Paul Preece was a British game developer. That was, until he created Desktop Tower Defense. In two months, he developed a game that’s been played over 15 million times and brought in thousands in advertising. Paul Preece has since quit his day job and teamed up with David Litsky of FlashElementTD to run his own gaming startup.
Flash gaming site Kongregate is encouraging more people to do the same. They’ll be funding the development of five or more professional flash games and creating a set of APIs to help weekend developers more easily make multiplayer and monetize them through a micro payment system.
Kongregate is tying up a significant amount of their capital in some premium games, investing around $100,000 in each title. The cash is paid in installments as the games are developed. Kongregate hopes to make back some of the money through advertising and the traffic the games generate during their one year exclusivity agreement. They have some fairly well known developers lined up such as Chris Paisley, who created 5 minutes to kill yourself.
So far they’ve settled on five titles: Argue, Zening, Dinowaurs, Remnants of Skystone, and Lila Dreams. Each game is rather quirky. Lila Dreams, for instance, lets you play inside the head of an 11 year old girl and impact her real-world choices by affecting her emotions. Zening is the most elaborate, featuring team deathmatch multiplayer modes, two- and four-player combat, webcam support and a fully voiced narrative. All are set to release the first half of next year.
The games are meant to push forward the complexity of online flash games, of which most are programed during after work hours and many of which frankly aren’t that great. To improve flash games overall, Kongregate is developing a series of APIs that will make multiplayer and pay-per-play games easier to develop. According to Kongregate CEO Jim Greer, money from even the best flash games can top out at $10,000 from advertising, making game development a labor of love. A micro-payment system will give developers another way to monetize. With the system, players will be able to play the games for free, but also trade in pre-purchased tokens for upgrades. It’s similar to the paid upgrades currently available on sites like King.com or Cafe.com, except available to the average developer.
The payment platform also gives Kongregate another option to their advertising only business model, which relies on high traffic. At around a million uniques in October, Greer still sees a lot of room for growth toward the likes of Pogo.com or Miniclip, which he says get around 14 and 20 million uniques each month.