A lot of you seem to be quite interested in the robot game I am developing, so here’s an update on how thing’s have been progressing.
First, I’ll reveal a bit more about the actual game. The game is called RobotWarz, located at RobotWarz.com, and is an online multiplayer flash-based game where players can quickly sign-up for a free account. They they build their own custom robot, which has many customizable options, and then proceed to fight other robots in an arena-style environment.
Only a couple of weeks in, we’re obviously still only in the very early development stage, but currently have a good underlying programming core developed. Basically, the main fighting engine has its framework laid out and now work is starting to focus on other elements of the site such as the user registration, control panel, etc. The graphics will be amongst the last things that get developed.
While the game is currently playable at an extremely basic level, it’s constantly being modified and improved so it’s still in early alpha stages. We hope to offer a public playable beta version sometime in December, possibly a private beta version before then.
Initial Site Up
I put up a basic splash page at RobotWarz.com in order to start building up a mailing list and to provide any news and updates for those interested. I created a Twitter account (@robotwarz), an AWeber mailing list, and put up a forum.
The splash page was just made by me so it’s not a hint of what the actual site or in-game graphics will look like, but I’m actually pretty proud of how decent I made the temporary textual logo look!
It will most likely be very difficult to gain an early following to the game before it’s released since I have no prior games to leverage any traffic from. We will probably just have to wait until the game is released before word starts to spread.
RobotWarz will be free to everyone, with the option of upgrading your account to a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum account on a monthly subscription basis. The price ranges for the paid accounts will be approximately $2, $5, $10, and $25 respectively.
There is a great blog post written by Colm Larkin in which he compares how much money flash game developers can make by offering the game for free with the upsell of purchasing the entire game or upgrading the account in some way, to simply slapping ads in-and-or-around the flash game.
“Luckily there’s a better way to fund game development than scrounging for ad-pennies. It’s been proven in almost every form of consumer entertainment ever made, from theatre to music to cinema and yes, even games: ask the consumer of the entertainment to pay you for providing it. That’s it. Asking the players to fund game development takes away the dilution effect of trying to get ads to pay everyone’s cut, and directly rewards the developer regardless of the size of their ‘aggregated traffic-power’. It works for all those other kinds of entertainment, and it certainly works for the rest of the gaming industry.
And it can work for flash games too. Several developers have been successfully charging players for full versions of their free flash games, by integrating a payment processor such as PayPal. This method (often called a “demo”, write that down) is so proven that almost no console or PC game doesn’t use it.
Others have tried splitting out the purchase into smaller bundles using a microtransaction/virtual currency provider, and are charging for decorative things like a fancy hat or small upgrades like level packs and new weapons instead of selling the whole game in one go. In fact recently launched providers such as MochiCoins, GamerSafe and Heyzap have made it easier than ever for flash developers to take payments from players.
One advantage of the idea of using virtual items, temporary powerups, or other small purchases is that you aren’t putting a cap on how much your biggest fans are able to spend on your game. Generally speaking selling virtual items works best in a persistant-world / MMO style of game, where you can put all kinds of social and economic effects into play to really leverage the idea…”
He provides a number of examples. I will post just two of each method below:
Flash Games Supported by Ads:
Desktop Tower Defense
One of the original ‘break out hits’ of modern free flash games, created by a single developer, and supported by ads inside & around the game:
Total Plays: 15 million in the first few months
Gross Revenue: ~$12,000 in that same time frame
Gross eCPM: ~$0.80
A fairly typical successful flash game, though not a massive hit in terms of plays:
Total Plays: 3.7 million plays to date
Gross Revenue: ~$8,200 to date
Gross eCPM: ~$2.22
Flash Games Supported by Sales/Memberships:
A free-to-play flash game, hosted on it’s own site plus some portals, with a premium unlock for $10 that let you make your own levels and play other people’s custom levels. Included solution-sharing via unique URL that helped it spread virally:
Total Plays: Over 3.5M unique users in the first 3 or so months
Gross Revenue: For every unique site visitor, he converts 0.5% to a paid version [at $10] = ~$175,000
Gross eCPM: ~$50.00
A free-to-play flash game hosted on various portals that had an upsell to a downloadable for-sale version (at ~$15):
Total Plays: 4.2M – 6.2M plays (some portals made it impossible to track this, hence the range) over the last year
Gross Revenue: 10,500 sales so far x $15 = ~$155,000
Gross eCPM: ~$25.00-36.90, depending on above
Early Signs Show Positive
In the Fantastic Contraption example above, it shows the game converting to sales at 0.5%. I had a friend create a poll on a flash game related-site which has an audience which will also be RobotWarz’s target audience, asking them if they would purchase a monthly subscription to RobotWarz, without giving them any details of the game, just that it’d be better than the game they’re currently playing.
So far, 13% of them said that they would purchase a monthly subscription and 8.7% said maybe. That is a lot higher than I was expecting, as I would have been quite happy with 5%.
Now, this is of course only a poll and there were around 30 votes so it’s not the most accurate thing in the world, but it does help to give a rough idea of what can be expected.
I am quite confident that the game will take off and be pretty popular, so the fact that 13% have said that they would purchase a monthly subscription is very encouraging.
Porting to Facebook and iPhone
If the online version of RobotWarz proves to be popular, I will be porting the game to Facebook and the iPhone. This type of game should work very well on both platforms.
More to Come Soon
I will try to give you guys more details on the game as things progress. I’ll try to give another update in a couple weeks – by then I may even be able to show you some early screenshots of the game.