I’ve been experimenting with the beta version of MochiMedia’s Mochiads system for the past few weeks. My first impression is that, when Mochiads finally rolls out to the public, it will help revolutionize the viral/free Flash game landscape.
Mochimedia have already been providing a very useful product named Mochibot for a couple years now. Mochibot is a way to track portals sites that have accepted (or stolen) your Flash games and put them on their own site. Mochibot is extremely easy to use. You just put some code in one of the frames of your .fla, compile, and Voila! You can track the online usage of your creations. Add encryption to your .swf file with something like SWF Encrypt 4.0 and you have a robust method for distributing and tracking your Flash games while remaining fairly certain that your code won’t be stolen or your preloaders/credits stripped out.
However, tracking your games is only 1/2 the battle, it would also be nice to get some benefit from them once they are “in the wild”. There are some already established ways to do this through through sponsorships and contests on portal sites, but not every game gets sponsored, and not every game can win a contest. This is where Mochiads steps in. Mochiads is way for you to insert ads into your own games, distribute them in any way you see fit. However, it goes beyond just that. With Mochimedia you get the feeling that there is now someone “on the side of the game developer”, and it makes all the difference.
After you sign-up for Mochiads (at this point, get accepted into the beta, but come October 2007 it will be open to the anyone), you have the three options: [Dashboard][Game Setup][My Account]
[Dashboard] : This is where you track the performance of your games and see how much money you have accumulated.
[My Account]: This where you set your contact details so you can be contacted and paid
[Game Setup]: The heart of Mochiads. This is where you create the listings for your games and get the code for the ads. You have two choices of ads : preloader and in-game (i.e. between levels). You can use both in a game if you like. To put ads in your game you copy the provided code that is automatically generated for you, download the proper mochiads.as file (AS1, AS2, AS3), then re-export your .SWF with ads included. It’s also a good idea to encrypt the .SWF, because rogue game portals will have even more incentive to disassemble your work and rip-out code when they see your ads. Your games are not automatically usable as soon as this process is complete. You must also provide a URL for Mochiads to view and approve your game before it goes into their system. Game approval usually comes within 12-24 hours. To be approved, your .swf must be a game, and the content cannot be deemed “objectionable” by Mochimedia. Fair enough, since they are making the deals with companies doing the advertising. You also have the ability to filter-out domains that will not show the ads, so if you do have an exclusive deal with a portal site, you can still support that agreement while showing ads on other sites or your own. Mochiads uses this feature themselves with Kongregate, as both companies have a partnership that goes beyond ad serving. You also have the option to upload your own “ad” that will be shown on the network when there are no other ads to be shown. This can net you a little extra traffic to your own site, which cannot hurt. There is not a lot of documentation available at this point for Mochiads, but what exists is sufficient for a moderately experienced developer. There also seem to be features to system that have not been finished or fleshed out quite yet. For instance, there are some tantalizing functions in the mochiads.as file, including a global high score system, that beg further explanation. On the good side, the Mochiads site offers a well-used forum filled with friendly and seemingly like-minded developers ready to offer help and support.
So, if this was all that Mochiads offered, it would be a good, maybe even a great tool, but it would not be revolutionary. The revolutionary part is that Mochiads will also act on your be-half as a distributor of your games, but demands no exclusivity or any other kind of licensing arrangements. It’s in their best interest to get your games in-front of as many people as possible, and they have taken this to heart. Mochiads sets up distribution deals for games with their ads in them, and allows you to opt-in or out of the system. As well, Mochimedia is working with game portals to make sure they benefit too, making them more open adding games with embedded Mochiads.
In effect, what Mochimedia have successfully created is a full service revenue generation and distribution network for indie Flash game developers. The system is extremely easy to use, friendly, and when combined with Mochibot, indispensable. You can track your game usage with Mochibot, get revenue from Mochiads, and help get distribution from Mochimedia. For the first time as an indie game developer I feel like someone is a partner and not just trying to rip me off. I firmly believe that the tools Mochimedia has created will pioneer a new era for independent Flash game developers.