Where exactly is the Cash for Flash ? 10. February 2009 Squize General (14) An awful lot of our blog posts are questions recently, we need to change that.Anyway, where exactly is the Cash for Flash ? There's a very in-depth article on the always excellent gamasutra about Flash gaming and the money it can make ( Where's The Cash For Flash ) to which I see quite a few blogs have linked to already.As a developer you're constantly aware that Flash games are seen as a very disposable medium. They're free and there are thousands of them, a lot of portals have no concept at all about copyright because swfs are just so ubiquitous now, they're moving jpgs aren't they.If you're a fellow dev. reading this, I'm sure more than once in your life you've had to actually try and explain the value of a Flash game to a client, that good work takes time and money, that just because there is already a lot of content out there it doesn't mean it's all of the same quality. Basically, that Flash isn't actually disposable, that very cool things can be done with it.If that's the case, if there's this near constant battle to validate Flash and Flash games worth ( To the point that if someone from EA quotes Flash as a valid gaming platform our hearts go all a flutter ), why the fuck do so many developers shout from the rooftops what they earn ?I don't want the tax man knowing what I earn, never mind a 100,000 strangers. What's that all about ? If it's a full time job, a living, keep it to yourself. If it's a hobby with benefits, then it's just re-enforcing the whole Flash games are just a disposable something to do on the weekend and earn "$20k" from it view.By now I'm guessing you've figured I'm not a 100% pro this article.I suppose I should caveat things now to avoid a ton of hatred coming my way. I'm a big fan of what Adam and Chris have done at FGL ( I remember chatting to Adam only last year I guess and him saying "I've got this crazy idea that I want to try out" ), and all the game authors quoted in the article, in terms of their work, excellent.If that's the case, what's the point of me writing this ? Am I just writing venom for the sake of writing it ? Am I bitter 'cause I'm not had my $40k indy hit yet ? Or is it because every article about Flash and it's commercialisation paints an even rosier and skewed picture than the one before it ?Figures, let's stick with them, as everyone is so keen on them ( Me too if the truth be known ).In the article there's mention that 25% of all games on FGL are sold. That still leaves 1,500 games unsold. That's a lot. I imagine not all of those are real stinkers.Also the average deal brokered is quoted at $1000, but I'm guessing any >$10k deals skew that figure a hell of a lot.( Again, this isn't a criticism of FGL, just note that spin is put on figures, everyone does it. I'm trying to highlight that when it comes to Flash and money you really need to read between the lines, I'm not digging anyone out for putting a favourable spin on their own business )."At a minimum, developers selling their first game ever -- if it falls into the 'good-to-great' category -- make about $500-and-up"$500 is piss all really, unless you're 14, then you'd kill people for that sort of money. $500 really just makes it a disposable something to do on the weekend. But we all start somewhere, my first game was sold to miniclip for £350 ( There, now I'm spewing my guts on how much I earn, it's an addictive trap ).Next up in the article is the Dino Run guys. $40k for that game, plus still more coming in. Great, really well deserved, Dino Run is one of the best games in Flash and deserves everything it gets.Although that is 7 months development, between two people, so that's $20k per person. Still nice, $20k for 7 months, that's just under $3k a month. But... Dino Run is one of the best games in Flash right now. Have you got 7 months to develop a game as good ? I know I haven't and I wouldn't presume I'd even have the ability to make a game as good.See these well done stories in the article are the pinnicale of where the indy market is, not the average, not the norm.The article then goes on to say on the strength of Dino Run the PixelJam guys have got a couple of adver-game gigs that nearly earned as much as Dino Run in a much shorter space of time.That's key. That the indy market is so far behind the industry as a whole in terms of finance that the best outcome is that you get some client based work out of it with the money that brings in. That's where the living wage with Flash is, not with mochi-ads I'm afraid.Finally in the article they speak with Sean T. Cooper who coded the excellent Box Head series. He is very honest, and explains that you have to build up a fan base for your IP, that to get the really good money you need that fan base there, people who are just panting for the next installment. Sponsors know that, they have a very good idea of what a sequel as part of a popular franchise will bring in in terms of traffic, and will pay for that.Keep in mind that Sean said he sold the first one for $1500. 4 games later and he's getting good money, he's in a great position, but that's at least a couple of games first that you have to sell for not a great amount of money ( If you're making games to the standard of the Box Head ones you're looking at a min. of 4 weeks, and this is if you do all the art and sound yourself. 4 weeks at 40 hours per week, that's 160 hours, which at $1500 is $9.38 per hour [ Thanks to Bryson for point out my really poor maths first time around, corrected now ]. That's best case scenerio. It really is a big investment of your own time to make it successful, don't expect to be paid well for that time. In effect your gambling on the strength of your vision if you're doing this for the money. If you're doing it for the love of the art, well, you can do whatever the hell you want and just enjoy it )."Which means that one person can -- with a lot of hard work, meaning every day of the year -- expect to bring in close to $400,000 a year, I think."This is the core of why I've written this article. I don't want to pick a quote apart from one person, but come on mate, $400k ? I'll be happy doing half then, 5 games for $200,000.It's things like that, the come on everyone, get Flash, it's like getting paid for having a laugh, then just rubs me up the wrong way ( Obviously ). It doesn't do anyone any favours.Ask yourself this, if that sort of money is possible, is Sean or anyone else, earning it via indy games ? If I said to you, work hard for a year, and you'll earn nearly half a million dollars, you'd bite my arm off to do it, like I would yours.Be realistic in what you think you'll earn, don't get your head turned by the Bloons or DTDs. They're great games, but there are other great games which have fallen by the wayside. Do it for the sheer joy of making something cool out of that untitled.fla, and if you make a couple of quid, then sweet, better in your pocket than anyone elses, but please don't fall into the Flash trap of timelines paved with gold.With a lot of effort and maybe a bit of luck you'll get the $40k game, and then by all means post in the comments and let me know you wear a crown when you code now and I'll be gladly put in my place, and keep that as an objective ( The money, maybe the crown wearing, not the rubbing my nose in it ) but take all the quotes with a slight pinch of salt.Squize.