Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

An afternoon chat with Ryan

Our friend Ryan of Freelance Flash Games News released a book last year, "Getting your Flash game sponsored". You can guess what it's about, it's not an overly cryptic title.
We were lucky to conduct an interview with Ryan about it and thought it may be an idea to share what was said.


: There's a saying that we all have a book in us, why did you decide to write this one ?
The idea for the book came back in December of 2009. I had taken some time off from writing for my site to focus on personal things, but something drew me back to the flash games scene. Maybe it was the cold, maybe I just missed it.
As I began to re-enter into the flash games community, it soon came to my attention through FGL that many developers were having trouble getting their games sponsored. A lot of these developers had quality games too.
I noticed there was information out there to help these developers, but no one had every compiled it together into one, easy-to-understand guide. I had already written a series of articles on helping developers get their games sponsored for my site, so decided I should expand those into a book to help these developers.
Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

: I'm guessing it took more than a weekend to knock out ? How long did it actually take ?

About 9 months: a few months of researching, then a whole lot of writing, with some more researching throughout.

: What's the goal of the book ?

My main goal is to help developers. If I’ve helped a couple newbies get their first sponsorships, and a couple experienced developers make more money, then I’ll consider it a success.
On a more personal note, it’d be nice to sell a couple hundred copies :D

: Here's a nasty question, after a 9 month gestation, would you want to do it again ?

You learn so much by writing a book. I discovered more about the sponsorship process as I delved into the research of the book, but it’s more than that. There are so many things that go into the creation of a book. You’ve got to set up a plan, come up with an outline, research those sections, talk to important people in the industry, write the sections, format it all and then prepare for the release. But out of all that work, comes this creation that you’ve made, and all the people you’ve gotten to know through it.
If anyone reading this ever gets the chance, give writing a book a try. You might be surprised at what you can do.

Q: Bit of a cheeky one, how has the response been so far ?

The response has been pretty good. The book peaked with a lot of attention in the first week from blogs and social media sites, but there are a couple big promotion ideas I’ve got lined up for the future.
Since releasing, I’ve heard a lot from newer developers about how useful the book was in helping them go through the sponsorship process. Experienced developers haven’t had as much to say, but the book is more geared towards beginners and intermediates so that’s to be expected.

: if you had to chance to go back, what would you change ?

I wish I had used a different release page starting out. I had been following a course on how to showcase the best aspects of your book to your readers, and didn’t realize how sleazy it looked until I released the book.
I feel like this put a number of developers on the fence about buying the book, developers that might have really benefited from it. I switched over to a classier sales page that I felt more comfortable with, but unfortunately the damage had already been done.

Q: Last one, what’s in store for you and Freelance Flash Games in the future?

Personally, I’ve got a couple big plans ahead of me. College is the main one. I’m definitely looking forward to that. But there’s also a few business related ideas running around in the back of my head too; we’ll see if they end up materializing or not.
Regarding Freelance Flash Games, I’m looking to keep publishing helpful articles for developers. The book has really increased the visibility of my site, and I’m hoping I can use that to help more developers. I don’t want to reveal too much in case something falls through, but cooperation with some industry notables isn’t out of the question.

I'd like to thank Ryan for such a great interview, and now it's time for the really important bit. "Getting your Flash game sponsored" is available to buy at this link. If you're new to the whole world of sponsorship, either as a new and up coming developer or a jaded agency dev who needs that sweet sweet taste of indie, I can really recommend it. It'll give you a huge head start, and that can never be a bad thing.


Comments (5) -

  • tomsamson

    1/21/2011 6:25:15 PM |

    I don´t want to diminish the effort but the best advice regarding sponsorship would be that the developer should first evaluate if there aren´t way better ways to make money with his games.

    The sponsorship business has essentially ruined the web games business for flash games and with it extending over to mobiles it is doing best efforts to aso further dump prices and destroy the market for everyone there.

  • tomsamson

    1/21/2011 6:27:12 PM |

    also not aso, add an edit button, Squize =D

  • Ryan

    1/21/2011 10:09:44 PM |

    Thanks for reading Tom :) I agree; there is certainly more than one way to monetize a flash game (I actually go into some of the different ways in my book, albeit, briefly).

    I think sponsorships have done good and bad things for flash games. Early on, sponsorships were a way for games to get exposure. If you get sponsored by one of the big name portals, you know that they're going to get your game out to the masses. You could argue that sponsorships are starting to play less of a role in that aspect of games now that games are spreading more virally, but the portals (and sponsorships) are still an integral part of many game developer's revenue stream.

    It's a mutual relationship. The developer get's paid for his work, and the portal receives traffic from that payment. I'm just trying to help developers get paid more for that traffic they're sending ;)

  • tomsamson

    1/22/2011 3:56:31 PM |

    Hello Ryan, nice you also go into some of the other ways in your book.

    I think sponsorships have mostly done bad things for the flash web game scene and in a way for the game industry in general.

    Early on, sponsorships were a way for games to get exposure. If you get sponsored by one of the big name portals, you know that they're going to get your game out to the masses.

    Sorry, but that is not correct. One could get exposure and games on major portals long before the term (and usual rules) of sponsorship deals were coined.
    Before sponsorship deals existed one usually had other deals with portals: (timed) exclusive or non exclusive licensing were two often done types for example.
    Now one might think aren´t those similar to sponsorships?
    In a way yes of course, a third party gains some rights to be able to play back content and let its audience play it.
    But sponsorships are usually compared to those others paying the developer way less (usually a tenth of that at best) while in return usually understanding "sponsoring" as being able to have branding and cross links to the portal´s site in various places in the game and freely distributing the game over the net, essentially taking away any way for the developer to make propper money with the same game again other than if he has micro transactions in the game.

    Squize surely remembers, we had talks back then on Flashkit and elsewhere where the more seasoned ones like Squize and me despised some portals trying to coin the term sponsorship (for something that is essentially grabbing most distribution rights worldwide for content while paying way lower fees to the developer than were standard before).

    But since a large part of the flash games pool is made by younger ones in their spare time who actually don´t have to pay all their living costs and also have fewer experience in the business world hence not knowing that some deals are shady and paying way too low to ever become something like a fulltime job, and also hence for a while there was a hype going on of people thinking they could actually earn proper money with ingame advertising in flash games, with actual single games (not being a game portal with thousands of em),
    and also due to things like FGL pushing such manners,
    well, sponsorships could quickly take over large parts of the flash web gaming scene to the degree of now only very few portals existing who actually pay the developer a propper fee and in return not asking for most of the distribution rights to the game instead of doing the common "sponsorships".

  • Squize

    1/25/2011 4:08:21 PM |

    I do love it when a debate kicks off here.

    Tom and I remember the early days of sponsorship, where it was just a cheap ass way to get a licensed game. One of the portals ( Which is huge now ) used to do comps where the first prize would be say a PS3, and they'd get something like 50 entries, 48 of them shit, but a couple of gems, all branded and linking back to their site for the cost of a console.

    Also there's the tricky jump from freelancer to indie. When you first start, and you get a $500 offer, you're like 'What ? I earn that a day ffs! If I was doing this for a client I'd be looking at $5k, and you're offering me $500?". That's a very tricky thing to get past, and stops a lot more really talented people becoming full time indies.

    In saying that Tom, the sponsorship market has matured a lot. As the portals have started earning good money, so have the [Good] developers. That portal I touched on above now does pay good money, and more importantly they're not dicks about things. I'm not going to talk actual figures, but Ionic went for more than a couple of adver-games I did last year, and having complete creative freedom is worth so much ( It's the reason I left preloaded ).
    Yeah, in many respects a lot of games are still undervalued, but you have to weigh that up against no amends, no client forcing game breaking changes on you at the last minute, and being able to work all day in your underwear :)

    Right, time to copy this before I fuck the captcha up and lose it all.

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