This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.
Cooper perceives himself as just one of several pioneers in the effort to add microtransactions to premium, single-player Flash games. But he foresees the space growing rapidly, especially because he reports that "Electronic Arts is having thoughts about entering the market."
"When someone like EA plans to join in, the competition will mean that Flash game development will radically increase in quality, players will enjoy the games more, they'll play them for a longer time, and then spend more money on them. I think you're seeing just the tip of the iceberg here."
While Cooper's Shadez sequel isn't quite ready for launch, he is anticipating microtransaction revenue of approximately $12 per thousand players based on stats for other games. As a result, he's devoted considerably more time to building the game than he had on his previous titles -- six months instead of two -- which means more and better content.
"If you look at most of the games I've developed, they are 30-minute experiences because I needed to cut short the development time to reflect my earnings," he recalls. "This new game will pack in 10-20 hours of play, in which we've raised the quality bar considerably."
Developers like Ninja Kiwi's Harris agree that microtransactions are key to improving the quality of Flash games, bringing them that much closer in value to today's retail games.
"I'm not saying that there won't always be a certain popularity for the 30-second disposable game," he explains, "but there's going to be a clearer divide between the people who make good Flash games and those who don't."
As a result of real and anticipated revenue generated by microtransactions, Ninja Kiwi -- a studio of four -- will bring in two more developers this month. And development work per game will expand from the previous four to six weeks to three months.
"I agree with Sean [Cooper] that this mechanism, if it proves to work as well as the early trend is showing, will increase the quality of Flash games across the board. I expect that, initially, some players will say, "This is bullshit... We shouldn't have to pay for Flash games... They're supposed to be free... What are you guys doing?" A good answer to that is, "Don't worry! Most of the content is going to continue to be free... but whether you choose to pay or not, the quality is going to go up."
Shadez: Battle for Earth
Cooper anticipates a time when Flash games will give retail games a run for their money in terms of value.
"We haven't had the money to do that before," he explains, "but this will become an opportunity for Flash developers to turn their marketplace into the largest one around. My personal hope is that gamers will put their middle finger up to the $50 boxed, retail products and, instead, spend the few dollars it might cost to play one of our games -- and have just as much fun doing so.
"I am definitely in the camp that it won't be too long before we become much, much bigger than the boxed game space and be the number one gaming platform," Cooper adds. "I mean, we can have 100 million hits in a year. The boxed version of games aren't likely to hit five million, now are they?"