Categorized | Business

How to start your very own Arcade / Flash Game site and make money from it.

Posted on 23 July 2006 by John

It is the game and the thrill of making money that we entrepreneurs are into. We should always be trying to seize every opportunity that comes our way. Right?

Looking at the large number of arcade / flash game sites making literally obscene money (a quick visit to any website marketplace confirms this), it is difficult to resist the temptation of getting into this business.

Considering that it is not really that difficult to get started into Arcade site business, you should indeed try it out atleast once. Who knows, it may just click.

In this exclusive StreetLessons.com guide to starting and making money from your very own arcade site, we will take a look the opportunities, the risks, current market situation and how you too can play the game.

Let’s start. Shall we?

The Opportunities

What are these arcade sites anyway? Ever since Macromedia introduced Flash / ShockWave technology, one of the major uses of it has been to create lightweight games that can be played online.

These arcade sites are just a collection of those flash games which you can play online. The owners keep adding more games to the sites and people keep coming back to play them.

What is the target-audience here? Surprisingly, it is not just the broke teens and penny-less geek kids who are the audience here. One of the largest and most profitable target here is the “click-loving” women and bored office workers.

How do these sites make money? Ads! Yes, really. Most of these sites out there are making their money just by displaying ads.

When you display ads with a formatting like in the screenshot below, you make a lot of money. :)

AdSense Ad Placement

A wee bit deceptive but it works! And Google doesn’t disallow it.

There are some subscription-based arcade sites and some communities forums which bundle a gaming arcade membership with a paid account. However, most money earners are the free arcade sites.

Actually, the amount of traffic that these sites get is so obscene that even if you throw up some ads without any optimization of any kind, you will still make your banker pretty happy at the end of the month.

What about my poor lil server? Jesus! You are going to literally kill my server. Do you realize how bandwidth hungry these sites are?

Yes, indeed, these arcade sites are pretty bandwidth intensive. However, the days of expensive bandwidth are long gone and most of the hosts out there offer you more bandwidth than you’d ever need.

You may want to checkout some high bandwidth hosts like HostGator, Globat, Blue Host, Site5 among others.

And don’t forget to check out our sponsor — FadHost.com – Professional hosting for your arcade.

Anyway, your arcade site would probably make you enough to fund its expenses (while leaving you a nice profit).

Cool, I am all set to dive in. Hold your horses cowboy! Not so fast. Let us first take a look at the risks involved in here, the current market situation and how to play the game.

After reading these sections below, then only I’d recommend that you to make a decision if this is the market you want to get into.

The Risks

The market is saturated. Yes, the market for those cookie-cutter dime-a-dozen sites is indeed very much saturated.

And it is those turnkey game-scripts with their 2000 game packs which are to be blamed.

Most of the times people who buy such scripts just put them up on their site, slap some ads and switch on the default skin. That’s it! And, it is the this exact market which is saturated.

However, if you can differentiate yourself even one bit — offering exclusive games or having a unique design — suddenly this point does not apply to you.

As long as people keep getting bored there will be a market for such sites.

Beware of the DCMA. Most sites which develop (or get developed) these flash games actually encourage you to put these games on your site. After all, most of these games are branded with their sites and it is all but free advertising for them.

However, some of them are not really keen to allow others to use these games on their sites. Be sure to check out the licensing terms of each game before putting it on your site.

Also, if you ever get DMCA notice, honour it!

Just a word of advice, be prepared to live with these sort of issues. :)

Beware of the Pirates. Chances are that if you ever develop a flash game yourself or get an exclusive game developed, be prepared to have it pirated.

Though you may want to add some anti-piracy features, but they can also be bypassed. Be prepares to give some real-sounding solid legal threats. :p Yeah, they work pretty well.

Current Market Situation

Like I said in The Risks part, most of the sites popping up in this are are those dime-a-dozen turnkey scripts.

Well, I am not against using off-the-shelf scripts, in fact I myself use them wherever possible to reduce my overall investment and would recommend you to use them too in the next section.

I am actually against not customizing the skin that comes with the turnkey script. I am against using the very same content that your site next-next-domain is using.

If you can customize the design or you can offer some exclusive games or a larger variety then you already have differentiated yourself from the cookie-cutter sites.

The market for games has always been there and will always remain as long as people need to spend time having fun. It is those turnkey sites that the naysayers take a look at and then preach how this market is doomed.

The keyword is “differentiation” and you will have to use your brain how you will differentiate yourself.

Playing the game!

Now you have read about the opportunities, risks and current market situation of the gaming market and decided that you want to explore the waters of arcade site business.

Good! Anyway, the start up cost is extremely low and you can always bootstrap. ;)

So here’s the part you most probably visited this How-To Guide for. Step-by-step method to start and make money from your own arcade site.

1. The basic infrastructure. The basic infrastructure that you need to run an arcade site business is just a domain name and a web host.

For a domain name, you can register one at GoDaddy, NameCheap, Dotster or 1&1. It would cost you less than $10.

Also, if you already have a domain name, you may want to start your arcade site on a subdomain or a sub-folder. However, you would want to do so only if your main site matches the theme.

However, from an SEO point of view, I’d recommend that you buy a new domain. If you want to learn about search engine optimization, I recommend that you read Aaron Wall’s SEO Book.

As for hosting, you would want to search for a high bandwidth webhost. Take a look at HostGator, Globat, Blue Host, Site5 among others.

And don’t forget to check out our sponsor — FadHost.com – Professional hosting for your arcade.

2. You need a backend script.

There are lot of off-the-shelf scripts available for Arcade sites and most are pretty cheap too. Some free ones are also available but I’d recommend that you shell out a few bucks. Atleast you will have someone to hold your hand if something goes wrong. :)

Here’s a quick list of the most popular arcade scripts out there.

GameSiteScript : http://www.gamesitescript.com
phpArcadeScript : http://www.phparcadescript.com
myGameScript : http://www.mygamescript.com
Arcade Script : http://www.arcade-script.com

You can also create your own arcade script if you know a bit of programming. However, if you don’t have much experience coding, you are better off buying one of the above scripts.

But hey, don’t forget to customize the skin or do something different from what comes default. Remember, you need to differentiate yourself.

3. Time for some games.

You can either buy game packs from the script manufacturers or buy them from various people on DigitalPoint Forums.

You can also visit various sites which allow you to download games which you can add on your site. I will list some of them in another post.

4. Lets make some moolah.

The easiest way to make money from Arcade sites in Google AdSense or Yahoo Publisher network. You can make them blend so finely in your page that your CTR shoots through the roof. Take a look at the screenshot I posted earlier in this guide to see what I mean.

You could also take a look at various CPM ad networks like TribalFusion, ValueClick, BurstMedia, Azoogle etc. when you start meeting their minimum criteria.

5. Spreading the word.

a. MySpace. Easiest way to do so is to make a fake profile of a hot babe. The hotter the pic you use for your profile, the more friend requests you will get.

Use your profile and the friend bulletin feature to promote your site. Trust me, you will be literally shocked at the effectiveness of this method.

b. Viral Sites. You know those link dump sites like CollegeHumor.com, Jokaroo.com, Fark.com etc. etc. and those top-sites which cover these sort of sites. Use them.

Here’s a small list –

http://www.ArcadeTopSites.com

http://www.ArcadeToplist.com

http://www.GameSites200.com

http://www.TopFlashGames.net

http://www.Top50fromOnRPG.com

http://www.Top100GameSites.com

http://www.GameSitesList.com

http://www.Topzor.com

http://www.SuperGameSites.com

http://www.Top100PCGameSites.com

http://www.moregamers.com

http://www.moreplayerz.com

http://www.arcadebanners.com

c. Paid Advertising. There are a lot of places to advertise for cheap. Try AdBrite, Fark Classifieds, eBaumsWorld and the like for doing some paid advertising. It is really worth it. :)

And don’t forget to check out our sponsor — FadClick.com – Advertise your arcade.

d. SEO. Uhm. If you want to improve your SEO skills, I’d suggest that you read Aaron Wall’s SEO Book.

d. Physical Threats. This is the most effective promotion tactic — threaten your friends, friends of friends, neighbours, co-workers and everyone you meet on the street with a baseball bat if they don’t visit your site and tell others about it.

On a sidenote, this promotion tactic never fails to work. :)

That’s it folks. I hope this guide answered all your questions about running and profiting from an arcade site. If you still have any questions feel free to eMail me at lord@lordbrar.com. I will try to answer them. :)

Also, I will keep updating this Guide. If you have any suggestions, feel free to contact me at the same address – lord@lordbrar.com. And be sure to join our newsletter (signup form is there on the right of this page) so that you stay aware of any changes we make.

Good luck!

6 Comments For This Post

  1. graeme Says:

    Great and informative article man. I’ve just started an arcade site and have started doing some link exchanges over at DP, but you’ve added some good tips that I didn’t know about plus those resources you mentioned.

    Just one thing, you can’t have images near the ad like it recommends in the example but this was probably written before G changed the TOS

    Also you have a great site here. I’m coming back to read some more streetlessons.

  2. Alan Says:

    Okay I want to create a game that will pay off and will show others.
    I want this game to contain a chat log where people from all over the world can talk. Also many 3-D jobs that will pay computer money. That way people work for what they play. Like real life there will be bad people where they could steal from you and even kill you. If you don’t end up dead you will have a chance to heal in a computer hospital. It would take about 5 minutes. There is not really a meaning for killing in the game because if you are shot it will look like he/she are dead but really they are just injured. Tis might confuse people. After your day which I will make about 15 minutes long your person which you create will have a chance to rest. This process will take about 1 mniute. well thanks

  3. gubugmeister Says:

    Great article thanks a lot. I have a new arcade site that I have been working on about a month now and some of your tips will come in handy. I especially appreciate the myspace stuff and the link dumps list.

  4. iluvmoney Says:

    I LOVE arcades web sites!!! and its great making money ha ha. it is a pain is the ass to hire people to fix your websites though! crack

  5. Nikolai Says:

    The info is a bit outdated but still valuable .Thanks for the great article. Nikolai

  6. Beatris Degross Says:

    It sounds like you’re creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place.

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This is a viral video from Youtube that is getting a lot of attention.

I will let the author set the scene:

It was back in Oct 2005.

My wedding was about a month to go and I decided to make a memorable event for my future wife. But, I and she were working and due to preparation of wedding, I didn’t have enough budgets for expensive proposal. While I was considering for the event, I remembered what she said in the past. “Wow it would be great if I can get a chance to go in the room with full of yellow post it just like Sang Sang Plus” (Sang Sang Plus is one of the famous talk show (TV program) in Korea and they prepare a room with full of yellow post it – questions from fans to famous celebrity)

I wrote all the happy memories that I had with my wife in 5,940 post it. It took me 4 days & 5 nights to write everything and post it in the bathroom. (I tried main living room first, but, due to surface of wallpaper, I had to change the place) Once we back from honeymoon, we took all the post it off and kept it in the box until now.

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