Gaming. It’s one of the most rapidly growing industries in this new technological era. From the core roots of its forefathers Pong, video games have made an impressive leap through the decades. Games have branched out into numerous categories, each focused into their own unique styles and methods. With the endless possibilities these days, more and more people are now understanding and grasping the concept of generating their creative ideas into entertaining games. Powered by the Flash player, a significant amount of games are being found on the internet. Where am I leading all of this too? Kongregate!
Still in its alpha stage until post holidays, Kongregate brings forth a solid gaming community for Flash game developers and players. For the casual online gamer, this one will easily meander its way into the bookmarks folder. The network is fully user-submitted and relies heavily on feedback and participation to establish the online community. Featured and popular games are found on the front page, naturally. A brief description and gameplay count is specified under each game to help comb out the popular games from the rest. Along with that, there are viewer ratings associated with each game title. Online chat and real-time updates which displays the Kongregate members who are currently logged in the same game as you, is an added plus. A tag cloud can also be found on the Home page to help judge the favored categories.
From a developer’s standpoint, Kongregate offers the ability to upload and advertise your games through their website. Currently, games are only permitted to be uploaded in the standard flash .swf format, however they are in the process of getting the Shockwave format to work as well. Also, developers are able to earn revenue from the games they upload to Kongregate. You can earn profit between 25% and 50% of the total revenue. From the get-go, 25% of the revenue from the advertisments is yours, but additional percentages of revenue can be tacked onto that default 25% if you meet certain criteria. A 10% increase in revenue can be earned if you make use of Kongregate’s integrated APIs. (These APIs are still a work in progress, so everyone holds this additional 10% currently.) An additional 15% is added if your game is exclusive on Kongregate’s site. This simply meaning that besides hosting your game on your own personal website, the only other place your game is hosted is on Kongregate’s website. Payments from the ads is fairly straight-forward. Using the address that you provide in your user profile, payments are mailed out monthly. $25.00 US dollars is the bare minimum each check is made out for, so if you’re revenue from the ads does not meet this amount, your balance will roll-over into next month, and so on, until the required $25.00 mark is attained.
Kongregate wishes to keep their main website’s design advertisement free. They plan on keeping the ads in the window that each game appears in. In this window the advertisements display on a predetermined cycle of around 15 minutes. Exclusive Kongregate members have the ability to enable the ads to appear only during level change, (through the use of Kongregates APIs) so gameplay is kept undisturbed.
Let’s move along to the point system on Kongregate. You earn points by uploading games, rating games, inviting others, and finding/reporting bugs. What are the points for you ask? Well what do you know. It’s like a game! In Kongregate, you accumulate points to increase your “level”. Your level primarily just shows your status within the community as of now, but in the future the points will be exchangable for prizes. You’re also able to view a history of points you’ve obtained from the ratings that you’ve given to games. Kongregate’s staff also noted about the implementation of a mini virtual stock market in the near future. With this, you’ll be able to invest in games which could result in an immense increase to your points, or a painful loss of points, so you must choose wisely.
Let’s continue. Each game has its own Contribute section allowing members to send reports of any inappropriate games or .swf files that aren’t actual games. Kongregate’s staff ensures us that they will do their best to remove unnecessary material from the community in a timely manner. Any bugs that are discovered can also be reported in the Contribute section. In the rare case of heated online disputes via the online chat, they have also provided an email address to contact them with, so a moderator can resolve any chat problems as promptly as possible.
Rating games is as simple as choosing one to five star for each title you wish to assess. I believe they could’ve made the rating system clearer and easier to find since you have to hover over the actual stars to rate them. Rating is the main way of acquiring points to increase your level, so Kongregate is heavily dependent on participation. The customary main categories such as Action, Puzzle, Racing, etc. are there. Furthermore, tags are coupled with each game and you’re able to add additional tags for each game to help organize the games as clearly as possible.
In the Upload area you’re able to obviously upload your flash games along with that nice picture of yourself (or fantasy self) that you wish to use as your icon. Title, Game Description, Game Instructions, Category Selection, and Tags are all specified in this section. You also select whether your game is to be exclusive on Kongregate and if your game make use of their APIs in the Upload section. A “Game Uploading Agreement” is waiting for you at the bottom of the page and there’s a brief list of guidelines found to the right of the website, verifying that you fully understand Kongregate’s uploading policy.
They also give you the ability to add friends, and view your fans. Fans are people who have added you as their friend without you adding them as a friend in return. A Favorites list is also implemented so you can sift all the games that interest you into one solitary place. Games in your Favorites area display Game Title, Developer, and Rating for orginization sake.
Granted, Kongregate is partially a social networking website, (which is hardly a new idea) but they have adequately expanded on the accepted ideas of this online age. There are thousands of websites geared towards gaming, however finding one like Kongregate that truly pulls together everything that everyone likes, is a tough target to hit. Yeah, they are still in alpha, but nevertheless they have constructed a notable social networking community for avid flash gamers and developers thus far. If you’re a game developer looking to recieve some recognition for your work while at the same time trying to maybe make a little extra spending money, Kongregate should be a prime candidate for you. And even if you’re just someone trying to pass some time, you’ll be pleased to know that Kongregate can easily help you with that. I know I’m anxiously looking forward to see what the public release of Kongregate delivers us come early 2007.