How to get your game distributed on Big Fish Games

BFG logo

Someone just emailed me asking some advice about getting their game onto Big Fish Games (BFG). They said “publish” on BFG but I’m guessing that they meant “distribute” instead. I’ve only got experience with having my games “distributed” on BFG, which means that they put a game up on their site and pay me royalties – this leaves me free to also put the game up on my own site and on other portals. If BFG “publishes” a game for you, they’ll give you detailed feedback and do lots of marketing and distribution for you, it’s a different ball game and it’s up to you which route you prefer.

Before you approach BFG make sure that your game is finished, good quality and as bug free as you can make it. It’s a good idea to have tested it on other people to make sure that they understand how to play it and don’t have any major problems. BFG has a “Developer Relations” department that evaluates games that get sent to them – you can read about the submission process here. They will advise the developer of any changes that may need to be made before it can be published on the site (splash screens, technical issues etc).

Bear in mind that BFG get sent many games each week and only the best ones actually make it onto the site, so make sure that your game is really professional before sending it to them. How do you know if it’s good enough? Download other games on the site and compare yours in terms of graphics, sound, playability, content/scope etc. Posting on forums like Indiegamer can help you get much needed feedback to refine the game into a winning title. Here’s another clue, if you didn’t spend much money making your game, then it probably isn’t going to be good enough.

Regarding royalty rate: I’m not sure I’m publicly allowed to state BFG’s royalty rate, so just in case let’s say that an average casual game portals is about 25% to 40% and that if you let them have an “exclusive”, which means that only their site has your game for the first few weeks, you may get a better deal and will certainly get better promotion – something worth considering.

Note that some Indies actually prefer to put their game on their own site (and use their own mailing lists) for several months to maximise revenue at the full $19.95 price (or similar) before putting it on the portals to make use of their much bigger audiences but with a greatly reduced revenue per sale (e.g. 35% of $6.95 after transaction fees = about $2 or so).

Check out this post for more info: I’ve just finished my game – now what?

Also here’s an article by BFG founder, Paul Thelen, about bringing your game to market.

7 Responses to “How to get your game distributed on Big Fish Games”

  1. Grey Alien Games Says:

    The emailer asked me some more questions to which I replied as follows (you can infer the questions from the answers):

    1) $2 per unit sold may not seem like much but $2 x 50,000 is pretty good! However, that’s for a top game. You may only get $2 x 10,000 or less if the game is not so good. That’s why you may need to put it on more portals and sell directly.

    2) Splash screen is just an image. DRM is handled by BFG installer. BFG has more info about requirements when you contact them, stuff like having a windowed mode, not having any URLs on display etc.

    3) If you programmed it yourself and got free sound effects then you would most likely have still had to pay an artist, unless you were very lucky. Maybe you could get enough decent art for under $10000 if you found the right person, but most games have a much higher art cost these days.

    4) BFG has a localisation team that can help you out for free I believe. Ideally you should have a text file that contains all game text so it can be easily translated without altering your code. Of course if any graphics contain text, you’ll have to fix those yourself but they can at least supply translations.

  2. Steve - therevills Says:

    Hey Jake,

    Most of what you’ve put here I agree with, but with your comment about “Here’s another clue, if you didn’t spend much money making your game, then it probably isn’t going to be good enough.” Im not sure about. If you look at our games Gunslinger Solitaire and The Bloobles (yep its going on BFG soon(ish)) we didnt spend much at all – I would say less than $100 for both games so it can be done :)

    Steve

  3. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Hi Steve, I’m glad not spending much worked for you, it worked for my first few games too. But basically the more you spend the greater the return will be (providing the game is good of course!), that’s for sure.

  4. Steve - therevills Says:

    Well its worked so far… but looking at the quality that is out there I might have to spend a bit in the future ;)

  5. Casual Download is dead Says:

    Casual Download games for small/poor team is dead. Here this is why:

    too expensive to create competitive title.
    shares are dropping constantly (affiliate get more % than actual dev now FFS).
    crowded space: 2 or 3 games released per day.
    price have droped.

    my 2p advice: keep your job at BFG. The environment for a small casual dev have massively changed recently. It’s 10x harder than before.

  6. Grey Alien Games » Blog Archive » Getting your game on Big Fish Games Says:

    [...] just emailed me with some questions about submitting a game to Big Fish Games. I already wrote an article about this before but there is some different information in this [...]

  7. buster2232 Says:

    @Casual Download is dead Says

    I think Jake knows more about casual development then you. It has never need easy to make casual video games, but it can be done with hard work.

    The sad thing is most team will not complete their game.