Max Did It
Miscellaneous
,Mon
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Satellite Numbers and Statistics

Satellite has been released for 6 days now, and it’s safe to say that it’s lifecycle is pretty much over.

The game had peaked at 80 to 90 visits per hour and is now down to 5 to 10. The game hasn’t been featured on the first page of Newgrounds “Latest” games category anymore for a couple of days now, so I don’t expect the numbers to go up significantly.

Old Graph

©2009-2012 ~SPikEtheSWeDe

I do consider Satellite to be a success. It is the first of my very own projects that I went through with from start to finish and actually published.

The overall number of times the game has been played may appear relatively insignificant compared to successful browser MMOs or long running games on Newgrounds. Also, I am far away from actually being able to pay my bills with my games.

I do have enough data to draw some conclusions for future games, though. I wanted to find out how much money in-game advertisement can make and I can now say that it is unlikely that I will be able to live off of ad revenues alone.

All the numbers I present in this post are taken from the time I write this. If you go look at the statistics on Newgrounds and Kongregate right now, the number of plays they display will be higher, of course.

Where Was Satellite Hosted?

I have uploaded Satellite to my own web site, to Newgrounds and to Kongregate.

How Well Has Satellite Been Received?

Both Newgrounds and Kongregate have a rating system where people can give a game points depending on how much they liked it. This rating is pretty significant, since it determines for how long the game will be visible to visitors of the respective sites.

Games with high ratings will appear higher in the respective daily or weekly lists of submitted games and have more players.

On Newgrounds

NewgroundsOn Newgrounds, Satellite currently holds a rating of 3.21 out of 5 stars, which is respectable, especially for a first submission. This was more than enough to pass the “Under Judgement” phase and appear in the “Latest” category of Newgrounds.

It was not enough to appear on the first pages of the “Popular” section, though.

During the “Under Judgement” phase, the rating dropped below 3 stars for a short while, mostly because an error in the implementation of the MochiAPI caused ads to be shown before every single level, although they only were supposed to be shown occasionally.

I fixed this and updated the game. Satellite then came out of the “Under Judgement” phase with more than 3 stars, climbing to the 3.21 rating over time.

On Kongregate

KongregateOn Kongregate, Satellite holds a rating of 2.59 out of 5 stars, which I find a little disappointing. Even more if you consider that the Kongregate version of the game has no in-game advertisement whatsoever.

Kongregate’s terms state that no game that is uploaded to their site can have in-game advertisement. Instead, developers receive a share of the ad revenue Kongregate generates from people visiting the game’s page.

I’m not sure why Satellite fared better on Newgrounds than Kongregate. Maybe the community on Newgrounds is generally a little more benevolent, maybe I was just unlucky with the people who came across my game first on Kongregate.

Satellite has significantly fewer plays on Kongregate than on Newgrounds, which I blame on the rating and on the design of the site, which made the game less visible.

When the game came out of the “Under Judgement” phase, I myself had a little trouble to find it on the page without looking into my own developer profile. On Newgrounds on the other hand, even games with an average rating get their one or two days in the spotlight.

How Often Have People Played Satellite?

I have found that when it comes to the number of times Satellite has been played, I have conflicting numbers. The views on Newgrounds and Kongregate alone add up to 1,653 times the game has been clicked. That number doesn’t include the times the game has been started on my own web site.

However, according to my own statistics, Satellite has been played 1,619 times so far for all locations, including Max Did It.

My guess is that the number Newgrounds is giving out is deceptively high. If you click on a game on Newgrounds that is still in the “Under Judgement” phase, the game itself doesn’t start right away. Instead, a disclaimer is shown, urging you to vote and give feedback fairly. However, the view on the game’s Newgrounds page is already counted.

My statistics only count the number of times the game actually has been started, though.

For this chart, I rely on the numbers from Kongregate and from my webhost for my blog to be accurate and calculate the actual views from Newgrounds accordingly.

The results are:

Location Views
Newgrounds 1092
Kongregate 322
Max Did It 205

This would mean that about 240 times the “Under Judgement” screen was clicked away before the game could load. I’m not entirely sure whether that is making sense and I will try to track these numbers a little more accurately the next time around.

Comparisions

I looked at some of the games that have been submitted around the same time as Satellite.

Peter Bell Saves ChristmasOne of them is Peter Bell Saves Christmas, a beat-em-up game which features hand-drawn animation and voice acting. This game currently holds a straight 4.00 rating on Newgrounds which is enough to be shown in the “Popular” section of the portal. Also, it seems to have caught the eyes of Newground’s moderators since it appeared in the “Featured” section, which makes it even more visible to visitors.

This netted the game over 22,000 views in the six days after release.

I guess that the more accessible nature of the game, the high production value and the whimsical story got rewarded with the higher rating and being featured. It should be interesting to see how the statistics for this game develop over time. Has it already peaked as well or can it gather clicks for a longer time than I could?

Play TripleAnother game would be Play Triple. This game made me doubt my general approach for a moment.

The game is very simple, I would guess that it took one afternoon to program it, compared to the several weeks it took me to create Satellite. There is only one screen, only one, randomly generated “level” and the game mechanics don’t vary in any way. Also, the creator admits that he more or less recycled an existing game mechanic.

And yet, with 3.06 stars the rating of this game is only a little lower than mine. Maybe going for quantity instead of quality pays off more in the long run? Cranking out several mini-games a week might net me more views in the end than making one game a month?

What does ease my mind a little bit is that Satellite has received about 3 times the views Play Three has on Newgrounds alone. But it does put the effort you put into a game and the returns you can expect into perspective.

Ad Revenue

So far, approx. 844 ad impressions were registered by Mochi Media, maybe a couple more, since the ad statistics are updated later than my game statistics.

Of the 1619 hits my game has received, you have to subtract the 322 hits from Kongregate, since that version doesn’t show any in-game ads at all, leaving you with 1297 hits that potentially have generated ad revenue directly.

How Many People Even Made it Far Enough to See an Ad?

An analysis of the visitor flow in the UI of Satellite shows that 3.5% of the people who have clicked the game leave while the Max Did It logo is showing. Probably because they hate gears.

Another 7% of the original count drop off in the start screen. Another 3% don’t make it further than the level select screen.

I don’t know how much I should read into these numbers. I could imagine some of the players left because the menus didn’t look that spectacular and they didn’t expect anything from the game either. However, I consciously decided not to invest more time into the menus, at least for this game. So, I wouldn’t be surprised by that.

How Effective Are Ads Actually?

So, approx. 14% of people don’t make it to the point where the loading screen is coming up for the first time. This leaves around 1,100 times people should have seen an ad at least once. However, I actually only have 844 ad impressions.

That means that on average, only 75% of these times actually resulted in an ad being shown. Even though, ideally, one visit should yield even more than one ad being shown to the player.

My explantion for the missing 25% would be:

  • Ad blocking software, of course.
  • I could imagine that Mochi Media doesn’t provide ads for all the countries the game has been played in.

This, too, is something I want to try and track more accurately in my next game. Don’t worry, I cannot track whether you have ad blocking software installed, but I can check how often the ad request to Mochi Media fails and look at that.

How Much Money Did The Ads Yield?

Well, 844 ad impressions net you a glorious…

0.81$, or 0.62€.

Dividing the ad impressions by a factor of about 1400 will seemingly get you your actual earnings in euros.

How Many Peoply Need to Play my Games so I Can Pay the Rent?

Let’s assume these numbers are accurate and at least somewhat representative.

If I wanted to live off of ad revenue alone, then I would need over 2,000,000 ad impressions per month to pay the rent, the bills and buy food.

Only 75% of times an ad should be displayed seem to actually result in an ad impression. Now we are approaching 2,700,000 visits to my games I need to generate to make up for the people with ad blocking software or other reasons why they don’t see an advertisement.

Is That Even Remotely Possible?

Let’s put it this way: One of the most popular games on Newgrounds ever, a game that is in the all-time top 10, Toss the Turtle, has racked up 6,772,235 views, on Newgrounds alone.

But, it did this over the course of over 3 years, being released in August, 2009.

With my numbers, that would mean that the developers made an average of 90€ off their game from ad revenues from Newgrounds. The actual number will be a couple of times higher, since it is hosted on several sites, but I don’t think it is in the four digit ballpark.

Also, Toss the Turtle as a game performed exceptionally well. Even if I hope to be able to produce a hit like this, I can’t expect it to happen.

Conclusions

There are several take aways for me from this project:

  • My games aren’t bad, but need to get better. They need to be more accessible and appealing. This should get me better ratings and more views.
  • I need to produce games more effectively. Producing a lot of content for a game that might fair only average with audiences is a high risk. I will try to find more “effective” concepts that don’t need a lot of content or release “basic” versions of games which I expand if they prove to be popular.
  • Try to produces several games that are popular in the long run. Sure, games that are not updated on a regular basis will peak once and then have quickly degrading numbers of visits. But, a small number of plays per day will remain for a longer period of time. If I can build a portfolio of several games that bring in at least some ad revenue continually, I might be able to generate a more significant amount of money over time.
  • Ad revenues probably can only be part of my income. Even if I’m able to produce popular games on a regular basis, the numbers of views I would need to actually live off of ad revenues alone seem to be unrealistically high. So I need to find additional sources of income that my games can generate.

I will keep these things in mind when working on my next project.

Comments

2 Comments have been posted so far - Leave a Comment

braunbär
braunbär
,Mon

thx for the insights

Reply

Max Knoblich
Max Knoblich
,Mon

You're welcome!


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