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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

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The Escapist’s Casual Fortunes points out something many who are into games overlook or turn their noses up at: that there’s a vast market out there consisting of people who aren’t interested in the latest first-person shooter or MMORPG, they just want a quick go at something they can easily play on their outdated PC. And they’re willing to pay for it. Yeah, it’s frustrating that a lot of the big-selling ‘casual games’ are crap rip-offs, but you can’t ignore what’s going on.

If you have a successful Flash game on your site then try creating a version with a few extra features/levels, export it as a standalone executable for Windows and OS X, and sell it for a few dollars as a deluxe downloadable version (rig up something really simple with PayPal, and don’t bother with any product activation or copy protection to start with). You might not sell many, but it’s worth a try for so little effort.

The couple of bits of successful Flash content I’ve published prompted dozens of queries about how to download them and/or play full-screen. Initially I was dismissive. Why would anyone want to download a Flash animation when they can play it any time they want on the web? Did they just want to annoy people by emailing it around like those stupid PowerPoint files full of ‘hilarious’ images?

But eventually I accepted that people want to ‘own’ digital content they like, and they feel safer with it on their own computer rather than on a web site that might disappear. It’s not truly theirs until they download it, and some are willing to pay for that sense of ownership (which is partly why iTunes sells tracks; the subscription model is harder for people to adjust to coming from the clearly tangible ownership of physical media).

So even though a simple quiz and a daft animation wouldn’t have sold anywhere near as well as addictive games or something featuring kittens/Dubya, and the extra clutter and commercialism would’ve harmed my site (which is why I avoided ads), out of millions of visitors I probably could’ve still made enough to exceed minimal development costs. It’s a market that us web-/game-savvy geeks almost can’t believe exists, and one that ties in with things I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, such as online sports/simulation games and game communities.

Hmm you never know, malevole might actually get redesigned one day and be heavily influenced by all this stuff…


I've been checking regularly at Malevole and I'd be happily surprised if it does change..! ;-)

— Dave Beard, 31st Aug, 10:50pm

i dont play games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

— boc of the F.L.A., 1st Sep, 5:57am

I've been delaying development just to keep you in suspense...

Matt Round, 1st Sep, 5:57am

I'm still not convinced about the reason for downloading Flash games. I know that makes me a web-/game-savvy geek but I'd be really interested to know why these people wanted downloadable versions.

Maybe they're using them so much that they're worried it's going to take them over their bandwidth limits (not realising it would usually be cached), also there are still people who are on "pay-as-you-go" style ISP packages (like my mum) who might want to play whilst not connected.

morcs, 1st Sep, 1:19pm

Or kids on dial-ups tying up the phoneline with that infernal game again!

morcs, 1st Sep, 1:39pm

One of my mates is a Flash downloader and I never understood it until some stuff I liked disappeared, then I started doing it too... Sometimes it's rather pointless, but other times it means I find something I enjoyed whilst naffing around on my own computer, which is more often than trying to dig through my half-a-thousand bookmarks.

Paul Silver, 5th Sep, 8:15pm

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