Saturday, 1 August 2009

Are you stealing from free games?

There's been a lot of discussion about ad blockers going round recently, mostly about the lost income for flash/browser game developers because of it. The argument goes that if half of their user base starts using ad-blockers, does that mean half of their profits go with it?

It's a tough call, but I think it unlikely. In my experience so far most advertisements work on a per-click basis rather than a per-view one. Anyone who is likely to install an ad blocker is not likely click on an advert anyway. Therefore I would guess it makes far less difference than people think.

However, let's assume that it's all done on a per-view (or "impression" if I'm going to use the right terminology I suppose) basis and things start to look a little bleaker for these developers.

So, is it wrong for a user to block adverts on websites and just go ahead and play the games? It's very much a grey area as you're not helping the developer much if you block the ads. On the other hand, there's such a thing as "too many" adverts, which for me is more than 2 banner adverts and anything that "pops up". It would make me run a mile from any site!

I would offer a word of warning to those thinking of blocking google/mochi/yahoo ads in the future however. If everyone starts to do this, we'll probably end up with far less flash games to play and also *gulp* in-game-adverts may start appearing! If you're an Xbox-360 owner (gah) and have fight-night 4 (ugh) you may have noticed the latest update incorporates a multitude of "Ford" adverts everywhere. Do we want this to happen to Nitrome games too? (Nitrome is just an example, I have no idea if they are planning to do this or not - probably not!)

For me one solution is to start advertising things that gamers don't mind seeing adverts of - which for me would be games!

Games advertised on gaming sites? What a notion!

The big advertising systems like google-ads have been exploited to the point where it becomes useless for smaller games and gaming hardware companies to advertise using them and to get decent results. Therefore I think it's time the community came up with far better ways to advertise, but what that will turn out to be I'm not sure! Some flash gaming sites have their own ad system, which makes it much harder to block and is probably far more effective than google or mochi ads can ever be!

All of these discussions are happening at an important time for me as, with the tremendous surge of visitors to the site lately, I've been considering my advertising issues with google-ads.

In a nutshell I'm not too happy with them. It's not that they're unsuccessful, they've earned me a tiny amount over the last month that I've been using them, but they're likely to earn much more as time goes by. However most of these ads are not gamer-friendly and I know some people will leave as soon as they see them.

Therefore I've been planning my own advertising system for a little while which will be geared towards helping independent developers reach more users. It probably won't happen for at least another month and I'll be offering free trials to start off with. I'm going to try and get some views from the developer community soon to see if there would be enough interest.

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