Portals at War – should we start to worry?

30 06 2008

How to shoot yourself in the foot?! No, I’m not talking about us, developers. I’m talking about portals. It looks like we are going to face another war between the key players in the casual game market. And it starts to look like some portals want to become evil.

Market review

Exclusives at Big Fish GamesBig Fish Games is one of the biggest, if not the biggest casual game portal. It’s one of my favorite portals. It’s easy to navigate, delivers wide variety of games, is great to work with and very responsive. They’re not afraid to risk the launch of new genres or not so casual games. There’s just one problem with BFG – their game club which offers games at discounted price of as low as $6.99. But is it really a problem?

It looks like other players in the market starts to think so. What’s more, Big Fish Games is very successful at getting exclusive deals, mostly short-period. And that’s another thing that bothers other players. Some portals start to send threats to developers – if you give even short-time exclusive to BFG we won’t launch your game. You can read more about it at The good BIG bad FISH exclusive GAMES… in Maciek’s blog. Initially I was very upset about it. But let’s take a closer look at possible scenarios.

The end of exclusive deals?

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Is it worth localizing casual games?

26 06 2008

Runes of Avalon 2 in top 10Gaming industry is global. That’s why we create games in English. To maximize the chance that the person that plays your game will understand it. But just because people can undrestand what your game is “saying” doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prefer to play it in their’s native language.

If you haven’t already localized your games, then start doing it now. While we still get most of our sales from English speaking territories, it looks like German, French and Spanish speaking territories can earn you a few more bucks. The good thing is that Big Fish Games will help you translate your game into German, French, Spanish and Japan (for free, but it’s up to them to decide whether they’ll do it or not). Casual games are not text heavy so it shouldn’t be that hard to get your game translated.

Those markets are not soo crowded so it is much easier to stand out and get into the Top 100 or even Top 10 charts. Runes of Avalon 2 launched on June 9, 2008 on BigFishGames.de and made much bigger impact on the site than it had on global BFG website. Some say they like match-3 games in Germany, but my guess is that it is smaller market and new games due to the spike of sales during launch have it easier to get high positions. Runes of Avalon 2 got into Top 10 and reached position #9, while on BFG.com it has reached “just” #32.

Another good thing about European versions of your game is that those games are sold to game club members for 5.99 EUR which converts to a little bit more than 9 USD (instead of 6.99 USD) so actually you’re earning 30% more. Most probably you would not be able to get into those markets on your own (do you have a dedicated website for each language?) so it doesn’t hurt your own direct sales.

I don’t know yet how much you can earn on those language versions, but I am sure it’s less than you can earn on English version (global vs local market). Still, it’s worth getting those extra bucks.

Another good thing is that once you get translated version of your game it can be much easier for you to get a retail publisher for that market.

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Match-3 still alive?

20 06 2008

I was checking Runes of Avalon 2 performance on Big Fish Games yesterday (well, not good at all) and was very surprised by what I saw in the top-10 list.

First of all, I stopped checking the TOP 100 chart becausemy games are no longer there and I don’t think it’s going to change until I release Pony World Deluxe. I went straight to match-3 chart and saw a new game – FISHDOM on #1 place.

Well, #1 in match-3 genre is not something amazing, but breaking into TOP 10 is (#8 on June 19th). It’s even more amazing because FISHDOM is not BFG exclusive and because it was done within one day of launch of the game.

What is FISHDOM? It’s a classic match-3 game. It’s well polished and it has a little META game – you can build a tank and put in fishes. I would say it’s a straight Big Kahuna Reef rip off.

Which only proves that casual players don’t like too much innovation.

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