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Marketing influences game revenue three times more than high scores

Research by EEDAR has shown that a high marketing spend increases gross revenue three times more than high review scores.

The perception that high scores are crucial to sales is a myth, said EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich speaking at the Montreal International Games Summit, and developers should realise the cold fact that a poor quality game shipped with a big marketing spend will sell much better than a great game with little financial support behind it.

You can make the greatest game and it won’t even matter. I know that’s discouraging to developers at first but it’s very true.

Looking at all games released between 2007 and the end of 2008, and comparing as many different configurations as possible – single format exclusives, handheld releases, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii only – the research came to the same conclusion; marketing is more important than game quality.

You can read the entire speech at gamesindustry.biz but what I would like to know is: do this apply to Flash games too?

First, let me say “marketing” is something different than just sending some emails to portal owners or submitting the game everywhere… it means using cash to make people know about your game.

I’ll talk later about cash, now I’ll focus on submitting the game everywhere… all in all submission takes time, so you are going to spend time to submit your game or to pay cash to someone willing to spend his time to submit your game everywhere.

Christmas Couples really sucks, but I submitted it everywhere, and was one of the first games to include the MindJolt API. With its 17,596,730 views it was an incredible success.

BallBalance was released a couple of months later, was featured on NewGrounds so I let the viral distribution do the bulk work for me… it got “only” 6,198,007 views, than it’s about 1/3 of Christmas Couples views.

Let’s suppose both games have the same ECPM, we can say marketing made me earn three times more than quality.

But in Flash games there is an income source that does not exists in PC/Console games, excluding some minor cases… sponsorships.

BallBalance was sponsored by Kongregate and AddictingGames and that’s where quality won over marketing.

Surely quality AND marketing would perform even better, but the entire point of this post is focused on spending less resources on quality and more on marketing.

Pay to be featured

Now, let’s talk about cash. Normally Flash game developers don’t pay to have their games featured. So the question is:

Would you pay to get featured on NewGrounds? I would.

Would you pay to get reviewed on JayIsGames? I would.

And the list could be much longer… obviously NG and JIG won’t feature lame jigsaw games because they would lose credibility, but let’s say I made a good game, and I would try to “help” it by “suggesting” some important sites to feature it… I really would.

And if you think this is not the right kind to make marketing… never mind… I would buy a review (or a featured spot) on important portals even if something says it was a paid submission, as long as the game is listed among other “free” games.

Do you?

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This post has 7 comments

  1. Maurycy Zarzycki

    on November 20, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Well it can sound really discouraging. I _ALWAYS_ put quality far faaaar higher than marketing (Ok, let’s be honest, popularity discourages me from playing/listening/watching/doing something because over half of the time it turns out it is just crap in pretty wrap) and you present me such a stinking egg…
    On the other hand, real high quality can spawn its own marketing pretty well. If you made game good enough to enter Newgrounds’ Top 50, you would be featured on front page, you would get on some other big portals “spotlight” places and you could easily grab millions of views, the same goes for game sponsored by well-known portal. Let me take a peek at my own statistics…

    (Squario, a mario-gameplay clone) With CPMStar, a sponsored game, gave me 1.4 million of views. Add to it revenue from selling (around 10?)site locked versions (and I sell on average one to two per month) and cash from sponsorship and I can consider the value to be acceptable.

    (Galagian, vertical wave-based space shooter) On the other hand, my second game which never was sponsored has been viewed, according to MochiAds, barely 55k times. It’s not even close to satisfying, yet I got some cash from selling a good couple of site-locked versions (7-8).

    One important thing I noticed! I’ve been using Flash Game Distribution for some time, but recently I manually submitted that second game to around two dozens of sites and in last couple of days I noticed an increase from 100 to over 400 views per day. If your internet connection is faster than mine (18KB/s upload speed) Manual Submission is a way to get your stats higher, and I am surely going to distribute my next project this way (but somewhere where the internet speed is better).

    Anyway, the point I was going to, before I forget. I don’t think any of these two games are either of high quality and none was marketed. What made Squario ~23 times popular though is the very simple fact that Squario is a “Mario Clone” and Galagian is “Galaga Clone”. No matter how you look at it, Mario is much more popular. On Google Mario gets 55.6 Million hits monthly and Galaga barely 0.2 Million, so the difference is terrifying. Squario just “rode” on Mario’s popularity to get to fame.
    So, the big point being – Not only the quality and marketing matter, sometimes you can do some “meta-marketing” (can’t find a better name) by using a game title/characters/gameplay/whatever similar/identical/relating to something already existing and popular. This is a major strategy in what I call spam games these days – games which have Mario (or other popular character) in title, the players is Mario but the game has as much common with Mario as punch with face and their only objective is to make people install toolbars. But that’s discussion for some other day, I already spammed your comment box too much :).

  2. Antriel

    on November 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    You really can’t expect viral distribution to be enough. Flash games are free and must stay free (can have exclusive content thought). Therefore there will never be enough developers to pay for such a service, to create a system, that could work.
    Quality is far more important. The primary thing that makes bad games spread so much is art. Players subconsciously go to play game with good art, even when it’s not a good game actually.

    Still, it is true that if more people see the game, more will play. But I see future in social sites like facebook, not in being featured on some sites for money.

  3. Guest

    on November 21, 2009 at 6:40 am

    I think the game “BLOONS” is very famous not because its the best of the best, … is famous because it has the support of Mochimedia… it’s always featured in the main page and is sent to all game portals thru mochigames… if your game has a good marketing support, it will succeed

  4. Ruslan

    on November 23, 2009 at 12:45 am

    I think Game quality is more important . I saw many games with normal programming , but most of them have bad design and effects . Effects would make games more playable (I mean video effects).

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  6. Nob

    on November 25, 2009 at 2:55 am

    btw I love ur site. When do you publish your book on AS games?

  7. Mark

    on December 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Would I pay to get featured on NewGrounds? I would. Would they let me? Probably not.

    Say I had £100 to spend on marketing a game – what I’m interested in finding out is how I can spend this and ensure that I will get over £100 back as a result (in addition to what the game would have earned anyway).

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