This is why portals sell more than you do!

11 10 2010

2008 wasn’t a good year. This was the year of recession. The year of price drop to $6.99 on portals. The year when portals started war for and against exclusives.

GabCab GabCab ski lift GabCab awards

A lot of things happened I couldn’t keep up. In the middle of 2008 I started development of GabCab with Reflexive and Russell Carroll. This game took a lot of my time and I said to myself that I will focus on it and don’t blog or improve my website until it’s done. I’ve learned a lot during development of GabCab and I don’t regret it, but meanwhile, while world moved forward, my site moved backward. Now, once GabCab is done, I have a time to think about what happened and you can read few of my thoughts below.

There are few things that make portals preferred source for games instead of developers site. Let’s call them Unique Selling Points (USP) and let’s take a look at Big Fish Games (biggest portal at the moment).

* A New Game Every Day –  365+ a year. Yes, BFG releases more than a game a day, sometimes even 3 games a day.
* Online games – and that’s right, a new game every day too.
* Exclusives – and BFG provides a lot of exclusive games for 7 days or more.
* Daily Deals – Every day new deal, for just one day, for as low as $2.99.
* Forums – where you can chat not only about the games.
* Catch of the Week – similar to Daily Deal, but a game is available for full week.
* Tomorrow’s Game Today (TGT)- available only to Game Club members.
* GameClub itself (if you sign up you get TGT and games for $6.99 instead of $9.99)
* Very good support (and Live Chat for Game Club members)
* Top 100 charts
* 1 minute movies for each game
* Game manager
* Over 1000 games in catalog

Did you count? That’s 13 unique selling points! How many of those do you have on your site? Do you even release your own game exclusively on your own site for a week? Do you have at least 1?

What do you have that BFG doesn’t have? Walk through? Think again. More screen shots for your game? Longer text description?

Other portals may not have the same USP (their unique for a reason) or have some of those points but with a different name (that’s called marketing and trying to make it unique). GameHouse has all you can eat subscriptions, iWin has Steals & Deals and Cash Games.

And that’s not all. BFG sends newsletters two times a week. Do you send it at least once a month? Portals also do a lot of marketing. When you have so many USP you can invest a lot more into Pay Per Click ads (or any other ads). They don’t have to recoup that investment from the sale of a single game, they can and do repeat business.

Now you know (if you haven’t already) why some portals sell tons of games and why you don’t. But seriously, did you really expect to do as much as 300 men army of portal employees? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against portals selling so much, I’m just trying to find out how we can sell more.

Is there something we can do to fix this situation? To sell more without hurting relationship with portals? I really hope so.



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6 responses to “This is why portals sell more than you do!”

11 10 2010
Kenneth (15:59:43) :

Of the great ways to sell more from your site is to create a super addictive unique game that people can’t find in casual portal. (ie: Kudos, minecraft ). yeah:) I know it’s easier said than done :)

11 10 2010
Maciek (16:00:28) :

This sounds really pessimistic. Everything would be fine if the portals would have the muscle to sell more copies of your game and earn more for a particular developer, but they don’t and we’re seeing serious drops in revenue. Here are some things that we at Codeminion try to do to stay competitive:

* Exclusive soft-launches (when we launch games, we always offer them exclusively for some time before we go to portals. Unfortunately many players will rather wait for the game as they prefer to purchase games with their portal membership programs)
* Provide better support than portals (this should actually be pretty easy and straightforward. Portals can’t fix your game if it’s broken and they can’t react very quickly to your problem).
* Offer exclusive content for your games (we offer expansion packs for Saqqarah, wallpapers, game music downloads, etc.)
* Ask our players what they want to see in future games (like the “Help us design Brunhilda Sequel” contest)
* Run our own beta program, where players can get full version games before they are released.

But doing all of this is still not enough, so if anyone knows any more such things, please share them :)

11 10 2010
Roman Budzowski (17:06:17) :

Very good points Maciek!

Kenneth, I know that going niche is one way to do it, but what if you’re not interested in this way?

11 10 2010
Grey Alien Games » Blog Archive » Making your site different from Portals (18:58:24) :

[...] over at Anawiki games just made a blog post called: This is why portals sell more than you do. It includes a large list of USPs that the portals [...]

13 10 2010
Pallav Nawani (11:45:29) :

We have to realise that casual games market has been cornered by the portals. Majority of the regular game buyers are with BFG, rest with other portals.

The trick to make more money is to make MARKETABLE hardcore games!

Some of us have years of experience making casual games and our game quality has risen to the point where we can create high quality games. For those people it makes sense to leave the overpopulated small pond ( of casual games) and move to the bigger pond. Sure there is risk, but if want to make more than $2.3 per game (that’s developer’s share on average) then we need to make games that will sell for more.

11 05 2011
TC (19:38:54) :

Maciek, didn’t Phantasmat do extremely well for you?