The popularisation of the internet made every 'man', theoretically, a publisher. Web sites and services that allow people to produce their own content are hugely successful: from the Angelfire and Geocities of days gone by to, now, Blogger and wikis. There are whole communities dedicated to sharing and critiquing amateur-made games, movies (including ones that involve naked people doing naked people stuff) and other content. Sadly, a lot of the content online is crap. At a conservative estimate, 95 per cent of the web's content is utter rubbish. Not worth even a byte of the bandwidth it consumes. And, too, a lot of it is unoriginal. You're likely to find the one piece of content in several places.
Theoretically, it's possible to make money selling decent content. Theoretically. You've seen, we're sure, the ads. Make money online. A thousand dollars a day for little to no work. No skills or training required. Just click here to find out more - just, first, give us your name and address and banking details so we can steal your identity and your money and your megahertz.
Those kinds of profits are unrealistic. They're decidedly not what we have in mind when we say it's possible to make money online. Making money online is challenging but people do it. Some are so good at it that it's their primary source of income but we reckon that's a bit ambitious. Making any money is hard enough. There are lots of people online who will promise to pay you but simply won't. Still, if you can find a legitimate source, you may be able to sell skilfully produced content.
For starters, people buy games and other applications online. We mentioned a few months ago the possibility of selling your products through distribution channels such as the Apple App store. People download your product. You get some set percentage. The distributor - Apple or Valve or whoever - gets the rest. Some distribution channels will charge you to sell your content for them but will essentially take care of all of your marketing for you. Such options are good if you're prepared to spend money and are producing software that's complex enough, interesting enough and good enough for it to have some sort of mass appeal but probably aren't so good if you're just making Flash and Java games.
People actually buy Flash and Java games. Not in the way they buy Apps for iPad, but for their own websites. They make the game available for free and essentially use it, just like a free-to-air television programme, to get their audience to sit still while they assail their audience with advertisements. The advertisements are either on the website or embedded directly in the game itself. Some websites may seek out developers to come up with a game that directly promotes their products.
Rather than attempting to directly seek out web developers interested in your games, you should look for distribution channels that specialise in Flash games. FlashGameLicence, for example, links people who develop games with people who develop websites, including people who develop large Flash game portals. Understand that you won't make a lot of money and, sometimes, services such as FlashGameLicence are popular with Flash game developers. You'll need to ensure your games stand out from the pack. At the same time there will be a myriad of hoops to jump through. You'll most likely need to keep the size of the file small and bundle everything up in a single .swf file.
It does seem like a lot of effort for little or, perhaps, no monetary reward. There are advantages beyond the monetary, though. Every time we speak to games development studios about what they look for in potential employees, the response is pretty much the same. You need a qualification. You need people skills. You need to know what you're doing and like it. Above all, though, you need to be able to create something that's fun for other people. Lots of people can create games - the internet, again, has made creating content and reaching some kind of audience easy - but very few can create games that are engaging to a large audience. And that, after all, is what commercial games development is all about. If you can create a game, even the simplest game, and distribute it and market it yourself and attain something of an audience, you're checking a big box so far as the human resources departments of lots of studios are concerned.