You could actually make some, but remember that sites like addicting games will pay about ~5000$ for a good game. If they buy the rights for the source and you do not get any credits in your game usually, you could get another 5000$, so that’s about 10k for a game. Remember that most decent games out there, are made by a small team of about 2-4 people. Most of the time, if you got really proficient AS3 programmers, you could get away with about 150 hours of programming for a normal game. At an hourly rate of ~18$ you get ~2700$ loss for programming alone. If you can get away with that much art, because people like beautiful games you could go as far as ~200 hours (5 weeks – 1 person) at ~14$ you deduct another ~2800$. so costs are roughly around 5500$. That means that unless you give total rights to your game you will never make good profits for small games. Profits run around 5k to 4k for those kind of games. They do pay for staff and help a little to pay bills, software licenses and utilities. As a side note, Canadian’s get a better ROI because the current exchange rates.
As far as i know there is a market for 5k games, but you must have talent on your side. Right now the only person i see really making money from small flash games are the portals with ads. As much as i would like to see the figures they get from ads, i know i won’t. Some of those portals actually gives you bonuses if you make it to the big charts. The way i saw how much Digg makes per months (~250k+ when it used ad sense), some of those sites are bound to have more money than that for game makers.
There is a very lucrative market out there for existing IP’s like TV shows and TV content. If you can get in touch with those kind of contacts, those contracts hover around the 100k and up to 300k. But be prepared to deliver quality and on time ! Those project spans in the months and need you to have your production ready to the challenge. The challenges will be to meet deadlines and deliverable to get the cash. Be prepared to convert cartoon show materials to usable game content (if your lucky, Toon Boom material should transfers pretty well because its vector graphics). Be sure to have enough money to cover for a couple of months because any change of requirements could delay production and leave you dry on cash. Oh, and it seems to be the norm to be paid late. Late payments by publishers in the computer game business seems to be normal unless you have forged a pretty good standing reputation.
Some technical advice on making good frame rate games
If any of you remember the old fashion DirectX 3 to 7 where 2D graphics where starting to get good, well actually you can now do the same in flash in multi-platform ways. Actually, if you do not rely on the Sprite class you can get pretty high frame rates by just blitting (copying) BitmapData to another BitmapData (that you would use as a memory surface akin to DirectX) and finally copy the BitmapData to a single sprite that is child of the Stage. Now what i just told you here took us months to research the last two years. Actually Adobe’s Flex platform isn’t that great right now. As DirectX matured (and many others like OpenGL and SDL …) Flex should get performance upgrades. Be sure to use classes that do not have lots of memory footprints and you should be able to display lots of stuff with clever instancing.
From my expertise on AS3, i would recommend the following books i heavily used, to anyone interested in making games in flash :
ActionScript 3.0 cookbook
This one i liked because there’s secrets that you could just not find two years ago on the net. Sometimes it was good for stuff that i forgot how to do. This book has almost all the small things, hard and simple to do. This is a good reference book to keep close by.
Essential ActionScript 3
If you want to get comprehensible help (because adobe’s help is good but its not Microsoft good) get this book, actually if you read it from cover to cover, you will know everything there is to know about the action script language.
Foundation ActionScript 3 Making things move
This one is for learning the multimedia helpers Flex gives you. One thing that is good about this book, is that it is a comprehensible tutorial to get things working in either the Adobe Flex builder IDE, the Flash IDE or FlashDevelop IDE. You get to choose and learn how it works on eash platforms.
The Flash IDE
You should probably get a Flash CS XXX book to know how the Flash IDE works in more details, because one thing is certain, if you want to make a game in flash, menus and such will be made in the Flash IDE and then imported and instanciated in your flash application. This means you should get proper knowledge of the Flash IDE tool.
The dirty practices
Many of you may play these nice little games online at such sites as Kongregate, addicting games and many others. I used to work for a company making Flash games. What many users revere as one man made games in the basement can indeed be misleading. The quality of Flash games are getting to a point where you just cannot believe that a one man army made it. I cannot use any examples as i am bound by professional secrets, but some company actually get games from production firms like where i used to work and make people believe that its some student in their mothers basement that made it. Actually those company want to test out concepts and see if they work. So in a sense you play those games, give credit to some dude that you think is real but is actually fake, and then some time later, a new game with better graphics comes out and its a hit !
I hope this post will help newcomers to this industry know what to account for, keep in mind that numbers showed here get close to what i can account for it may not be the norm but it’s pretty close to what i have witnessed for the past three years. There is definitly enough money to be made even for a small startup in the current economic climate. Finally, online Flash games are fun to develop because the comitment time to them is never beyond 2 months, this means employees do not have time to get bored !