).
Until then the offers had been for primary licenses with additional work requirements (apis, new features, etc which were increasing in complexity as the bids went up). Two Towers Games asked about switching to exclusive, which meant I wouldn’t be able to sell sitelock versions to other sponsors. Implementing sitelock apis seemed like effort I could be spending on my next game instead, so I agreed. Their winning bid went in 20 days after bidding started and sat for another week before I accepted it. Again, I can’t tell you how much it sold for, but I will say it brought me into the FGL top-sellers list.
My sponsor Two Towers was new on the scene, and the exclusive license gave them more time and control over Rebuild’s release and traffic. I was a little dismayed to find I’d agreed to implement ads (this is standard in most licenses) but we agreed there’d be none in the Kongregate version which was what I really cared about. It took about a week to make all the necessary changes for launch.
Rebuild spent the first month live only on twotowersgames.com, then I uploaded versions to Kongregate and Newgrounds and it began to make its rounds on the internet. Two Towers devised a cunning system of dynamically showing content based on a call to their servers, which lets them control on the fly which sites see ads or bonus content. I was also able to sell a few sitelocks with their approval, so long as their branding stayed on.
For reasons that I don’t fully understand, Rebuild shot to the top of the Kong rankings, won the weekly and monthly contests and after one month is still the #3 highest ranked game with 1.5M plays.
I’ve gotten hundreds of emails and pms with suggestions for the sequel which I’m eager to get started on, but first I need to finish the game I started during bidding: Word Up Dog. I’ll try to post updates here on the progress of both games.