Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Get your money fast!
One reason that traditional “deep-pocket” publishers are still essential to the
retail games industry is that the cash outlay to produce boxed products is large,
and the time it takes to get a return back from retailers can be substantial. With
social games, the chain of people with a hand out between the developer and
the customer is shorter. Depending on the payment scheme used (most social
sites now have a required method), you can be paid weekly or even receive
daily direct deposits of your revenue. This quick return on investment can be
of critical importance, especially to a small developer who doesn't necessarily
have the financial cushion to wait a full calendar quarter or longer before the
revenue train pulls into the station.
You don't have to own your own servers
For a long time, running online games carried the additional expense of own-
ing and maintaining server farms. Paying for the electricity and cooling for
the warehouses full of server gear necessary for these types of games places
them out of the reach of most smaller developers. But with the advent of cloud
computing, social game designers now have dozens of options for purchasing
server usage from cloud service providers like Google or Amazon. This option
is far less expensive than owning your own servers; it gives you the flexibil-
ity to choose the operating system (OS) you want your code to run on (Linux
or Windows), and best of all, you can dynamically throttle up or down the
amount of computing power you need to purchase, based on user demand. As
your game gets more popular, you can automatically scale up to get the servers
you need, and you don't need to cultivate (and pay) a team of high-priced
server experts to keep them running. This logical division of labor between
companies who provide cloud computing and the developers who build and
maintain online games has helped drive prices down and quality up.
Players give you feedback immediately
Long ago, players who hoped to be “heard” by the developers of the games
they purchased mailed in the comment cards contained in many boxed prod-
ucts. More recently, gamers submitted feedback on forums, on websites, via
email, or by calling customer support. For online games, users could email or
instant message a game master directly to get help with their problems or to
have their questions answered. However, with social games, feedback can be
harvested more proactively. Every time a user stops playing your game, they
have, in effect, given you feedback. Every time they don't buy something you
offered, they are telling you that they do not see the value in your proposition.
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