Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:29 PM
TV, interesting experiment. I was wondering though, do publishers require exclusivity? Somewhere in your post you mentioned 'each license could make x amount'. As such, I'd assume the publishers you work with don't mind if you make your games public on your own website.
What I'm wondering about, then, is why you wouldn't both make your games public (inc. mobile advertising, and advertising the licensing opportunity) as well as release your game through publishers. (without the advertising, instead, whatever the publisher wants). Right now it seems like it's the one (publisher) or the other (public), instead of the one or the one and the other.
I would understand if you didn't like the return on your time investment. But then, I would seriously reconsider the framework of your experiment, as it's not really accurate on the long term. After all, what the publisher makes money from and pays you with, isn't much different from what you make money from if you publish yourself to the public. Ads. The difference is, they usually have a pretty vast traffic stream and a website that's dedicated to mobile gaming, it's branded as a gaming website and it's got all kinds of simple web instruments (e.g. categories, search, tags, reviews, popularity rankings, social opportunities, server-side saving of in-game achievements) that help players find the games they enjoy and keep coming back for more. You have a blog and a licensing page, but that's more of a professional oriented page than for gamers.
So your experiment is basically putting in lots of time to publish one game through virgin communication channels, versus publishing through established channels. Even if the game was plastered all over the HTML5 gaming websites, it's pretty saturated and it gets drowned out, unless you've established some kind of brand value of a decently sized portfolio of games that are easy to recognize.
If you're thinking about how to go from making 40k a year working 40-80 hours a week, to making a lot more than that with less micromanaging, and sourcing out a lot of the actual development, I'd seriously start considering a long term strategy involving in-house publishing. Basically, develop a new website that's fully branded as a mobile gaming website, instead of a game-dev blog. The unique selling point is, that you can offer quality and quantity and an umbrella brand, as well as lots of control over standerdizing things like in-game achievements linked to user-accounts, because you're developing in-house based on a standard HTML5 template you're probably using for most of your GMS projects. Just like how Steam's API or Xbox live's achievements api was homogenous, and allowed a community to thrive, you could do it too on a smaller scale. A bit like kongregate really.
Most websites that try to do this either don't develop anything in-house and thus have a huge influx of badly designed, ugly looking games that are detrimental to the overal value perception of the website. Or they do develop in-house, but as they're not small HTML5 games and/or have no network to source out any work and can't churn out a large sized portfolio. They end up with only 3-4 titles, not enough to really drive traffic. But you have a portfolio of +20 games, and with a basic HTML5 'engine', for a lack of a better word, it's pretty easy to expand that to 40 by the end of 2013, with 2-3 killer apps. Your games should continue to make money long after they were created, meaning you can slow down your development a bit and save time churning out a new game every month. Additionally, every internet marketing effort affects the value of your entire site, and thereby your entire portfolio, meaning this could save you some time too.
At a later stage you can start to think about allowing other people to embed your games on their websites. With in-house dev and uniform branding, every game out there can drive the exposure and popularity of the rest of the portfolio too, and that's what is missing from your first experiment a bit.
The beauty is, you should be able to kickstart all of this while you're making money through publishers. I'm sure I'm missing some things, as I don't know much about how you operate, what your procedures and time allocation is like, but I made some constructive guesses. Building a revenue stream through in-house publishing isn't easy, but it's worth exploring. If you'd like we could talk about it some more, just PM me if you'd like to bounce around ideas.