Passion Vs Profit Photos from Casuality 2008

Whilst I was at Casuality 2008 in Amsterdam I attended lots of great lectures. One was by Reflexive and Enkord and was called “Passion Vs Profit”, a topic which particularly interests me.

Basically it can be summed up simply as: do you make games that you really want to just for passion, or do you calculatingly make games just for profit? Or is there some kind of middle ground?

During the presentation, Reflexive and Enkord explained which of their games were made for passion and which were made for financial reasons (also some were made for both reasons). They showed this on a simple diagram where passion was on the left and financial was on the right. Then, very interestingly, they revealed whether those games were a financial success or not based on if they had made a profit or loss. This was shown in another diagram beneath the passion/financial one. I took photos of Reflexive’s and Enkord’s diagrams as follows (you may wish to click them to view the full-size images):



You can see that some of Reflexive’s games have indeed made a loss; in fact the worse losses were the games that they made purely for profit! One of their most passionate games, Ricochet Extreme has done extremely well, and interestingly so has Big Kahuna Reef, which they made for both passion and financial reasons (in fact they said that the team was led by James C. Smith who was very passionate about the title but they were sure it would also be a financial success. James really helped to motivate the whole team who just jumped straight to action and made what they felt to be a great game, and I guess that’s reflected in the great sales).

However, it should also be noted that two of the games they made for passion have barely broken even (Wik and Swarm). I also asked them about The Great Tree and they said that it was made for Passion AND Financial reasons and that it seems to be doing pretty well but they don’t have enough data yet to say how well (or they didn’t really want to tell me).



Enkord had a different story to tell (well sort of). Because costs are so low in the Ukraine, EVERY game they have made has made a profit – this amused me 🙂 (I thought it was cool). As a side note, all of my games have made a profit too (some much smaller than others). However a similar pattern is revealed to Reflexive’s – the games that they made for financial reasons only (trying to anticipate the market) have made the least profit, and the games they made for passion, Clash ‘n’ Slash and Emerald Tale, have done very well. Also a game they made for Passion AND Financial reasons, Jewel of Atlantis, has done very well too.


So it seems that when these companies have tried to anticipate the market and have made games purely for financial reasons, those games have not done very well (this may not be the case for all developers of course, especially those now making Hidden Object games). Games made for passion can be hit and miss but when they are a hit they do very well. Perhaps this is just due to the extra care and feeling the developers put into the game.

Also, where passion and financial has been combined so that the market has been studied and a game has been programmed to meet that demand AND the developers have really enjoyed making it, those games have done very well. Personally I think this is the best route and it’s one that I follow. I’ve enjoyed making my games a lot even though they were done for financial reasons also. I played Bejewelled a few years ago and thought it was a great game; I thought that I could improve on it and I had really good fun programming my match-3 clones. Furthermore, when I first played the online version of Fairway Solitaire I was instantly hooked and knew that I’d have a great time programming the downloadable version of the game. I put a lot of passion into that game and I think that it shows; and, bearing out my theory, the sales were great too.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my synopsis of this great lecture at Casuality. Thanks to Reflexive and Enkord too for a very informative presentation.

P.S. Yes, I’ve just installed the Photopress plugin for WordPress and I aim to have some more colourful and visually informative posts in the future 🙂

8 Responses to “Passion Vs Profit Photos from Casuality 2008”

  1. Insider Says:

    Interesting article, thanks for the summary.

    Although would have liked to see Reflexive’s take on Ricochet Infinity (I noticed you liked to Infinity instead of Xtreme). Xtreme was a big hit but it looks like that Infinity is not.

    I could be wrong but although Infinity packs a lot of features, it seems like it was done more for Financial reasons. This could very well tie to the assertion of Financial games not doing so well.

    My guess is that The Great Tree also hasn’t done well so far, which is too bad as it’s a very nice game.

  2. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Yeah I linked to the latest game instead. Perhaps the market has moved on since Extreme and thus Infinity hasn’t done as well? However, I just looked at the Reflexive list of Top Sellers and it’s at position 14, so it must be doing quite well.

    The Great Tree is a strange game as it has casual elements and arcade elements. I like it and will be reviewing it soon on It’s done OK on a number of portals but not mega well I guess.

  3. jean-marc lederman Says:

    thanx, that’s an interesting read. I have no douts that when someone puts his heart into something, the labour of love will show. Altho, there’s always has to be a self-criticism view on all this but i guess most of us do look at our own work with very sharp eyes and ready to go back to work if some parts of it looks fragile or unachieved or just plain bad 🙂

    interesting enough, my biggest music sale was achieved when i recorded a track in a non expensive environment, with no pressure other than having fun. After that, and after the chart success that came with that specific track, the pressure the record company and myself have put on my musical endeavours ruined most of the fun as every risk was thought about over and over again and frankly took the passion out of it.

    As for games, the market is now so competitive that one may as well do it with one eye looking for fun and the other eye looking for auto-correction 🙂

  4. Grey Alien Games Says:

    Yeah, I think that the difference between a professional and an amateur (in whatever field) is that a professional will self-criticise and keep on improving their work whereas an amateur will leave the final work “unfinished” with holes in.

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  7. Curt Says:

    Our company started out very small and focused exclusively on passion-games. After all, we couldn’t afford not to. And now, years later, doing it so long, we know how to make that kind of game the best. Others may do it differently and different games hit different people. But it doesn’t surprise me that most of the profitable ones are the passionate ones, because building games is putting yourself in a mode of seeing-by-experience. If you do that, it’s because your passion directs you.

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